Hey New Orleans, here’s your next Mayor:
FOREST PARK, Ga. – The gruff, cigar-chomping general who led federal troops into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is convinced America hasn’t learned its lesson from the storm.
As Lt. Gen. Russel Honore gets ready to retire from the Army and hand over his command on Friday, he says he wants to spend the rest of his life creating a “culture of preparedness” to prevent another post-disaster disaster.
……During his 37-year Army career, Honore commanded troops in South Korea and prepared soldiers to fight in Iraq. After Katrina, the native of Lakeland, in Pointe Coupee Parish, led the vast relief convoy that rolled into New Orleans during its darkest hour. The 22,000-member force was one of the largest federal deployments in the South since the end of the Civil War.
With a green beret cocked to one side, a crisp, take-charge attitude and biting one-liners — “Don’t get stuck on stupid!” he snapped at reporters — he impressed politicians and ordinary folks alike. At news conferences, he ended sentences with the word “over,” as if transmitting over military radio.
New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, for one, famously called him a “John Wayne dude.”
Honore returned to Atlanta after the storm to focus on his main job as commander of the First Army, training National Guardsmen and reservists for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The devastation in his home state — the stranded residents, destroyed neighborhoods and bloated corpses — “left a passion in me to be a champion of something,” he said.
His next project is still taking shape, but he wants to see civil defense classes for young people that would teach first aid and survival basics, such as how to purify water. He wants to lobby drug stores and other businesses to keep generators in case of a long power failure. He wants cities to stockpile food and water so they don’t have to rely on the federal government.
And he wants to pressure every family to have an emergency plan, right down to backpacks with food, water, essential documents and medicine.
Although he hopes someday to return to Louisiana — he hasn’t ruled out a try at politics — he plans to use Atlanta as a launching pad for the project. He said he has discussed the idea with Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s staff and plans to meet with local business, civic and political leaders.
“In this new normal, with the possibility of terrorist attacks, natural disasters and industrial accidents, we need this culture of preparedness,” he said. “A vast part of America still thinks, ‘That couldn’t happen where I live.’ And they are dead damn wrong.”
The entire state of Louisiana could use a guy like General Honore in command of their civilian establishment. I guarantee you would see a much better emergency evacuation plan, better rebuilding efforts, and quick action taken against crime.
Hurricane Katrina illuminated everything that is wrong with New Orleans.
1. Those coonasses had what, almost 2 weeks warning before the storm hit? Tornado victims aren’t as lucky. The National Weather Service gave people ample warning of the impending disaster. They had days to evacuate, but for whatever idiotic reasons they concocted, many decided to stay. Rent a U-Haul, pack your valuables, and GET OUT. The only people that had a valid reason are the handicapped and infirmed. However, they comprise a relatively small portion of the population. The rest don’t have an excuse. Nagin certainly didn’t help matters by letting fleets of busses sit idle while he twiddled his thumbs.
2. Setting up disaster relief centers and command and control takes time. FEMA was prepared; the “blame Bush” contingent in New Orleans was not.
3. The looters revealed very early on that most of them are career thugs to begin with and used the tragedy as an outlet to continue their crime sprees.
4. If New Orleans put as much effort into personal responsibility, helping each other, and unifying the community as they did looting, blaming the government, and making asses out of themselves in the media spotlight, they’d be a lot better off.
For years, New Orleans has been dying a slow inevitable death thanks to its inherent political corruption, murder rate, and unwillingness to pull itself up by the bootstraps after it’s frequent natural disasters.
I don’t know why anyone would want to live in a city that’s right smack in the path of hurricane alley and below sea level, but if you do, you have to deal with the consequences. There are only so many things the Army Corps of Engineers can fix, and STUPID isn’t one of them.
If General Honore decides to run for public office, New Orleans needs to do everything it can to persuade him to return.