In Hurricane Harvey response are lessons from Katrina

Local and federal officials and rescuers say they have learned from mistakes made during Hurricane Katrina's devastating impact on New Orleans 12 years ago.
5:31 | 08/30/17

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Transcript for In Hurricane Harvey response are lessons from Katrina
You know, it's been 12 years since hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans. A disaster that critics believe was aggravated by a poor response from the federal government. Now on the anniversary of that storm Harvey is poised to hit the city. Tonight the lingering question, are officials up to the challenge? Day 4 and the flood waters of hurricane Harvey still rising relentlessly across southeast Texas tonight. First responders and everyday neighbors struggling through rescue after harrowing rescue. There they are. There they are. Coming to get you. Reporter: Levees breached in Houston. The devastation described as worst than the worst case scenario. Which is why air force one touched down today 220 miles south of Houston, in relatively unscathed Corpus Christi. President trump accompanied by the first lady wanting to be on the ground in Texas as soon as possible, assessing the first major natural disaster of his presidency. First stop, a local firehouse. This was of epic proportion. Nobody's ever seen anything like this. It's a real team. And we want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years, in ten years from now as this is the way to do it. Reporter: After the meeting the president greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters, not unlike a campaign rally. I want to thank you for coming out. We're going to get you back and operating immediately. Thank you, everybody. What a crowd. What a turnout. Reporter: And with the Texas flag in hand the president leaving the crowd with a hopeful tone. His next and final stop, Austin, where he toured the state's emergency operations center. The president of the united States. Mr. President. Reporter: Just days before he had assured that Texas would "Be up and running very quickly." But during his visit today a slightly different forecast. The sad thing is that this is long term. Nobody's ever seen anything this long and nobody's ever seen this much water. Reporter: At no point did the president directly address victims. But the white house saying tonight that he will return this Saturday. As brief as it was, president trump's visit a sharp contrast to a previous president. When George Bush 43 detoured over New Orleans on his way back from vacation from his ranch in Texas in this now iconic photo. But he didn't land. It was called a metaphor for an out of touch administration slow to act in the face of disaster. We want help! All the people you see are dying. Reporter: Today marks 12 years to the day since hurricane Katrina slammed into new Orleans. The images from Katrina now burned into our collective memory. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to new Orleans. Reporter: Thousands making their way to the Superdome, which had been turned into a makeshift shelter. This is not a shelter. This is a hellhole. Reporter: People in deplorable conditions waiting for days to be evacuated. I've been on my feet now for about 48 hours straight. They fed us a little bit, but still it's not enough. It's no coordination right now. You look at what we see. It's total chaos right now. Reporter: Katrina's devastating impact on below sea level New Orleans was compounded when the levees broke, representing a catastrophic engineering failure. Then head of FEMA Michael Brown became a national punching bag for the failure to anticipate the extent of the disaster. You knew it was going to be a force 5 storm that was going to hit in that region. Why didn't you? When the levees did break, we were already moving in and then had to move back out. And as we began to do the evacuations from the Superdome, all of a sudden literally thousands of other people started showing up at other places. And we were not prepared for that. Reporter: Words that would prove prophetic 12 years later for Houston's own hurricane. Though the levees here have been breached, they have not broken. Thousands of successful rooftop rescues have taken place in Texas. Lessons perhaps learned from Katrina and other hurricanes already having an impact. One of the most important changes that has happened from Katrina to today has been an important change in the skill, competence, and expertise within the federal agencies. Reporter: This time around FEMA and a variety of search and rescue operations in Houston seemingly better prepared. Here at the Houston convention center 9,000 people crowded in with just 5,000 beds to share. Some sleeping on the floor. But there is ample clothing, food, water, and heavy security. This is not the Superdome. All eyes are on Houston, and so are mine. Reporter: In the end Katrina cost $100 billion in damage and took the lives of nearly 2,000 people. Hungry. Reporter: Kate brd is a Katrina survivor. She was just 16 when her home in New Orleans was destroyed by the hurricane. And I came home to an empty . It was one of the hardest things I've ever seen. Reporter: She and her husband moved to Dickinson, Texas last year. But as fate would have it, as Harvey approached she was forced to evacuate again. Today on the 12th anniversary of Katrina she is back in new Orleans, now six months pregnant. But she may find herself in harm's way yet again. I came to New Orleans, and now we're under a flood watch over here right now. Reporter: Back in Texas rescue missions continue. In Houston this evening for the first time no rain. But folks there bracing for the worst, unsure of what might lie below the flood waters.

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