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Disasters and desperation

September 06, 2007

Re "It was America, unhinged," Column One, Sept. 1

Large sections of New Orleans remain abandoned post-Hurricane Katrina in spite of the federal government's commitment to spend $110 billion in aid. Perhaps rebuilding on a flood plain before levy repairs have been completed is not a good idea. Perhaps where the government was really at fault was not requiring property owners to carry flood-protection insurance in the flood plain. Alas, reporter Ann Simmons writes, "My perception of the United States as a democracy that takes care of its own was shattered."

Poor planning, mismanagement and corruption were the government standards for New Orleans pre-Katrina. The real lesson is that, in the face of a clear and present danger, the government needs to enact policies to prevent easily foreseeable disasters.

Joseph Devoy

Long Beach

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Anyone who thinks this has not happened before should read John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." It does not take much to draw striking parallels between the two situations. It is not only about the failure of government and authorities to respond to a desperate situation, but the outright oppression of a people faced with desperate circumstances; and, on the opposite note, those individuals who demonstrated their amazing sense of humanity and help under dire circumstances.

It's happened before. It will happen again. And it could be anywhere at any time. No one is immune.

Patricia Buckley

Trabuco Canyon

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Jonah Goldberg's column on Hurricane Katrina's press disaster (Opinion, Sept. 4) was more of the same when he stated that this was the worst natural disaster to hit the U.S. He overlooked the 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas, and killed at least 8,000 people.

Bill Parson

Ventura

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