Yes, there was a big sigh of relief that Hurricane Gustav did not devastate the Gulf region. And yes, communication among government agencies appeared to be greatly improved. Thankfully, Gustav wasn't close to being Katrina II, in any way.
But with the tropics heating up for the peak of hurricane season - you will be hearing the names Ike and Josephine a lot in coming days - this is no time for any agency or any resident to put their guard down. And there still have to be concerns, both nationally and in South Florida, about readiness.
The levees in New Orleans appeared to hold, preventing any chance of a Katrina repeat. But this wasn't Katrina. Strengthening and rebuilding the levees is still incomplete, three years after Katrina. If you saw scenes of water pouring over the Industrial Canal wall, you have to wonder what might have happened had there been a direct Category 4 or 5 hit.
It also makes you more concerned about Lake Okeechobee's aging Herbert Hoover Dike. The dike is reportedly one of the six in the country most at risk of failing. The timeline for repairing high-risk areas, with federal government funding, is 2017, with the entire dike scheduled to be fixed by 2025.
There have been efforts to shore up the dike, but those measures are not a substitute for a needed repair. There needs to be more of a sense of urgency to make the dike a priority. This is something both presidential candidates should be made to discuss.
Beyond that, there is the matter of personal responsibility. This time of year, when one storm leaves, another is often right behind it. Personal preparation, and keeping a close eye on storm tracks, is critical.
BOTTOM LINE: Personal preparation key.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun