August 26th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

5 years after Katrina, what to learn from New Orleans?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

This weekend marks five years since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and all but destroyed the city of New Orleans.

The horrible images that came in the days and weeks following Katrina are unforgettable - a major American city literally underwater. People stranded on rooftops and in the Superdome, wading in floodwater with their belongings and families in tow in the sweltering heat.

The dismal response from the Bush administration only made matters worse - and left many wondering what was wrong with our federal government.

Five years later, despite the death and destruction, in some ways New Orleans is better than ever. There are more hotels and restaurants there than before Katrina... and much of the city's major infrastructure has new or rebuilt facilities. Lots of federal money has also poured into the schools, which were dysfunctional before Katrina and the public health system is also getting better.

As for the levees and water control systems, work still continues - but they're improving. Nonetheless, some worry that even the best levees won't be enough to withstand another storm like Katrina. Also, crime remains a huge problem. Several police officers are on trial for shooting unarmed civilians in the days following Katrina and allegedly covering it up.

Housing is a major concern too - especially in the poor neighborhoods where many lots remain empty.

As for what Katrina and the fate of New Orleans means for the rest of us, a new Pew poll shows 57 percent of Americans say the nation is no better prepared for hurricanes and other natural disasters than it was five years ago.

Here’s my question to you: Five years after Katrina, what can the rest of us learn from New Orleans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Denny in Tacoma, Washington writes:
It means that the government that we financially support and at times defend with our lives is often not there when we really need it.

Steve in Clifton, Virginia writes:
The big lesson to be learned is that when we as Americans act collectively for each other's common good towards a common goal, we can overcome anything. We need to focus less on party affiliations, race, gender and sexual orientation and focus on the common good of our great country!

Susan from Idaho writes:
There's no place like home. The residents have proven that they are made of the right stuff and have given us all a reason to respect them. I have been to New Orleans many times and what I've seen after Katrina is we were down but never out.

Jeff in Houston writes:
The same thing we learned during the Bush Regime: If you are not a rich, white male with corporate and/or political connections then you really do not matter. Go ahead and die. One less pesky minority type thinking they have rights. What nerve.

John in Alabama writes:
Jack: Have a plan for nature's disasters or man made disasters. Know how to leave the area, and make sure important papers like Social Security Cards, Bank Statements, and Property information are with you. Do not stay anywhere, if ask to evacuate by the authorities. Remember, we only have one life to live, and it is always better to breathe in a new place than to be dead at home.

Rick writes:
Number one lesson: don't build in areas below sea level!

Andy in Massachusetts writes:
Trust your neighbors to help you when you're down and out; and remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. The people of Naw'lins are its spirit and the spirit is flying high.

Filed under: New Orleans
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    New Orleans? I thought George W Bush disassociated that city from the U.S.A. Maybe, he just acted like it wasn't there, it's not as if New Orleans voted for him.

    August 26, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  2. Paul Round Rock Texas

    We all should of learned from Kattina even now 5 years latter that none of us can count on the government. The government didn't help the little guy with no bucks did they. Now they continue to go forward at full stop. It all proves we can only count on ourselves and not count on any help.

    August 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  3. bob z fr ,pa.

    the gov does not do any thing right

    August 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  4. John from Alabama

    Jack: Have a plan for nature's disasters or man made disasters. Know how to leave the area, and make sure important papers like Social Security Cards, Bank Statements, and Property information are with you. Do not stay anywhere, if ask to evacuate by the authorities. Remember, we only have one life to live, and it is always better to breathe in a new place than to be dead at home.

    August 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  5. Tyrone Schenectady NY

    Nothing has been learned aside from the FACT that if you are in a low income area you are S.O.L. in America! To see Spike Lee's documentary on New Orleans was eye-opening.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  6. Eugene Myers Flat, CA

    Jack, Katrina and "Brownie" reinforced the reality that the pandering and feckless U.S. Government and F.E.M.A. will stand around and watch helpless Americans die. Now who will be next?

    August 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  7. Johnny C (from Los Angeles)

    Hi Jack –

    The most important realization that should be learned from the catastrophe is that natural disasters of this magnitude will induce more physical and emotional changes in a single day than all of the efforts (from the richest country in the world) to repair the changes will produce in five years after the event.

    If nothing else, it teaches the important values of patience and teamwork.

