Sidebar: Where Are The Five Biggest Failures from Katrina Now?
1 year ago
Bush, Nagin, Blanco have faded from the spotlight but their impact hasn't
Hurricane Katrina remains one of the most devastating natural disasters ever to hit America, but many believe that the real disaster was man made, caused by a failure of leadership at every level of government. Below, a look at Katrina’s most notorious leadership letdowns, then and now.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, former Louisiana Governor
THEN: The first woman elected Governor of Louisiana, her response to the disaster was so widely panned that she declined to run for re-election in 2007, this despite the fact that she famously said of Hurricane Katrina, "I believe we are prepared. That's the one thing that I've always been able to brag about."
NOW: Blanco, who is currently working on a memoir, was recently diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer, though her spokesperson has described her prognosis as “favorable.”
Mayor Ray Nagin, former Mayor, New Orleans
THEN: Nagin was roundly criticized for failing to declare a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans until less than 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina touched down. Nagin has stated that he was hesitant to do so out of concern for the financial liability that could befall the city for closing businesses without proven cause. Six years later New Orleans and its residents are still struggling to rebound from financial devastation far greater than Nagin, or anyone else, could have ever imagined. Despite the criticism Nagin was re-elected Mayor in 2006, though his tenure was marked by controversy after controversy.
NOW: Nagin recently self-published a memoir titled, “Katrina’s Secrets: Storms after the Storm” and has begun serving as on-air disaster preparedness expert for various television networks. (No, that is not a joke.)
Michael Brown, former Director, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
THEN: Every major tragedy is defined by one iconic moment or image. For Hurricane Katrina, that moment is when President George W. Bush said to FEMA Director Michael Brown, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Brown was assailed by Republicans and Democrats alike for inadequate response to the disaster and for being unqualified for the role of FEMA Chief in the first place. Republican Senator Trent Lott, whose Mississippi home was a Katrina victim said, “Michael Brown has been acting like a private, instead of a general,” while TIME magazine published evidence of embellishments on Brown’s resume that highlighted emergency preparedness experience he never really had.