What Wal-Mart and FEMA don't have in common

Wal_mart_logo1For anyone who's been tempted to absolve the Feds—FEMA in particular—of some major culpability in the handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and shift blame to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, here are some sobering thoughts from Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans. He drew some unfortunate comparisons between how FEMA handled the crisis, as opposed to—in his view—the more effective response from Wal-Mart on Meet the Press this past weekend. As for New Yorkers who feel safe living in a city above sea level, they should take heed of this story, which gives dire scenarios for what could happen here after a hurricane like Katrina. While news stations tend to hype hurricane warnings to a level that can sometimes induce mind-numbing indifference among viewers, the damage in New Orleans clearly provides fresh perpsective. And all the more reason to demand local and state officials be prepared. (Remember, New Yorkers, there's a mayoral election  in November. Choose well.) In the meantime, if you're thinking of a long-term donation for survivors of this Gulf Coast tragedy, Habitat for Humanity International might be a good place to start.

—Posted by Kathleen Sampey

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