    Remember Humpty Dumpty? "All the King's Horses and all the King's men, could not put Humpty Dumpty together again". It is the same with mother nature ... she is far bigger and stronger than we (as a people) can ever be.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  8. Lou Averitt

    Nothing because they have not "fixed and finished fixing" New Orleans and surrounding areas. They don't care.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  9. Kevin in Dallas

    The lesson from Katrina is that relying on the government for anything is, hands down, the worst thing you can do.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  10. Jim Mazenis

    Learn to swim.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Melissa

    That there are times when government interference is desperately needed whether certain portions of the population like it or not.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    Number one lesson......don't build in areas below sea level!

    August 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  13. andy Lynn, MA

    Jambalaya, poultry's fine, filet gumbo. What can we learn from Katrina? Hmm, don't trust the promises of a republican president; trust your neighbors to help you when you're down and out; and remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. The people of Naw'lins are its spirit and the spirit is flying high.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  14. Jack, Niceville, FL

    What to learn? Simple – if you live below sea level and a hurricane is coming, don't wait for government help, JUST LEAVE!!! How many thousands of cars were found in the flooded out sections of New Orleans? Yes, the government response could have been better, but many of the people who died or were stuck in the Superdome had nobody to blame but themselves. And rebuilding neighborhoods below sea level or on barrier islands? Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

    August 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  15. Krishna

    Well, Jack, New Orleans can expect to have a ring side seat to watch the spectacle of bickering among the city, state and federal politician. More dirty this time around since Bobby, sorry, Gov. Bobby that is, is positioning himself to be the Republican candidate to face Obama. So, one lesson: help yourself while your governor and your philandering senator Vitter looking elsewhere.

    LCF, CA

    August 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Gary H. Boyd

    That building in a flood plane is not a good idea.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    August 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  17. Phyllis G Williams

    Five years after Katrina, what can the rest of us learn from New Orleans?

    . “whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world..by faith”
    (1st John 5: 4)
    “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12: 21)
    “He that overcometh shall inherit all things” (Revelation 21: 7).

    August 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  18. Loren

    Understand the risks of where you live and don't depend on the government to save your ass when all hell breaks loose. I live in a tornado prone area, so I know that is a risk of life, and if, God forbid, one should strike my home, it is up to me to take care of myself and help my neighbors. Depending on people in Washington or Springfield, IL is a waste of energy, they're not to be trusted.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm |

    We are too dumb to learn anything. We believe anything the republicans, conservatives, tea partiers, or Palin "spoon feed us."

    If the republicans, conservatives, tea partier and Palin's hand picked candidates replace the hard working senators and representatives in charge now, we will know for a fact how stupid we are.

    In New Orleans, the republicans and conservatives congratulated themselves for a whole week on the "good Job" their people on the ground were doing. What a joke.

    Chicago Illinois

    August 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  20. Pete from Georgia

    What can we all learn ?
    We learned that with the right kind of corrupt and deceitful local, state, and LIBERAL federal government, a city can "milk" a natural disaster for years on end, bleeding American taxpayers everywhere with no let up in sight. The fact that the Bush administration MAY have been 48 hrs. late in kicking the corrupt local and state officials aside before taking over will feed the liberal left wing main stream media for years to come.
    Obama does ZERO for over 100 days............DAYS, not hours with the BP oil fiasco and the media sits back and smiles at how pretty his little girls look walking along the beach.
    Beyond pathetic.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  21. JENNA

    Five years after Katrina, what can the rest of us learn from New Orleans?

    1. We can not count on the government to save us
    2. We can count on corruption
    3. We can count on our neighbors, unless we are not white
    4. We can count on the rich being served before the poor
    5. We can count on being used as a prop for political gain


    Roseville CA

    August 26, 2010 at 3:00 pm |
  22. Bizz Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    I hope we have learned to have a plan in place that everyone knows and practiced as to where to go and what to do when you have a hurricane with the magnitude of Karina bearing down on you. First responder should be set up with rescue equipment food and medical supplies and ready to move in as soon as possible. There should be a better and more organized evacuation plan in place. Especially for the people who do not have any place to go. There should be buses ready to take them to a safe shelter. There is one thing though that I cannot help thinking about, would we be even talking about Karina and the aftermath if it would have hit the Hamptons instead of New Orleans?

    August 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  23. Brent, Cleveland, OH

    We've learned that they built the city in a bad place, on land below sea level protected by poorly-built levees.

