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Locals give their opinions on anniversary of deadly hurricane

Some local residents say the federal government has learned few, in any lessons, from one of the deadliest hurricanes on record that hit the United States a year ago today.

Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast Aug. 29, 2005, and killed more than 1,800 people. The whereabouts of more than 700 are not known. There was an estimated $82 billion in damage to the area.

The devastating hurricane may have opened some legislators’ eyes to the need for increased coastal protection, quicker disaster response times and more funding for those struck by natural disasters, but there is still a perception among some people that more needs to be done.

“The same thing could happen again,” said Ruth Dodson. “I think we are still not really ready for it (another major hurricane).”

Dodson said there are still people in the Gulf Coast area struggling to get their lives back to normal because there was not enough done to help them in the early days after the hurricane. There could have also been more done to prepare the people for the hurricane’s arrival when it was initially predicted by meteorologists, she said.

“They were so slow helping people. The people really didn’t get what they needed. They could have done more than what they did,” Dodson said.

“I feel sorry for those people,” said Dodson’s friend, Ruth Lynd. “There hasn’t been enough done.”

More than two-thirds of Americans disagree with the way the federal government handled the disaster, according to a recent CNN poll.

“I would hope that we would be more prepared if something like this happened again,” Joe Holtzapfel said. “With things the way they were, I don’t think we would mess things up like that again. I would hope we would learn the errors of our ways.”

Dean Southworth said he would still be leery of living in a hurricane-prone area.

“I still think we need to be better prepared,” said “There is a lot that they (government) would need to do to make things better. How much can you do in one year?”

Sally Jones agreed.

“We’ve been watching them on the TV all morning (Monday) and the people say they are still afraid to go back. The people are still worried,” Jones said.

Jonda Kennedy said Katrina was a horrible disaster, but she thinks officials are somewhat more prepared to deal with such emergencies in the future. Although they had to learn the hard way, she hopes conditions will be better if another severe hurricane hits the country.

She disagreed with the amount of funding that has been funneled into the war in Iraq, but has not been made available to Katrina victims and other Americans in need. Southworth echoed those sentiments.