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August 29th, 2008
02:45 PM ET

'Hanna', not 'Gustav' could make one city 'the next New Orleans'

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Editor's Note: Anderson Cooper 360° is in New Orleans tonight, as Tropical Storm Gustav barrels toward the Gulf of Mexico, expected to reach Category 3. We'll look at whether New Orleans is ready, after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina exactly three years ago today. Watch our special report tonight at 10p ET.

David M. Reisner
AC360° Digital Producer

Today, on the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans braces for the possibility of yet another hurricane, this time named Gustav, and the possibility of a direct hit.

General Honoré was known best for serving as commander of ‘Joint Task Force Katrina.’ He was responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast. Now retired, he spends much of his time in the region, and works to prepare families for future natural disasters.

I caught up with the general as he was traveling from his Georgia home to New Orleans last week. Our conversation covered as much ground as the general did, and we will share with you parts of that conversation over the course of the day.

We talked about other cities that if faced by a hurricane, could be decimated. Before I could finish the question, he had his answer....

As if the coincidence of having Hurricane Gustav threaten the Gulf Coast wasn't enough,
"Tropical Depression 8" has formed and is set to become Tropical Storm Hanna... and it's quite possible by the end of next week, 'Hanna' could head towards the city General Honoré warned us about.

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What about other cities, what other cities need more planning, what do you fear could be the next ‘New Orleans?’

Miami.

You have a large population, its right on the water, there’s no buffer between Miami and the gulf. New Orleans has about 60 miles of land between it and the gulf, so it was somewhat protected by the marshland, and the terrain leading up to the city. But if you take a city like Miami. It can get hit like Biloxi.

Biloxi got hit with a 30 ft wall of water because there was nothing between Biloxi and the gulf. The storm just came right out of the gulf and came right into the metropolitan area.

Houston also scares me. Houston is the 4th largest city. Both cities have close concentration of people, many people live in high rise. Houston has a lot of chemical plants and a lot of stored poisonous gases, things that are ‘industrial grade’ stored in their port.

What scares me the most about Miami is the number of people in structures that are sitting right on the water… without any protection? Like Biloxi, if you get a tidal surge with 30 feet of water, it would just about destroy most of that south eastern coast of Miami.

The other thing that scares me about Miami is the people in Florida are very hard headed. They don’t like to evacuate. The reason they don’t, is due to the fact that they see a lot of storms come through their state. They’ve become conditioned to the fact. 'Hey it's just another storm.' If you do a mandatory evacuation of Florida, the best you’re going to get is 50 percent of the people evacuating. Some won't move. Even with a mandatory evacuation.

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Heather

    I can't speak for citizens of Miami, but I can say honestly as a Floridian, sometimes we don't really have a choice. Even in a "mandatory" evacuation, many of us aren't given the time by our jobs to evacuate. Many of the places around here won't close unless it's at least a category three. The tourist attractions often have their employees come in to work even then and simply direct them to fill and move sand bags rather than do the job they're hired for.

    August 31, 2008 at 3:19 am |
  2. diane

    I live in Miami and yes we do get alot of storms I for one do not live on the beach, but I can tell you that if I did and a storm is coming towards us me and my kids will evacuate immediately. I live in the city and with every storm I still prepare myself. My kids laugh at me but i do not care because if and when we get another Andrew I will be prepared.

    August 30, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Margaret Ellen-Appleton WI

    Northeastern Florida to Southern New England are VERY vulnerable to dangerous storms like Katrina, Andrew, Gilbert, Alicia, Donna, Wilma and Hugo. Savannah, Philly, Baltimore, Boston, New York City, New Haven, New London, Annapolis, Richmond, the Cape Hatteras, Wilmington and Elizabeth City happen being vulnerable! It ain't only Gustav, you must put your eyes on Hannah and keep focused on HER too, because she could become EXTREMELY similar to Hurricane Alicia, Hugo, Gilbert, Andrew, etcetera!
    Please share your thoughts about these East Coast States! And Honore was right! Miamians are densely hardheaded AND arrogant-if Miamians become highly unwilling to listen when major hurricanes are headed towards THEM the results would prove extremely TERRIBLE! Another Andrew would sweep Miami COMPLETELY clean and wipe out the surrounding area!

    August 30, 2008 at 3:32 am |
  4. Margaret Ellen-Appleton WI

    Hurricane Gustav has the potential for being an elevated catastrophe like Alicia, Andrew, Hugo and Charley and Camille! Making matters worse, Hannah is setting her sights toward somewhere between Northeastern Florida and Eastern Maryland-including Charleston and Wilmington, Savannah and Norfolk, Annapolis and Baltimore! Please tell me-should Baltimore, Annapolis, Norfolk and Richmond, New York City, Philly, Hartford Connecticut, New London, New Haven and Providence fall victim to Katrina, Andrew, Alicia, Hugo and Camille type hurricane winds, intense rains and storming surge what would happen THERE?!!

    August 30, 2008 at 3:18 am |
  5. Lilly

    I agree, Miami is at a great risk, we already experienced it with Hurricane Andrew, which luckily made landfall to the "lesser" populated area in Miami (Homestead), but if a major hurricane is to hit the metropolitan area, God save us...State of Florida is not prepared for the storms as we saw with TS Fay, flooding stranded people for days...We are having very active hurricane seasons in the past few years and I hope it is just the up side of the cycle and not a result of the damages human kind is causing on planet earth. I pray that my family and I make it safe if any storm is to hit Miami.

    August 30, 2008 at 12:49 am |
  6. Annie Kate

    Two hurricanes to worry about! I hope Hannah goes up the Atlantic coast and doesn't strike any place head on but goes back out to sea. This is some year for extreme weather.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 29, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  7. Sharon from Indy

    I talked to a meteorologist from U of Colorado today. He said that Hannah will probably go up the Atlantic coast.

    August 29, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  8. Richard Murray

    A key point brought out here is that it's not just New Orleans that's at risk. I had the privilege of working as a volunteer from the Canadian Red Cross and served in Harrison County after Katrina. The media needs to pull the spotlight from New Orleans and look at what all of the Gulf coast is about to go through.
    These incoming storms will have a major economic and psychological impact on the region.
    The people in these areas will be in my thoughts while they endure these storms and their aftermath.

    August 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  9. Michelle

    Has this ever happened before. Two powerful and potentially
    deadly storms on opposite coast.

    August 29, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  10. Cindy

    I think any town that sits on any coastal area in the US should have extensive hurricane plans. No matter if it is a small or large city!

    Cindy...Ga.

    August 29, 2008 at 3:04 pm |