    The city's come a long way since Katrina, but it's still got huge problems, and probably always will.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  24. JAB in MO

    Be prepared.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  25. Jim S

    I would hope that we learned a lot Jack, but with this bureauracrcy we have in place, it's doubtful. First of all, are the levies being built back any better in terms of quality than the ones who broke? Is any plan in place to evacuate people and get food, water and medical care to
    them any faster? I doubt it! This government has become so big that the left hand doesn't know what t he right hand is doing and that's really what this disaster was all about. Bush's statement to Brownie: You're doing a great job" shows clearly that he didn't have a clue what was going on or what was being done. Now, the profiteers and scammers are having a field day on others misery. Hey, it's the good ole American way Jack. Disgusting!

    August 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  26. Alex in Gig Harbor, WA

    Don't build below sea level and "small government" governors are on their own. Tax cuts never bought a rescue helicopter or relief supplies.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  27. Terry in Chandler, AZ

    What can the rest of us learn from New Orleans? Two things Jack. 1) The feds can do little and will do little. 2) We can hope we can be as strong and resiliant as the citizens of N.O. have been.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  28. Thom Richer

    Much too soon to express any concrete or accurate lesson, positive or negative, regarding New Orleans. There is still much too much rebuilding, economic healing and civic strife to evaluate long term permanent reestablishment of a wholesome and productive city. Enough was not done and is still not being done, to proclaim another, "Mission Accomplished." If there is a lesson in all that has happened it is we failed (in a timely and necessary fashion) in our civic duty to protect and care for citizens and community. Ask this same question 10 more years from now.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    August 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  29. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    Global Warming's sea level rise is going to cost us big, if not bankrupt us.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
  30. Dave, Orlando, FL

    The government has learned nothing. We have learned that for all the taxes we are forced to pay, we can’t count on the government to do a damned thing for us.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm |

    tampa, fl well i have learned that my investment in buying a home made in 1953 (that is paid for), owning my own electric generator, and a 4 month food supply allows me to not carry homeowners insurance, to not be without power for weeks, or going hungry and thirsty should we get hit again. what you can count on is insurance companies not paying, electric companies giving a damn about my health issues, and a government that cares more about everyone outside the usa rather than it's own taxpaying citizens.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  32. Geri

    Katrina then the sluggish response to the Gulf oil crisis tells us that our government hasn't changed much regarding their emergency responses in 5 years, soooooooooooooo. . . .It would be wise for each of us to be prepared for any emergency at all times. This way we don't have to depend to any great degree on anyone, particularly our indifferent government.

    Geri, Mead, OK

    August 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  33. Kathie

    That the federal government has NO plan and is totally incompetant in the face of a disaster. Our government proved it again in the slow response to the gulf oil crisis. Cannot plan on the feds!

    August 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  34. Susan from Idaho

    There's no place like home. The residents have proven that they are made of the right stuff and have given us all a reason to respect them. I have been to New Orleans many times and what I've seen after Katrina is we were down but never out.

    August 26, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  35. Simon, Florida

    Do not rely on the government to fix your sorry life. They will just screw it up.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  36. Steve, Clifton, VA

    The big lesson to be learned is that when we as Americans act collectively for each others common good towards a common goal, we can overcome anything....We need to focus less on party affiliations; race; gender and sexual orientation and focus on the common good of our great country!

    August 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  37. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    That in 20 years, the Gulf Coast and it's people will still be suffering the effects of BP's debacle.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  38. David Scott Doherty

    I think the biggest lesson is that don't rely on our corrupt government to help in disasters, unless you happen to be in a oil rich country.
    Why spend American money on Americans? After all they've spent so much time & effort in pilfering the country, it makes no since to give it back
    Dave from NH.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
  39. keith in ky

    That you need to take the reins of your life and not wait for the goverment or someone else to bail your butt out. Take the lead, be the man, quit crying that someone owes you something, because when you become a adult the only thing you are owed is life,liberty and the persuit of happiness.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  40. Lori - PA


    One one hand, it's good to hear how New Orleans has rebounded. On the other hand, it's sad to hear that there are still quite a lot of empty lots in the poor neighborhoods. As for concerns over the levee systems, I hope the improvements on those can be completed before New Orleans is slammed by another hurricane. If there ever was a lesson about not giving up.....

    August 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  41. Mari, Utah

    Sadly we have learned nothing. The Left says that the Bushies blew it.
    The Right says that people were stupid not to leave.

