In 2005 the eye of Hurricane Katrina seemed to spare the low-lying neighborhoods of New Orleans as it moved to the east into Mississippi. Relief was short-lived as the backhanded surge of water from the storm breached levees and created an urban catastrophe that exposed fatal flaws in the nation’s ability to respond to natural disasters.
Within a month, Hurricane Rita would deliver the same message to Texas authorities, even though it weakened and veered east in the final hours before landfall, sparing the Houston-Galveston area serious damage. The chaotic evacuation Rita prompted turned out to be deadlier than the storm, prompting state and local officials to work out detailed plans for evacuations using freeways converted to one-way contraflows to expedite fleeing evacuees.
Now comes Hurricane Gustav, projected by National Hurricane Center forecasters to hit the Gulf Coast somewhere along the Texas to Mississippi coasts, with the New Orleans area in the cone of uncertainty. The lessons of the extended disorder and lawlessness produced by Katrina apparently have been absorbed well by authorities. Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana activated National Guard units far in advance of Gustav’s entry into the Gulf, and laid the groundwork for disaster assistance.
Hurricane déjà vu: Three years after Katrina flooded New Orleans, the Gulf Coast prepares for a major tropical test | Editorial | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle.