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August 29th, 2008
08:42 AM ET

Honoré on NOLA: If they get hit again, they'll find a way out this time

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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 the possibility of New Orleans being hit by another hurricane. The conversation seemed quite hypothetical, or at least a situation much further away... But now as Gustav threatens the Gulf Coast, our conversation takes on a whole new feeling.

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We've already had several storms make landfall this year, if a hurricane hits New Orleans again – are they prepared now?

In a way I think the government is better prepared. I know they’ve invested in more; the levees have been reinforced and reshaped. They’ve acquired some backup communications, which a big problem after Katrina. They’ve conducted training for first responders.

But it’s going to be a wait-and-see.. Because you know what? Government can do all they want to prepare, but if people don’t prepare themselves, it doesn’t mean much. If you're dealing with 200,000 to 300,000 people as was the case in New Orleans, there’s only so much government can do to prepare. It’s incumbent on the families to do their preparation part… to be prepared to evacuate when the mayor says they need to evacuate.

In New Orleans, the people are in better shape. The life experience they gained from living in the storm, they'll find a way out this time. More of them will leave if it happened again.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Jolene

    General Honoré has a great point about people needing to be prepared. I would only add that there needs to be a plan for the animals and family pets too. I will always remember how many people refused to leave because they weren't allowed to take their pets. Seeing dogs running the street scared, starving, and left to die was just as heartbreaking to me as the tragedy itself.

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 29, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  2. Mike, Vietnam

    Best of luck to families in New Orleans, prayers go out to you. I from Baton Rouge and have family in New Orleans and it seems like yesterday I pulling their belongings out of big trash piles in street! Hopefully all are prepared this time. I know my family is.

    August 29, 2008 at 9:48 am |
  3. Cindy

    I hope that what Honore says is true and that they have reshaped the levees and reinforced them. And also that they have a better system in place now to help the people evacuate.

    I hope that he was truthful seeing that they didn't do that great of a job last time. Plus look who is running things there...Nagin. He isn't one that you can really trust anything that he says.

    Cindy...Ga.

    August 29, 2008 at 8:49 am |