    There is no mercy.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
  42. Gail, Plano TX

    What can we learn from NO 5 years after Katrina? Obvious answer, Jack. It is always the poor of this society that suffer. Katrina was a disgrace that occurred in the supposed best country in the world! People crying for help and old folks dying in the streets. Witnessed by the everyday Joe, on TV, thanks to an aggressive media. But today Spike Lee's documentary, God willing and da creek don't rise, shows that while some improvements have been made, corruption is still rampant in this historic city.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  43. Renee

    Unfortunately, the main lesson, don't build below sea level, remains unlearned.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm |
  44. Joe CE

    We learned that we still need to prepare for emergencies, identify resources, and to expedite their deployment.. What is still to be learned is that it stupid to rebuild in flood areas without mitigating the hazard.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  45. Michael H. in Albuquerque, NM

    Nothing. NOLA has been an exercise if ignorance and lies. Of negligence and incompetance. For anyone to suggest that NOLA is back better than ever in any sector is a baldfaced lie. It is like saying the economy is getting better when the facts show that it is on the brink of another implosion. It is like saying that there is no more oil spill in the gulf when the oil is just under the surface of the water. The problems in NOLA are not just beneath the surface. The lies and greed are a moldy infestation. The real looters came from banks and corporations after the hurricain. We should have learned to shoot those guys, not the people scavenging for food and water.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  46. Greg, Hamilton Ontario

    Have a heck of a lot of insurance and make sure it covers hurricane ,wind and water damage of all kinds. As well as looting,theft and any other thing you can think of. Also if you live there you might want to have a plan for evacuation. Where you will go at a moments notice and what you will bring with you. A savings account with enough money to get you through emergency times wouldn't be a bad idea either. We don't get hurricanes up here Jack but you should have learned that expecting your government to help you is the biggest mistake you can make. They only act quickly when it comes to saving people in far off countries full of people that don't even like you.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  47. Dennis north Carolina

    you learn to get out of town when they say the big storm is coming.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  48. OBDAG from Appleton, WI

    The most important thing to learn as a result of Katrina and New Orlrrans is that even if the federal government says they will bail you out of a mess that may not actually happen if the economy takes a serious downturn shortly after the problem happens

    August 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  49. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, the main thing we should have learned is that if you build a city below sea level, sooner or later, Mother nature is going to flood the place. DUH!! $300B + later we are still hearing the city whining that somehow "we, the american taxpayers" OWE them something. Obama is flushing another $1.8B down the school system, which is STILL dysfunctional after 5 years of rebuilding, and there is no account of the $300B+, because of the rampant fraud that the citizens of New Orleans committed. The real lesson here is, next time, just bulldoze the city back into the swamp, and start over, it'll be cheaper.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  50. Kevin in CA

    That without some one like General Honore, the government response is going to be stuck on stupid.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  51. Denny from Tacoma

    It means that the government that we financially support and at times defend with our lives is often not there when we really need it.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  52. steve in florida

    That under a GOP administration, you're pretty much on your own. That still holds true under a Democratic administration thats afraid of the GOP. Nothing is going to change in this country until the rights and needs of each individual American are not based on their financial portfolio.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  53. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Jack, everything you need to know about the Big Easy can be found in the lyrics of "The Planet of New Orleans" by the Dire Straits. "New Orleans – the other planet, with other life upon it, and everythin' that's shakin' in between, If you should ever land upon it, you better know what's on it...the planet of New Orleans."

    August 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  54. Michael, Alexandria, VA

    That 57 percent of Americans don't know what they're talking about, since they actually do have disaster plans in place. More generally, what the media should learn is that the facts (like whether a city is prepared) should be investigated rather than polled.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  55. ~BEVERLY~Mystic,Iowa

    NEVER RELY ON, OR TRUST A REPUBLICAN. At least 10 years before that terrible storm, scientists were predicting it, & the nightmare that would follow, if something wasn't done. (There was an excellent documentary on this topic, on the Discovery Channel, years ago.) Scientists didn't know when Katrina would strike, but they knew it was inevitable; just a matter of time. Bush was warned about the danger early on. Then, 2 or 3 years before the storm, a group of experts had a long meeting with Dubbya.They told him that the wetlands must be restored as soon as possible, to minimize the devastation. they talked to him, showed him grafts, diagrams, films, & everything else. He sat in stony silence through it all. – no questions, no comments, no interest. was it because of his lack of interest? Was he day-dreaming about the time when he'd be able to cut switchgrass every day, instead of just 9 months of the year? Was it his disbelief & disregard for all things factual & scientific? Guess we'll never know

    August 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  56. Annie, Atlanta

    It was a real eye opener to realize the Bush Administration couldn’t have cared less about the poor and minorities. Makes me wonder if that’s Republicans in general or just that group, specifically.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  57. Ruby Zimmerman

    Build your house on a rock, not on the sand. Then pray like crazy that you don't lose it in an earthquake.

