Isaac has, thus far, been a more merciful storm. Only one sparsely-populated area, Plaquemines Parish, experienced a levee overtop and severe flooding this morning. More than 400,000 people are out of power, and severe winds continue to batter the state and the slow-moving rain could still cause more widespread flooding.
But federal government preparedness indicates that, should more quick emergency response be needed, it will be handled differently than the bureaucratic boondoggle of Katrina. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which failed so poorly seven years ago, has been fully activated to prepare for the storm:
Search-and-rescue teams — including 48 boat teams deployed to areas prone to flooding and in direct path of the storm — have been mobilized, and Louisiana officials have asked teams from Texas and six other states to be on standby. Power crews, linemen and tree-trimmers are ready to restore power as quickly as possible if there are outages. Damage assessments, including aerial surveillance, could begin as early as Friday, [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal said.
Louisiana has mobilized 40 “pods” in the southern part of the state and 20 in northern Louisiana — each designed to feed 5,000 people, Jindal said. [...]
Obama issued an emergency declaration for areas of Mississippi under threat of rain and high winds. The declaration frees up federal resources to help state and local agencies dealing with the storm and its aftermath and makes federal support available to save lives, protect public health and safety and preserve property in coastal areas.
While the storm is raging, politicians tend to push aside political differences, but it’s important to note that, if Republicans had their way, such disaster funding might not be available; their budget would slash millions of dollars from emergency preparedness funding, particularly FEMA.