When nature is the enemy

When nature is the enemy

Hurricane Katrina might have exposed more of our vulnerabilities than did the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

You can't stop Mother Nature, so there is no war to wage on hurricanes in hopes of lessening the potential for these monster storms. There is no enemy who wants to destroy us that we can attack. Nor is prevention an option with hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The aftermath of Katrina laid bare faults and mistakes in planning and execution of response efforts from the local level up to the federal government.

The country is still sorting through the debris that Katrina left, even as we weather another hurricane season.

In this issue, a team of reporters examines the disaster and how government agencies and contractors have responded.

Some of the news is good. For example, many jurisdictions are investing in technology to improve interoperability and communications among different groups of first responders and levels of government. They want to share information quickly and seamlessly, and they're making the investment to do it.

Other projects include building local and national warning systems that send alerts to devices such as cell phones and PDAs.

The old news is that bad habits often are hard to break ? witness the still-extant turf wars and disagreements over what the top priorities should be.

Government, like the rest of humanity, often suffers from what one
source called "old think."

That's one problem that even the best technology cannot fix.

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