    Champaign, IL

    August 26, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  58. Jeff in Houston

    The same thing we learned during all of the Bush Regime: If you are not a rich, white male with corporate and/or political connections (and with the Republicans, is there a difference betwwen corporate and political? I think not.), then you really do not matter. Go ahead and die. One less pesky minority type thinking they have rights. What nerve.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  59. Rich McKinney, Texas

    No one is ever ready for a hurricane even with 5 days advance warning which the weather service gave New Orleans. You can plan all you want to but if you choose to live in an area that is prone to hurricanes then it is only a mater of time before your likely to get one. It was unfortunate what happened in New Orleans. No one likes to see people suffer needlessly but if these people keep going back to the same place and rebuilding they are setting themselves up for disaster. Helping people is one thing. Rebuilding somewhere where the likelihood of another catastrophic event is probable is just stupidity. I think should this happen again, which I suspect it will, then tax payers should not be left on the hook for decisions people made on their own to live there.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  60. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Jack, everything you need to know about the Big Easy can be found in the lyrics of "The Planet of New Orleans" by the Dire Straits. "New Orleans – the other planet, with other life upon it, and everythin' that's shakin' in between, If you should ever land upon it, you better know what's on it...the planet of New Orleans."

    August 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  61. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville Texas

    Jack, it means that in times of crisis, you are on your own! It means that our government is so big, so over agencied, so un-interconnected, that at the time of the crisis, it's up to yourself. It means that if a big storm is barreling down on you, get the hell out of town. If you are not birght enough to watch where the hurricanes are tracking, and they "ARE" being tracked well ahead of landfall then you deserve to get wet.
    ...If you build in an area that has a history of being flooded, buddy, you get what you deserve. If you live in a city "UNDER SEA LEVEL" expect to get wet, ALOT!
    I think our government is idiotic rebuilding in areas that will be clobbered again. Get flooded once we'll bail you out, get flooded again, you either move or you're on your own.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  62. suzi

    Do not build in a place like that. They should have bull dozed it all down and built homes etc. somewhere else and saved money.
    We lived in a town that most of it flooded almost every year.
    Their Insurance would settle with them, fix the houses up, and it would happen again. That was so silly.
    The levee was between the river and the town.
    They finally, under protest, built the levee between the river and the town. That settled the problem.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  63. Scott Stodden

    We Have To Learn That Anything Can Happen To Anyone Or Any State At Any Given Time And We Also Have To Learn To Trust Our Elected Officals When Something Like This Happens And If There Not Going To Be There For Us The Way George W Bush Was Not There For New Orleans Then Its Got To Be Up To The People To Make Things Better! Im So Proud Of The State Of Louisiana And The People Of Lousiana And New Orleans Because They've All Come Along Way Since Five Years Ago!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    August 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  64. Kooky in CA

    The progress in New Orleans after five years is at the point of recovery it should have been after a month or two. It should have been completely recovered by now. We need to establish a more direct line of emergency assistance without all the detours. We have so many “government agencies” with overlapping responsibilities that they trip over each other not helping anyone because they think another agency”does that”. In the end, nobody does anything constructive.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  65. David Alexandria VA

    Probably there are four lessons: (1) Don't build a major US city underwater - water always evenyually wins. (2) Don't let your mayor and governor ever convince you that you are safe because it is someone else's responsibililty to make you safe - it's their responsibility. and (3) Don't ever let so much of your critical national infrastruture (like refineries) be in a single, underwater hurricane-prone location again.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  66. lou

    Katrina was an eye opener for me. If, heaven forbid, we ever get attacked on a massive scale in this country, we better all have a back up plan on how to get ourselves safe. Cities and towns need to be planning now in the event of a disaster without waiting for the feds. They will be no help at all.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  67. Ken in NC

    After everything that has happened to that city, It means Brownie didn’t do such a good job.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  68. Alan MIlner

    When they tell you to evacuate, evacuate. Keep a go bag for each member of your family packed and ready at all times. Put together a survival kit with food and essentials for up to 30 days. Do not count on the government for anything....

