Isaac Vs. Katrina: How Times Have Changed In New Orleans

Hurricane Isaac made landfall late Tuesday — nearly seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina began pummeling New Orleans. Cautious preparations for Isaac show just how fresh Katrina’s scars still are.

August 28, 2005 — the day before Katrina hit New Orleans.

Presidential declarations and FEMA

Katrina: On Aug. 29, the day Katrina hit New Orleans, President Bush declared emergencies in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. FEMA officials gave agents two days to provide aid to the area.

Isaac: FEMA agents have been in the Gulf area for at least a week at President Obama’s direction. He has also signed emergency declarations for Mississippi and Louisiana ahead of the storm.

Governor reactions

Katrina: A state of emergency was declared by then Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Aug. 26, one day after Katrina made landfall in Florida, three days before landing in New Orleans. The next day, Blanco ordered Contraflow, which turned inbound interstate lanes into outbound lanes.

Isaac: Gov. Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency and called for voluntary evacuation in coastal parishes and mandatory evacuation in St. Charles Parish and parts of Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish, which also issued a Tuesday curfew. (Jindal also pulled out of Tampa’s Republican National Convention because of the storm.)

Evacuations

Katrina: Evacuations were ordered for huge areas across Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered an unprecedented city-wide evacuation one day before Katrina. Those who could not evacuate were directed to the Louisiana Superdome, which was supplied with enough materials to sustain 15,000 people for three days. (More than 25,000 people would seek refuge there for two days, and Katrina would rip two holes in its roof.)

Isaac: Officials from 41 parishes have declared states of emergency and seven have called for mandatory evacuation. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has urged residents living outside the city’s levees to evacuate.

Transportation

Katrina: The New Orleans airport shut down on the day before Katrina landed, when the storm was still anticipated to be a Category 5 hurricane. (It would be Category 3 by the time it hit the city.) Several railways suspended traffic, including Amtrak, Canadian National Railway and CSX Transportation.

Isaac: New Orleans Regional Transit Authority buses and street cars have ceased operation, along with regional Amtrak lines and cargo port terminals. The airport has also closed, cancelling 290 flights.

David J. Phillip / AP

Aug. 28, 2012 — seven years later, as New Orleans anticipates Isaac.

The National Guard

Katrina: 10,000 National Guard troops were activated. In Louisiana, the guard requested 700 buses for evacuation. It received 100.

Isaac: More than 4,000 National Guard troops were activated Monday, while the Louisiana National Guard has deployed 48 boat teams.

Oil and Nuclear Power

Katrina: More than 25,000 offshore oil rig workers were evacuated before Katrina landed. The Waterford Nuclear Generating Station in Louisiana shut down operations.

Isaac: More than 75 percent of all oil production has halted, as crews were pulled from the Gulf of Mexico Monday. The Waterford Nuclear Generating Station in Louisiana has again closed.

Prisoners

Katrina: A day after the hurricane hit, officials were still figuring out what to do with thousands of prisoners.

Isaac: Prisoners in coastal regions were relocated to state facilities.

Handout / Getty Images

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s image of Hurricane Isaac moving toward the Gulf Coast on Aug. 28.

The Big Differences

- New Orleans has $14 billion worth of new levee technology to help protect the city.

- Isaac is expected to land as a Category 1 hurricane — not Category 3.

- Isaac’s path is slower and approaching from the southeast, giving people more time to prepare. (The slow speed, however, can mean a longer hurricane.)

- Hindsight is 20/20, and as New Orleans has learned, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. “In the event that it moves to a much, much stronger storm — which we don’t have any indication it’s going to but we want to prepare for the worst — then it would put us in some trouble,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Until then, we want to watch it very, very closely and tell people to be prepared.”

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