It may have been one year -- and one hurricane too late -- but Mayor Ray Nagin has come up with a firm plan for evacuation when a Category Two storm approaches. It may save lives and a lot of utter frustration when the inevitable happens again.
We canít criticize the mayor too much for the tragedy that befell the city last year. After all, the hurricane had past when the devastation started.
Had the levees held, it would have been business as usual in the Crescent City within a few days. He should, however, have ordered a mandatory evacuation earlier, which is a brilliant afterthought.
Under the new regulations he came up with, a mandatory evacuation will mean citizens may remain in their homes, if they insist. However, they cannot go outdoors. The Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center wonít be shelters any more but merely staging areas for catching buses and other transportation in evacuating.
Citizens without transportation will be picked up at designated points around the city. Elderly and infirm people will be evacuated via Amtrak from Union Station.
It sounds like a good plan. If they can secure the necessary buses and evacuation sites, it should serve as a model for future evacuations around the country.
Evacuations from New Orleans in the past have not been all bad. They were far better than the evacuation, or non-evacuation, from Houston before Hurricane Rita last year when many people were either trapped on the interstate or gave up and went back home.
Naginís plan unsurprisingly came out just in time for the second primary election May 20. It should help him give the impression that he will be in control next time.
Baton Rouge gets a drenching last weekend
And while on the subject of interstate tie-ups, Saturday was no day to be in Baton Rouge to attend my wifeís 50th high school class reunion. The rain came down in washtubs and flooded I-110 as we were going through town after a picnic in St. Francisville.
Stranded for over an hour, cars started going the wrong way up the exit ramps to try and get out of there. We were about to follow but saw a piece of neutral ground barely big enough for a car between the deep water and the wall dividing the two sides of the interstate.
We made it through and went on unimpeded to where we were to spend the night. But in spite of it all, the rainfall was a welcomed site after weeks of drought has caused such problems.
St. Charles did not get as much rain as Baton Rouge Saturday, but at least we have gotten enough to sustain life for the time being. Hopefully, more will come in the reasonable amounts we are used to.
Mayorís race is getting to fever pitch
And back on the subject of the mayorís race, the storm is regenerating in New Orleans in the form of a heated runoff in the mayoral race.
Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu has castigated Mayor Ray Nagin for the remarks he made that may have alienated federal support for our plight. And Nagin stated that Landrieu, as second highest official in the state, exercised little leadership in that aftermath to help the state.
True, the mayor did make some unpopular remarks on national television. But one must remember he was under intense pressure, and he apologized for them.
Landrieu, on the other hand, does not have a lot of power as number two man in the state. It is all up to the governor to give him any power.
We remember when Dave Treen was governor, he and the lieutenant governor were bitter enemies and did not speak to each other. So the latter spent four years doing very little in an official capacity.
The race should be a close one and whoever wins will have a big job on his hands. Being neighbors to the big city, which plays a big part in our economic well-being, we all should have an interest in the outcome. It will help determine the future of our entire area.