    August 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  69. William

    What have we learned? Simple. Never, ever again build another town or city which is below sea level and so ever close to an ocean, inlet or gulf area. Pretty simple. Below sea level, you lose. Water has always seeked it lowest level..duh!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  70. Rob D

    Americans should not assume, during a disaster, that their government will be there to protect them. Everyone in the Gulf Coast should have an evacuation plan, basic supplies, and know some basic first aid. When an evac order is given, take heed.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  71. Bernie Guettler

    Jack, we should have learned to keep the Republicans out and vote the
    Democrats into office.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  72. Nancy Shinabarger, Grand Ledge, MI

    We would be better off taking swimming lessons and buying a boat than counting on our dysfunctional government to come to our rescue!
    Warehouses full of supplies that went to waste, fields full of uninhabitable trailers are good examples of government help!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  73. PiedType

    The lesson is clear: You can't count on the federal government for help or to get the job done. People should remember this when they go to the polls.

    Denver, CO

    August 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  74. Allen

    We've learned that man is not as powerful as he thinks he is. Our modern technology has given us a false sense of invinvcibility. The fact is that a strong enough hurricane will destroy the city again and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  75. Jane - Seattle via Texas

    In a word – NO! Lots of hot air and lip service always follows these things but unless the right pockets get lined with tax payer money nothing happens. Our bureacracy is too top heavy for anything to ever get accomplished. Just look at Washington! A large stagnant pool of politics and more politics has taken our "democracy" over and nothing gets done FOR the people, but it just might get done BY the people at the local level. Forget Uncle Sam.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  76. Terry

    After five years, the federal government or any government has learned nothing about organizing a response to any major event. It's all simple reasoning as near as I can tell...they sure respond quickly to every other country's natural disasters. Maybe just amplify the way the respond to international catastrophes and write that down and when it happens on home soil, refer to what they've written down from international experience.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  77. Jim Blevins

    God sure could have done a better job when he invented people.

    Jim, Craig, CO

    August 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  78. Alex Esterhase, Venice Florida

    American government, both Republicans and Democrats seem more concerned about providing aid to foreign countries e.g.. Pakistan as current case in point, rather than looking after its own.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  79. Mario

    Lesson 1: Don't live in Aqua Buddha's neighborhood. Lesson 2: It's so much easier to stir fry shrimp now that it comes fresh out of the ocean already marinated in crude.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  80. mark

    What did we learn? Nothing We,as a nation,don't seem to be able to learn anything anymore.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  81. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – There is no substitute for competent government. Less government, more government are not important, only GOOD government. Katrina did not harm NO, failures of levees did – responsibility of Levee Commission, Army Engineers. Bad plans, shoddy workmanship to blame.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  82. Bill from Elverson, Pa.

    Jack it means simply that one should prepare to take care of themselves in the times of crisis.
    We should also recognize the resilliance and overwhelming charity of our citizenship.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm |

    Jack; Nothing have change with the politicians,They are still asleep at the switch.When something happens,They try to blame each other. same old same old. trash

    August 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  84. Jason

    Jack, I live in Mid-City New Orleans and we now flood after a heavy rains thanks to the new pumps that were installed after Gustav. If we can't get pumps that can handle a heavy rain how can we hope that the government will take care of the people when they are taking care of businesses that won't deliver a working pump.


    August 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  85. Thomas

    1. The Governor in ANY State MUST request aid before it is given. It is part of the States Rights.
    2. The Governor in LA did not make the request until after the storm.
    3. New Orleans and LA have has a history of corruption. The original plan of the levee system has never been completed. EVER !
    4. The Mayor had transportation at his disposal and did not use it.
    5. If you are stupid enough to stay in an area that is under sea level you deserve what you ask for.
    6. I was in Hurricane Andrew. I lost everything. I never complained about aid or protection. I also got my family and myself to safety before the storm.
    7. We had aid imediately because the Governor of FLA relenquished the power to the FED when the storm hit. NOT AFTER.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  86. Alan Webb

    How about this as an eye-opener – build ABOVE sea level next time – a lot simpler to keep the water out. Sometimes common sense seems to be overridden by attachment to a particular piece of land. I grew up in the south and it grates on my nerves when I hear on a sound bite that "I'll rebuild here again the rest of my life." Why is it sentiment overrides rational thinking and cost all of us taxpayers so much of our hard earned money? I'm tired of bailing out people who insist living BELOW the waterline, be it rivers or the ocean. There's lots of open land out there, America is a big country.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  87. Jane - Seattle via Texas

    P.S. I am so sick of people blaming Katrina and its aftermath on the Bush Administration. PULEEEEZE. I think Barbara Bush nailed it when she said it's working out pretty good for most of them – especially the ones that left and haven't gone back. Great party city but underneath is rotten corruption at all levels and that explains the lack of infrastructure and refusal to implement RECOMMENDED disaster plans – but hey! Let's blame it on Bush – after all he's the moron that decided to build BELOW SEA LEVEL – right? LOL

    August 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  88. Jim

    5 years after Katrina just proves that the well to do profit on other people suffering. Notice that the entertainment areas are up and running but the housing area of the poor is still in disarray. Enough said.


