Monday, August 28, 2006
Poll: U.S. Not Ready for Major Disaster
AP Poll: a Year After Katrina, Most Americans Say Nation Isn't Ready for Another Disaster
President Bush walks with Kim Bassier, left, 21, of Biloxi, Miss., and her sister Bronwynne Bassier, 23, in a Biloxi neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina in this Sept. 2, 2005 file photo. Bush was touring Gulf Coast communities battered by Hurricane Katrina, hoping to boost the spirits of storm victims and exhausted rescuers. When Katrina shredded the Gulf Coast, it also damaged President Bush's image as a effective, take-charge commander in chief. Ever since, the president has sought to overcome the harm done when he appeared initially remote from the misery and oversaw a halting early response. This week, Bush is returning to the region for the first time in more than three months. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
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By HOPE YEN
WASHINGTON Aug 27, 2006 (AP)— Their confidence shaken by Katrina, most Americans don't believe the nation is ready for another major disaster, a new AP-Ipsos poll finds.
Poor people are more likely to fear becoming victims of the next disaster.
The survey, conducted one year after the devastating hurricane and with much of New Orleans still in shambles, found diminishing faith in the government's ability to deal with emergencies. It also gave President Bush poor marks for his handling of the storm's aftermath.
The first hurricane of the Atlantic season could provide an eerily timed test of preparedness. Forecasters believe Ernesto could strengthen near Florida and grow into a Category 3 hurricane by Thursday.
Fifty-seven percent in the poll said they felt at least somewhat strongly the country was ill-prepared up from 44 percent in the days after the storm slammed ashore on Aug. 29, 2005. Just one in three Americans polled believe Bush did a good job with Katrina, down from 46 percent a year ago.
"Nobody actually realized soon enough what the scope of this thing was," said Frank Sheppard, a 63-year-old retiree in Valrico, Fla., who considers himself strongly Republican. "The day after, people were actually celebrating."
"They didn't realize that the levees were deteriorating and breaking at that time," he said.
One year after Katrina, large areas of New Orleans remain virtually uninhabitable with piles of debris and wrecked cars.
Only $117 million in at least $25 billion in federal aid has reached the city, while federal investigators determined that roughly $2 billion in taxpayer money was wasted in no-bid contracts and disaster aid to people who did not need the help.
Norma Guelker, 55, of Bay St. Louis, Miss., still lives in a FEMA trailer after Katrina flooded her home with seven feet of water. She says there's no way the government is ready.
Blaming Bush, she said: "There's no reason for him to be concerned about the people who live here. They're not the people who vote for him."