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Americans need reminder to be better prepared for disasters

January 24, 2008
Enormous sums of taxpayers’ money — in the billions of dollars — are being spent to repair damage from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and to prepare that city for the next big storm.

But what about Miami, which also is vulnerable to hurricanes? Or large areas of California that can be swept by wildfires? Or, for that matter, the tornado-prone plains of the Midwest?

Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, the colorful leader who led federal troops into New Orleans after Katrina, is preparing to retire from the Army and embark on a new career. He hopes to remind Americans that most of us need to be ready to face disasters. “A vast part of America still thinks, ‘That couldn’t happen where I live.’ And they are dead damn wrong,” Honore told a reporter this week.

He’s right, of course. But his point pertains to government as well as to American individuals and families.

We encourage Honore, then, to take his message to leaders of local, state and national governments — who sometimes seem so busy trying to repair the real and public relations damage from disasters in the past that they do not devote enough resources to a truly comprehensive plan to address those of the future.



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