    August 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  89. Nita Hemeter

    Don't depend on the Corps of Engineers to protect you with Federal Levees. Nita Hemeter New Orleans

    August 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  90. John Schilling, Chambersburg, PA

    Don't build a city below sea-level. By doing so you're only inviting disaster and requiring the rest of us to (pardon the pun) bail you out.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  91. Meredith

    Jack, we are on our own. The big mistake is hoping that the government will make the decisions for you in a time of crisis or natural disaster like Katrina. You need to think for yourself. Clearly, the decision to stay put in New Orleans was the wrong one, but expecting Bush and our govt. to rescue you was a silly thought indeed.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  92. w.c.wiyda

    the one thing I learned from katrina was not to trust the insurance company's even after a federal judge ruled they have to pay damages the ruling is being appealed. i live 50yds from the beach in fl. so i paid off my house and i dropped my insurance.I now put my mortgage and insurance payments in my own money market account. to heck with those thieves.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  93. Janice K Ward

    After years of conservatives clling for small government, we should not be surprised that we have a government incapable of dealing with big problems (Katrina, education, immigration, corruption, etc.). You get what you pay for.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  94. Mark

    Jack, I live in San Antonio, Texas. Our government, Federal and local is so corrupt, our civil servants individually so lazy and incompetent, if our water supply dried up (likely), an pestilence from say south of the border (possible) , or a terrorist act (going to happen somewhere)would end the city and life as we know it. My sense is that San Antonio is just another town on another day in America. Clueless, helpless, and follishly believing that their government be there to help. Trust me we are as dumb as Andy from Brooklyn, we would rather see our troops off to war than live in a safe community.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  95. Allen in Hartwell GA

    I went through Hurricane Camile back in 1969 at Keesler AFB, MS, so I know a little of what I say. I think the biggest lesson we could learn from any hurricane is that if you build too close to the coast, and especially if you build below the ocean level, you will get flooded out of your home when a big one hits.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  96. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Dear Jack,

    when I see the people resilience and their involvement in all the rebuilding done for infrastructures, homes, communities and businesses and all the investments in education I see many lessons to be learn from all of us!The main one is : regardless of people views as democrats, republicans or independents people do not give up on rebuilding their life and they do not give up on being there for one another in facing so many struggles and challenges! You know Jack, I see the exact America that we all know does exist at all times even with all the current political mood! I see the America of the 21st century building once again the next century made in America! Take great care!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  97. Greg in Cincinnati

    Hi Jack or maybe I shouldn't say (Hi Jack) in these days of political correctivness.

    I think people could learn alot of things about living in a place like New Orleans. MOVE MORE INLAND, instead of going back to the same problems that are going to keep people in the same dangerous environment that led them to this type of misery. If they are going to complain about government screwing up the works, like they did after Katrina, then move away and don't go back to the same environment that got them there in the 1st place.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  98. Ray Tokareff

    Jack; some of us already know the government is good sometimes if they are accountable and if they are not , like under Bush, then all Hell will break louse and you are screwed. I hope that in the future they will get better but I know we must hold their feet to the fire of public opinion and to do that you people in the media MUST BE HARDER ON THEM!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  99. Anthony from NJ

    That a buffoon who happened to become president because his father was one, screwed up the Katrina disaster at it's conception is another disaster put on Obama's platter.
    Now that the government is bankrupt thanks to W., Obama, the magician , is expected to make everything right.
    I hate short-term memory!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  100. Mary Steele Yorktown VA

    To take personal responsibility instead of depending on the government for everything! If you build in flood zone, what do you expect to happen. Yes the wall should have been fixed to withstand the storm and Bush was a horrible president and should be in prison, but we all see the poor job it does and must to do for ourselves. And until the government stops wasting our tax dollars and forcing us to take care of people that shouldn't be here to begin with, we will always be broke. Obama is spending like there is no tomorrow, all in the guise of helping us, wake people and take care of yourself, and not depend on the government because money has ran out and we cannot keep printing or borrowing it-that will be our final demise!!

