Federal, state and local emergency management officials are saying they are prepared for when Hurricane Isaac is expected to make landfall on the Gulf Coast because of increased communication, collaboration and structural improvements.
Residents in New Orleans have not remained as optimistic, however, as many still have memories of the devastation of Katrina only seven years in their rearview. Although rebuilt levees now tower 16 feet higher than when Katrina hit, the levee project is not yet complete. According to a spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers, construction gaps in the levee system would be temporarily fixed with sandbags and Hesco baskets.
A state of emergency was declared Sunday by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and many New Orleans residents were expected to heed voluntary evacuation warnings. Hurricane Isaac, listed Tuesday as Category 1, is expected to make landfall along the Louisiana-Mississippi border Tuesday night.
As Hurricane Isaac approaches, the emergency management strategy of FEMA is facing political scrutiny to see whether the revamped agency and its new director will avoid the criticism that plagued Michael Brown and the Bush administration when Katrina hit in 2005.
Craig Fugate, the director of FEMA, has been at the helm for more than three years, but has not faced much public scrutiny. That will likely change with Hurricane Isaac, given the timing of the Republican and Democratic conventions and the memory of a bungled response in the Gulf during Katrina. FEMA has also been a political target of proposed budget cuts and criticism, most notably by Rep. Ron Paul during his presidential primary campaign this year.
Fugate has been noted as a stark contrast from Michael Brown, the director who resigned from FEMA after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, drawing compliments from both Republican and Democratic politicians following the response to Hurricane Irene in the northeast last year. Fugate was tapped by President Obama for the post after serving two decades in disaster management at the state level in Florida.
- Earthquake ‘swarm’ in southern California: nuisance or threat? - Christian Science Monitor
According to seismologists, the rare swarm of earthquakes that have recently plagued southern California are not indicative of a looming large-scale quake, but are caused by the region’s unique geology.
The earthquakes have occurred along the Brawley zone, which does not possess a major fault line. The area, however, was described by one seismologist as “a big bowl of sediment.” The earthquakes are not expected to have an impact on the rest of California’s fault lines, but the recent small earthquakes are serving as a reminder to adequately prepare for when a larger earthquake occurs.
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