Deja Vu: Officials in Charge of Oil Spill Battered Before by Katrina

Katrina vs Gulf Coast oil spill

If you're getting a feeling of déjà vu watching coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you might be on to something.

Some of the officials involved in managing the oil spill were also in charge of cleaning up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The overlap isn't perfect, of course, since Katrina took place five years ago and the Obama administration has appointed new people to most of the senior positions.

At the same time, some officials in charge during Hurricane Katrina -- such as FEMA coordinator Michael Brown -- were pushed out during or after the disaster following complaints about mismanagement.

Three Fixes for Oil Spill

Oil Spill Officials Benefit From Katrina Experience

Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina who was criticized for her slow response, tells ABC that officials on the ground now have the benefit of their predecessors' experience.

"We rewrote the book on disaster response," says Blanco, who retired from office in 2008, and is now working on a memoir. Hurricane Katrina presented her with challenges that were unexpected and unpredictable, she says, and the lessons she learned have laid a "solid foundation" for those in charge now.

One big difference between the government's response then and now, says Blanco, is less political polarization and a better spirit of cooperation.

"Something that hasn't happened thus far is the blame game deluxe that so often occurs in this political climate," says Blanco, a Democrat, referring to attacks against her during Katrina on what she calls a public relations campaign by the Republican White House under President George Bush.

Keeping some of this history in mind, we've taken a look at some noteworthy figures to help you keep track of who's who in the recovery efforts, then and now.

In: Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Jindal was a newly elected congressman when Hurricane Katrina hit, and didn't register much on the popular radar, even though his district encompassed New Orleans. Now, he's front and center dealing with the oil spill. So far, he has mostly earned kudos, although there have been some criticisms that he waited too long -- nine days after the oil rig explosion -- to declare a disaster.

"It's too early to tell how he's doing because the sitaution is so fluid," says Cheron Brylski, a Louisiana political consultant. "He's been very aggressive in saying we're not getting the data we need from the corporations and that's a good thing."

In: Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen

Admiral Thad Allen, tapped to take charge of the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts after spectacular stumbles by his predecessor, FEMA coordinator Michael Brown, is widely considered a no-nonsense, take-charge kind of leader. In 2006, he was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by US News and World Report, which cited his "'bias for action,' the practice of moving, not endlessly deliberating."

Allen's leadership earned him a promotion to the head of the Coast Guard after Katrina, and he was put in charge of the federal government's response to the oil spill by presidential order.

In: Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, Senators from Louisiana

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