Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Tsunami Communication Plan Is Making the Rounds; Katrina's Lessons Become Obvious

For a new companion web log on Hurricane Katrina's lessons, go here.

Hurricane Katrina's unbelievable aftermath has the full attention of NOAA's personnel, and that's certainly to be respected. My public affairs contact nevertheless took a moment to e-mail the news that the first draft of a new communications protocol to handle tsunami information dissemination is under review by NOAA's Hawaii and Alaska regional directors. He hoped for feedback by September 2, but that may be too much to ask due to the hurricane.

The new web log referenced above poses questions that might well be addressed to any community's disaster planning experts after they're modified to fit local circumstances. The New Orleans experience suggests that despite all the hoopla about pre-planning to handle any emergency, all that planning produced dreadful results.

NOAA's tsunami experts worked long and hard to justify their actions after the December tsunami, and this web log has suggested alternative actions that may have saved lives. There's zero chance Gulf Coast disaster management personnel will get away with a similar performance, and critics have every right to press hard for explanations.

Perhaps Katrina's legacy will be an end to the we-have-it-handled attitude that disaster planners always seem to evoke after natural disasters. Never again should citizens blindly accept those assurances. Katrina surely tells us that much.

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