Let’s get one thing clear: Hurricane Isaac — or, at the moment, Tropical Storm Isaac — is not Hurricane Katrina.
Katrina was a monster, scaling the heights of the Saffir-Simpson scale to become a rare Category 5.
Katrina was also huge. At one point, she covered almost the entire Gulf of Mexico.
Worse, Katrina arrived in the middle of a relentless hurricane season — one that produced so many storms, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ran out of names for them and had to start using Greek letters.
In New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, our nerves were shot. By the end of August 2005, we felt like we were swimming in a shark tank, with paper cuts etched across our ankles. (Don’t ask me how the cuts got there, just go with the metaphor.)
In short: when Katrina hit, we were exhausted and terrified and un(der)prepared. We are none of those things now. Or if we are, we are far less so.
That’s not to say that we’re treating Isaac casually. We learned the hard way not to do that seven years ago.
Businesses and schools have closed for the next few days, and although few residents are actually evacuating — due to Isaac’s lack of power or size — most have stocked up on supplies. We have an intelligent mayor in place, as well as improved storm protections, like pumps and levee walls. And as much as I dislike Bobby Jindal, I have to admit, he’s been more clear-headed and decisive in the past 24 hours than former Governor Blanco ever was.
So, no matter how many times you say it, no matter how many parallels you try to draw, the only real similarity between Katrina and Isaac is that both will have made landfall on August 29. And given the fact that the Atlantic hurricane season peaks around September 10, is that really such a big deal?
You want a story? Focus your attention to the east, to Tampa. See if Republicans learned anything from George W. Bush’s failed tests of compassion, caring, and swift action following Katrina. See how many at the GOP convention reference Isaac (or Katrina for that matter). See how many pay lip-service to helping those in the affected areas, and how many prefer to follow the Tea Baggers’ favorite talking-point of letting people fend for themselves. And while you’re at it, see how many Democrats follow suit.
Trust me: it’ll be far more interesting than finding specious links between Katrina and Isaac, and more enlightening than picking apart soundbites from idiots on either side of the aisle.