New Orleans Failed To Heed Warnings – AGAIN!

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In the days before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005, people were told to evacuate the city. Some people left for higher ground. In the hours leading up to the hurricane slamming into the below-sea-level city, some New Orleans officials continued to ignore or minimize the warnings from the National Weather Service. Many residents chose to stay in their homes.

In the aftermath of the devastating hurricane that dumped over seven inches of rain on the ill-prepared city, New Orleans citizens and city officials begged the federal government to come to bail them out.

Graphic images of rows of flooded school buses in a locked yard are seared in my mind. The Superdome, filled with evacuees begging for someone else to come help them, still echo in my mind. But the warnings that alerted those residents to leave went unheeded.

About 14,000 people died in New Orleans and the surrounding area from Hurricane Katrina. How many lives could have been saved if only the residents had done what everyone told them to do? On top of the outright death toll, looting, murder, and rape added to the misery of the city.

Fast forward 15 years to February 2020. Mardi Gras plans had already been made. Floats and krewes were ready and hotel rooms were fully booked.

The coronavirus was already well on its way to becoming the global pandemic we now know it to be. But the financial cost of canceling the New Orleans events would have been high. Fox Business reports that Mardi Gras has an economic impact of more than $1 billion! Were the warning signs drowned out by dollar signs?

In the same way, alarms sounded in the face of Hurricane Katrina, the COVID-19 alarms were already being sounded as the virus spread across the U.S.

Again, New Orleans failed to heed the warnings. City officials defiantly went before the cameras and microphones to staunchly announce that the annual events would proceed, culminating with Mardi Gras on February 25th.

People poured into the bars and restaurants and onto the crowded streets. Parades, parties, dances, picnics, and everything else New Orleans is known for went on. I remember shaking my head and thinking that people were crazy to participate in those activities in such close quarters.

After Marti Gras was over everyone went home. People drove home and they flew home to the far corners of the U.S. Then, just like clockwork, two weeks later New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Coronavirus.

Ill-prepared city officials begged the government to come to bail them out. Again. Hospitals, filled with infected citizens, begged for someone else to come help them. Forbes reported that New Orleans COVID-19 deaths skyrocketed 312% in just one week.

City and state officials even went so far as to blame President Trump for not warning them about the Coronavirus. Isn’t this deja vu all over again?

Fox News reported that New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she would have canceled Mardi Gras if the government had told her to do so. But she’s the leader of the city. It was her call. Orleans Parish now has the highest per capita COVID-19 death rate in the U.S. – 12 per 100,000 residents, twice the rate of New York City.

It’s not like New Orleans is the only city to ignore the Coronavirus warnings and defy government guidelines. In February, New York City officials told residents to go out and enjoy life, spend money, and socialize. We all know how that turned out.

On February 1st, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio held a press conference with Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot to sound the alarm after the first New Yorker contracted the coronavirus. De Blasio assured residents that the issue was being addressed by the federal and city governments, but to be vigilant. Nevertheless, they encouraged New Yorkers to go about their daily business.

But he already knew how bad it was in China. De Blasio even compared COVID-19 to Ebola, saying this isn’t as bad.

By February 15th he started talking about quarantining citizens. Yet, for some reason, he told New Yorkers that the virus, “should not stop you from going about your life, people going into Chinatown, going out to eat.”

He added, “Until we know fully how to handle the virus, we have to assume it will be with us for a long time,” and to “be in a vigilant state.” He didn’t know how prophetic he was.

The federal government is working hard to help New Orleans fight COVID-19 just as it helped out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But how many times can you protect a city from itself?

People all over the country have been warned repeatedly and often to practice “social distancing” and “self-isolation,” but they continue to gather and congregate and socialize and party. As the infection rate and the death toll continued to rise all over the country, people still attended church, traveled to spring break, and went on cruises. So how can you protect an entire country from itself?

 

Image from: insider.com


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