Hurricanes Test How Well States Learned from Katrina

By  | 

NEW ORLEANS - As Hurricane Ike may be making a path toward the Gulf coast, crews continue to help Louisiana with recovery efforts from Hurricane Gustav.

The Kansas National Guard sent 600 troops to Louisiana last week.

Major General Tod Bunting, Kansas' adjutant general, traveled to Louisiana yesterday to visit with the 600 Kansas soldiers in the state assisting with the Gustav recovery.

Bunting says Kansans can relate to the back-to-back storm reports that Louisiana residents and officials are facing.

Both Kansas and Louisiana officials say lessons they learned from Katrina helped prepare for Gustav and are looking ahead to Hurricane Ike.

The Kansas soldiers have been scattered throughout Louisiana. They're handing out commodities, and assisting with communications
and the dispatch of soldiers from Louisiana and 21 other states.

Almost 90 percent of the New Orleans population paid heed as Mayor Ray Nagin issued an evacuation order. As residents returned over the weekend, they found a line of relief supplies available for handout from National Guard soldiers.

The 600 Kansas National Guard soldiers have been scattered throughout Louisiana, handing out commodities to those who have returned home to New Orleans.

Col. Johnny Ball said now that Gustav has passed, the biggest challenge is getting the citizens re-integrated back into the city. But he says so far, so good.

"They seem very grateful," said Ball. "They're pleased with how they were treated."

Sgt. Bill Andrews helped handout food items to those returning to the city. "We've had a lot of people come through thanking us for what we're doing. We're glad to be out here," Andrews said.

The citizens of New Orleans may have been inconvenienced by another evacuation, but most involved say this time around is no comparison to Hurricane Katrina.

Col. Ball said, "Because of the lessons we learned during Katrina, we've applied those lessons to this hurricane and because of that, things are going much better."

Life-long New Orleans resident, Sylvia Stanley agreed the evacuation for Gustav went much smoother than three years ago for Hurricane Katrina. "Oh it was wonderful this time. It was really wonderful. They got everybody out. Everything was flowing."

While Gustav is on his way to becoming just a memory, Hurricane Ike is threatening yet another gulf evacuation.

"Little concerned about that, but we can't control it so the best thing we can do is like we did for this one; be prepared and ready to go," said Col. Ball.

Stanley is confident New Orleans residents will persevere. "We're gonna survive. I did this 54 years. We're gonna be alright."

The Guards have orders to be in Louisiana through September 15, but say they're prepared to stay until the city doesn't need them anymore.