Wildfires aren’t a sequel

“It’s the next Katrina.”

Nearly a million have been evacuated in the California wildfires. Damages are expected to exceed $1 billion. Images of destroyed homes and distraught families fill our television screens. A stadium full of volunteers attempts to comfort people in despair.

It is understandable why the wildfires are bringing such a comparison to Hurricane Katrina. Not since the New Orleans tragedy has a natural disaster caused such devastation and drawn so much media attention.

Americans are eager to see how the government reacts to this disaster after such a disappointing response to Hurricane Katrina. Many believe if the situation in California is handled better than Katrina, the government will prove that it has learned its lesson in handling domestic disasters.

Most fail to realize a proper response to the California wildfires does not mean that another Katrina could not happen.

On the surface, the disasters seem extremely similar. Upon closer look, it is obvious that Katrina and the wildfires couldn’t be more different.

The local, state and federal government will have a much easier time repairing neighborhoods in Southern California than the ravished New Orleans. Most of the damage that occurred in California did nothing to the area’s infrastructure. Officials will not have to figure out a way to rewire electricity through entire neighborhoods or completely rebuild roadways. The severe water damage that occurred during Katrina is still being repaired two years after the hurricane.

Larger fire departments and paramedic resources also made rescue efforts more practical for California than Louisiana. California’s larger population created a resource of manpower to combat the wildfires right away and allowed people to be evacuated quickly.

Rescue workers and California residents were more prepared to handle wildfires than the people of New Orleans were prepared to handle a hurricane.

Wildfires are somewhat expected in California. Many homes destroyed in the fires had evacuation alarms to alert residents to leave their homes. For the most part, California residents had advanced warning to evacuate. Not only that, but many evacuees had the money to stay in hotels or travel to stay with relatives.

Many who survived the Hurricane Katrina tragedy were unable to evacuate and were forced to live in the ruins. Bodies floated around New Orleans for days as people searched for loved ones, belongings and answers.

What we all need to remember is there will never be another Hurricane Katrina. That tragedy has its own place in American history. It would be irresponsible of us to attempt to compare the California wildfires with Hurricane Katrina. People in New Orleans are still suffering and wondering why America has such a short attention span to help those in need.

The government believes its actions in California will nullify its actions in New Orleans, and this shouldn’t be so.

The government is helping a wealthier, more stabilized state recover from a tragedy for which they were somewhat prepared. Only a few lives have been lost, and California will be rebuilt.

As the American people, we cannot forget to hold our leaders responsible for our brothers and sisters in New Orleans who still need aide.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.