Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Preventive Measures Could Have Saved More from Katrina

As DRUDGE reminds us, there were warnings before Katrina hit telling people they'd be on ther own if they didn't leave now. Of course, as has been pointed out, both the city government of New Orleans and the state government of Louisiana were slow in implementing their own evacuation plans. Why? Was it because they feared that if they implemented said plan--and if Katrina wasn't as bad as had been feared--they would be portrayed as contemporary boys-crying-wolf? Did they themselves not take it seriously enough?

As an engineer involved in managing and implementing preventive and predictive maintenance policies in industry, I am well-acquainted with the idea that if you pay a little up front, you will probably forestall paying a lot--usually unexpectedly--down the line. Planning ahead and paying $200 in labor and parts and losing a few hours to machinery downtime is much better than a catastrophic and unexpected loss that could necessitate replacing the equipment entirely and losing valuable time in production. This common sense approach could have been implemented by the bureaucrats of New Orleans and Louisianna--and thousands of lives could have been saved--but it wasn't.

Instead they whine about the (inevitably) slow reaction of one red-tape laden bureaucracy (FEMA), and try to hide the fact that they, the bureaucrats closer to the situation, should have proactively put into action an adequate evacuation plan, thereby lessening the need for such reliance upon federal aid.

It should have been obvious that the existing plan failed to account for those who could not independently get out of the area. It should have been obvious that, given this last, the people stuck in New Orleans shouldn't have been left to bring their own food and supplies into the Superdome. These are just some of the problems that should have been foreseen. Instead, too many waited for someone else to make the call. Now, when it is too late, they cast about, looking for someone other than themselves to blame for the tragedy. What a shame. If they had done an adequate job of saving the skins of their citizens, they wouldn't have to worry about saving their own.

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