September 07, 2012
Wednesday was a 24-hour day like all the others, but it seemed much, much longer for south Louisiana residents weathering Hurricane Isaac. We’re as glad as everyone else that Isaac has left the area, and we’re relieved that the storm was not nearly as bad as it could have been.
Isaac, downgraded to a tropical storm as it pummeled the Baton Rouge area, did not pack sustained winds as powerful as Hurricane Gustav in 2008, but it was a slow-moving system, and its sluggishness challenged the nerves of area residents.
We’re grateful that, at this writing, the damage toll from Isaac doesn’t seem to be matching Gustav’s devastation. This is cold comfort, we know, for those south Louisiana residents who suffered serious property damage from Isaac’s winds and storm-related flooding.
We also know that many of Isaac’s effects on the state are still playing out, with some flooding problems, for example, continuing to materialize. Our thoughts and prayers are with those residents now facing misery in the storm’s aftermath.
Isaac’s Aug. 29 arrival in Louisiana invited comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, which came ashore in Louisiana on Aug. 28, 2005. We’re relieved that Isaac didn’t reprise the disaster that left most of New Orleans underwater and much of south Louisiana in tatters. The Crescent City’s ability to avoid the levee breaches that brought so much flooding after Katrina should help build confidence in New Orleans’ aggressively strengthened levee system. We’re sorry that something like Katrina had to unfold before the levees were strengthened, but we’re heartened that state, local and federal officials learned something from Katrina’s destruction.
Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav seemed to have created a useful sense of vigilance among state, local and federal officials concerning emergency planning. That sense of urgency seemed evident as emergency response personnel at all levels of government prepared for Isaac.
We’ve heard a number of observers suggest that Isaac’s potential was overblown as it approached Louisiana. But we’d much prefer that officials and residents prepare for worst-case scenarios, then be pleasantly surprised if the worst doesn’t happen. We hope that the lessons of Katrina continue to inform emergency preparedness efforts across the state.
In the meantime, we urge residents to be patient as clean-up and power restoration efforts get under way.