Where some of the key decision-makers during Hurricane Katrina are now.
NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2005, pushing a storm surge that caused the levee system to fail, flooding about 80 percent of New Orleans. Some of the key decision-makers who captured headlines during the storm, and what they’re doing now:
Kathleen Blanco: The only woman elected governor of the state was named a Louisiana Legend in May by Friends of Louisiana Public Broadcasting for, among other things, “overcoming extraordinary early resistance” and getting more than $29 billion in federal recovery money for Louisiana, and for leaving the state with a surplus of nearly $2 billion. She nursed her husband after a fall that threatened his life in 2010, and was diagnosed with cancer in her left eye a year later. She says her vision is fine now, and her prayers against cancer “have been answered.” She’s been doing public speaking and finishing a memoir. “I have truly enjoyed the experience of writing my family history as well as stories of my experience in public office,” she wrote in an email.
Ray Nagin: Mayor of New Orleans during the storm, he has been in federal prison since September 2014, serving a 10-year sentence for taking bribes from contractors who wanted city work. The judge also ordered him to pay more than $500,000 restitution. Nagin and his wife, Seletha, moved to Houston, where she filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in May 2014, the day before their home was to be sold at foreclosure. The bankruptcy petition said Nagin owed $100,000 to $500,000 to 14 creditors, including the IRS and their mortgage lender. The case was closed in August 2014.
Michael D. Brown: Head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005, and praised by President George W. Bush shortly after the storm hit with the infamous phrase: “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” as chaos spread through the ravaged region. Brown resigned amid broad criticism of his handling of the disaster. He defended himself in his 2011 book, “Deadly Indifference: The Perfect (Political) Storm: Hurricane Katrina, The Bush White House, and Beyond.” He now hosts a talk show on KHOW-FM, “Denver’s Talk Station,” which describes the show on its website as “Ex-FEMA Director Michael Brown brings the full brunt of his sense of humor and political intelligence to bear on the issues of the day.”
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Russell Honoré: As leader of Joint Task Force Katrina, he coordinated military relief across the Gulf Coast after the hurricane. The retired lieutenant general’s Web page notes that he “was widely hailed by the media as the ‘Category 5 General.’ ” He’s now a business consultant, public speaker and a senior scientist for The Gallup Organization, “working on developing questions to determine levels of preparedness.” He says he’s devoting himself to “creating a ‘Culture of Preparedness’ in America.”
Eddie Compass: Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department when Katrina hit, Compass resigned less than a month later amid severe criticism of police conduct, including a police killing of unarmed people on the Danziger Bridge and the cover-up of Henry Glover’s death after he was shot by a police officer. Both cases remain in court. Mayor Mitch Landrieu invited a federal investigation after taking office in 2010, resulting in a court-backed agreement to make wholesale changes in hiring, training, discipline, use-of-force procedures and other police procedures. Since 2007, Compass has directed security for the state’s Recovery School District, which oversees nearly 60 schools in New Orleans, a dozen in Baton Rouge and a few in Shreveport.