I worked for the governor of Louisiana during Katrina. Here are 5 things I learned

I published a piece on Vox.com today about some of the lessons I learned from Hurricane Katrina while working for Gov. Kathleen Blanco. I thought I would share the link with you here: http://www.vox.com/2015/8/20/9176225/hurricane-katrina-government

-Bob Mann
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13 Responses to I worked for the governor of Louisiana during Katrina. Here are 5 things I learned

  1. Joe Delatte says:

    Thanks for this …. Nicely done … I will forward

    J D

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  2. Kathleen Blanco says:

    Bob this is the most powerful and accurate description of our experiences ever written. I know how hard it is to walk thru the nightmarish moments we shared. Thank you for writing this blisteringly honest piece.

    Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

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  3. Ashley Herad says:

    Bob,

    Thank you. I agree with the governor. It was an honor to work for her and for you and your team during that dreadful time. Thank you for the opportunity. You all made the loss more bearable and gave me hope and courage every day.

    Ashley Herad

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  4. Drew Fluke says:

    I think most of the people of Louisiana knew how hard y’all were working for the citizens affected by Katrina…but this is the first ‘insider’ look at what you folks were dealing with that I’ve seen. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into the enormity of the tasks y’all were facing…and thanks for the efforts you all made…it is much appreciated!

    Drew Fluke, Monroe

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  5. Nancy Vinci says:

    I was so glad to read your blog about the courageous efforts of Gov. Blanco all of her staff. I had great respect for the Governor then and still do. What all of you did during that disaster is remarkable and I hope someone will tell the whole story.

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  6. Spiderlily says:

    I believe that Governor Blanco would have been reelected to a second term if Katrina hadn’t hit during her first term. She made the unselfish decision to work on the disaster recovery rather than run for a second term.

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  7. Bob – an excellent retrospective, and one that communicates clearly the anguish that you and your colleagues experienced as you dealt as well as humanly possible with the tragedy.

    I’m not sure that Governor Blanco and her staff were ever recognized for the after-action project they undertook to ensure that Louisiana’s state government would be able to instantly and properly respond to future disasters. Governor Blanco and her staff, including yourself, deserve great credit for a massive undertaking to ensure that going forward, state government would be positioned for a rapid response, in a coordinated manner with staff trained and equipped for any eventuality.

    No state had ever envisioned a disaster of the magnitude of the Katrina aftermath – the largest city and population center submerged and almost the entire populace scattered to the 49 other states and several other countries. But having experienced the unthinkable, the governor initiated a massive training program in which the LA National Guard and professional military personnel trained staff from every state agency. Program-specific staff were formed into ESF (emergency support function) teams and thoroughly trained so that state government could mobilize instantly with well-trained and properly equipped personnel able to do whatever it takes to save lives before, during and after an event. The effort would be coordinated; state agency staff would be familiar with one another and ready to work together; all parties could communicate using appropriate and available equipment such as satellite phones not dependent on landlines or cell towers which may have been destroyed.

    I am not sure where that stands today, but when Governor Blanco left office, she also left a state government with the ability to confront the worst types of disaster and better ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens. It may be a little late, but “Thank you, Governor Blanco and staff for your forward-looking initiative.”

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    • Robert Mann says:

      Thanks, Jerel. Very well said. I would also add that, unlike our current governor, Blanco never gave up on Louisiana. She stayed on the job, working hard for our people, until the last minute of her term. Jindal abandoned us years ago.

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  8. jhillmurphy says:

    I lived in Portland, OR when Hurricane Katrina hit (I now live in Shreveport.) We also didn’t have cable, which, in retrospect, was a good thing since the shows were more focused on portraying x group in negative light over what was actually happening. I didn’t have a handle on the deep impact of the hurricane on people until we moved to Louisiana three years ago. Since then, I’ve met people who relocated to Shreveport, some who had lost everything and are still traumatized by what they experienced.

    Thank you for your article — for showing the chaos and all of your struggles in trying to save and resurrect New Orleans and other towns in Louisiana. Thank you for pushing on, for continuing to do whatever you can in the face of near impossibility, for doing heroic acts that you knew at the time would never be recognized.

    My heart sank at the passage about you pleading with Tom DeLay to help — to help save people, for God’s sake — and realizing later, he was going to do the opposite. For the people who were so craven that they did put politics above saving a city, I hope there are special places in hell for them. (I don’t even believe in hell.) I know taking political advantage of a crisis is replete through our history, but cable TV and the Internet — and now social media — have given worldwide audiences to those displays. When Hurricane Katrina happened, even all the way in Portland, I felt a fury over Bush’s flippant reaction to it, his administration’s incompetence that I hadn’t felt before — not even the anger I felt when I knew (from the very beginning) that the Iraq invasion was based on lies and was only because Bush and his friends felt like invading, not when the numbers of deaths and injuries there were mounting, and not when the Iraq was descending into civil war. The passage about DeLay brought that fury back.

    Thank you, Governor Blanco for all you did. Thank you to your staff for all they did. Thank you, Mr. Mann for writing such a powerful article.

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