It took a day or two after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast to understand that it could affect our feelings about what happened at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania....Fair enough. Actually, it's pretty mild: "Katrina perfectly simulated a much larger terrorist attack than the one that hit New York." No, in fact, it didn't. (The second to the last sentence concedes the simulation was not perfect.) You see a hurricane forming, strengthening, and heading for shore for days. A terrorist attack — one that succeeds — comes out of the blue. And only parts of the country are especially vulnerable to hurricanes, with New Orleans being a unique case of vulnerability for which special precautions should have been made. So the lack of preparation exposed by Katrina is far less than the real lack of preparation.
Given the area it affected and its potential death toll, Katrina perfectly simulated a much larger terrorist attack than the one that hit New York. It was nearly nuclear in scale....
We felt that 9/11 had changed our lives in an instant, that we had been jerked out of a pleasant dream. The difference in the blow that Katrina struck was not merely that we could see it coming. It was that, as a nation, we thought we were already fully awake.
Here is a piece about what it would take to evacuate New York City after an attack:
Just imagine trying to move more than eight million New Yorkers - including the high number of people without cars - through streets that are clogged on an ordinary day and then through the tunnels and over the bridges that connect New York's islands to the mainland and to one another. "It would not be easy and it would not be pretty," said Jerome M. Hauer, the city's former emergency management director.Who has not tried to picture what would happen in Manhattan if the island suddenly became uninihabitable?
I wonder what the 9/11 editorials would have said if Katrina had not knocked our heads into a different position? I think they would have talked about Iraq. What would they have said?
(A more interesting question to me is what difference has it made — will it make — that we've turned our attention away from Iraq?)