May 2, 2006 – If another Katrina-sized hurricane were to strike New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin says, he finally has a plan to save the Gulf-coast city’s residents.
The new hurricane evacuation plan Nagin announced during a midday news conference Tuesday relies most heavily on buses and trains to evacuate residents. The plan, however, excludes the use of super-sized shelters, says Nagin, who was criticized for abandoning the city’s most vulnerable residents after they’re fled to the city’s Convention Center and football stadium when lake waters in Katrina’s aftermath broke through the city’s levees.
"There will be no shelter of last resort," Nagin said during a midday news conference. "Amtrak trains will also be used for evacuation purposes, which we're really excited about.”
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Nagin, who is in a tough run-off bid to save his job, credits federal Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff with clearing the way for the use of the passenger train service.
He also addressed one of the most critical aspects of the city’s Katrina response – failed communications systems – which by all accounts thwarted and delayed rescue and relief efforts in the hours and days immediately following Katrina.
Nagin said Tuesday that the city is in the process of beefing up its communications systems to meet any new danger. He added that city administrators have also developed a number of contingencies should one or more aspect of the city’s communications network break down under the weight of a new emergency.
In another measure that addresses sensitive problems that hampered evacuation efforts, Nagin said he would allow residents to take their pets with them should another emergency evacuation be warranted – provided the pet is housed in a proper carrier.
There was no immediate response to the plan from Nagin’s mayoral opponent, Louisiana's Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu (D).