    Yorktown VA

    August 26, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  101. Jacqueline Mongeot

    Whether we become victims of a flood or of a uncontrolable fire or other calamity we have to be prepared – valuables, papers, deeds, insurances etc. in a safe place, have water and food and basic necessities ready and above all, be resilient counting on ourselves first, welcoming help if anyone shows up but do not count on it. WWII taught me that.
    Jacqueline San Diego CA

    August 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  102. Mike Grinberg, Maui

    What we should learn is that water flows downhill, and it therefore isn't a good idea for lung breathers to live below sea level, unless their last name is Cousteau. Forget building levees: Build high-rises, and let it become New Venice. I lived in New Orleans for a year. Great place to visit: Probably not great place to reside.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  103. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio


    You know the positive spin will be the one digested by the public regarding the renovated New Orleans. After all if 10 percent are unempmloyed, that means 90 percent are doing fine and making more money and going to the "jazz city". For those ten percent I think one thing it means that if you find yourself in a tragedy, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, remember to curb your desperation, or you could be shot.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  104. Blake on Long Island


    There are many lessons of resiliency and determination, as well as hypocrisy and abandonment....

    While I credit the people of New Orleans for their resiliency and determination, I condemn the politicians who look for photo ops and then turn their backs on the people....and it appears to be selective....

    For Example, why are there no health facilities in the lower ninth ward and only one educational facility....oh we are going to change that as private citizens that I promise you...however the failure of the gov't to ensure that all New Orleaneans have the most basic of needs healthcare facilities and schools is a travesty that we can all learn from. Namely, that the gov't of the people isnt always for all of its people....what a shame!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  105. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    What was most inspiring were the volunteers, ordinary people from all over, who came to the aid of the citizens and animals of New Orleans who weren't government employees. And let's not forget the importance of medial coverage because they too deserve a lot of credit.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  106. Tom-Vermillion Ohio

    The 109th Congress was Republican controlled in both the House and Senate along with the Republican Whitehouse. Little to nothing has occured until the Democrats took control in 2009. Expect total collapse should Congress be Republican controlled in 2011. The Second Great Depression will begin 'officially' October 2010 because of the Republicans blocking vital economic recovery legislation to date. Expect a lot more of the same and worse.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  107. MP

    need to learn that we need to learn from the dutch to build towns if they are below sea level.

    -silver, NM

    August 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  108. Ann Marie from SC

    It seems that one thing our federal government has not learned is how to get around the red tape to get things done in a disaster. Everyone was complaining that Obama's reaction the oil spill was too slow, again caused by bureauacracy. Procedures for disasters need to be streamlined. For hurricanes, all could take lessons from Charleston and from South Carolina. They learned after Hugo in 1989 how to respond to a hurricane, and I am impressed. Folks can moan and finger point at Bush all they want, but that won't get the bureaucrats moving – they are all too busy passing the buck.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  109. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    Don't mess with nature. When an evacuation is called – get out.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  110. Mike S., New Orleans

    I hope Americans have learned that every region has its potential disasters: blizzards, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, and more.
    And I hope every American realizes why there were so many people questioning whether or not New Orleans should be rebuilt.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  111. Barry MacKay, Markham, Ontario, Canada

    That Brownie really didn't do a heck of a job.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  112. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    Don't depend on the government to build levies, they are not known for building anything that will last.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  113. John from San Antonio

    The most noticeable attribute of government is its incompetence.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  114. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    Don't depend on the government to build levies. They forgot that they have to hold back water.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  115. Margaret Owens

    We've learned that, unless Congress gets control of spending by eliminating non-essential programs, we cannot afford the government we need.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  116. Harrison Pratt

    And NEVER, NEVER build in a flood plain!

    And don't rebuild in a flood plain, either!

    August 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  117. Brian (From Chicago)

    There are just some things in this world that are out of our control. We can only prepare the best we can

    August 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  118. kevin dieter

    My daughter also recently graduated from Tulane. My visits to New Orleans have won me over. The people, the culture, the food...all are unique and we would do well to pay more attention to the spirit and basic gratitude that the people of NOLA exhibit daily.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  119. James in Idaho

    All those not related to Aquaman, residing in a sub sea level coastal city should probably leave.

    August 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm |