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Your e-mails: Lessons from Katrina

CNN.com readers offer advice for future storms

SPECIAL REPORT

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• Gallery: Landmarks over time
• Storm & Flood: Making history
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(CNN) -- As people around the world survey the destruction of recent hurricanes, many question: What can be learned from these events? CNN.com posed this question to readers, who sent in ideas by e-mail. Here is a selection of those responses, some of which have been edited:

The lesson hurricane-prone areas should take from Katrina and Rita is that self-reliance is more dependable than government-dependence. The self-reliant made plans to survive, carried out their plans, and will be back up to speed as soon as possible. The government-dependent made plans to become victims, sat and waited for government assistance, and will have learned nothing when the next unfortunate circumstance victimizes them again. Proponents of the New Deal and The Great Society have set up generations of Americans to wallow in self-pity and Katrina is the case study of the failure of this social engineering.
Frank Johnston, Jacksonville, Florida

What everyone should take from this year's horrific hurricane season is the importance of civil duty. It starts before the storm: get prepared, get protected, and get out. Too many people dismissed Katrina and we saw the results. We all should help those who can't help themselves and the federal government should keep that in mind.
Jacob Savoie, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The lesson is the same one learned with the tsunamis -- it is critical to preserve native vegetation for a significant buffer along the shoreline. Our insurance rates and difficulty of getting coverage support the importance. All insured homeowners bear the burden of repeated destruction of waterfront homes. In Florida, insurance companies keep canceling coverage and even leave the state.
Donna Melzer, Palm City, Florida

Take it seriously early. Allow people to take their pets (they are more likely to leave and less likely to return too early) and pet relief efforts are less likely to be needed. The demand for relief is always greater than the supply. Most people are not prepared with adequate emergency funds to be without wages and salary, this problem is magnified greatly in a disaster. There will be job and employee losses, and they may be significant. The economy will suffer. Few (households, businesses, governments) had an adequate disaster preparation plan.
Holly, W. Lafayette, Indiana

A lesson to learn is that history will repeat itself. It is not a matter of if but when another major hurricane will strike. We are in a cycle that shows hurricanes will be with us for the next 2 decades so given this fact, there should be constant awareness for water front residents year round. There are many residents in south Florida that did not prepare for Wilma. They were instructed to purchase food for more than 72 hours and to make sure to their gas tanks were filled up. I strongly recommend that other hurricane-prone areas provide list of exactly what residents should have on hand and even supply already made packages ready for purchase at the beginning of hurricane season.
Britt, Gainesville, Florida

When local, state, or federal officials tell you to leave, LEAVE! When you are told to have food and water for 3 days, DO IT! Learn to rely on yourself, the government will help if and when it can, but you are responsible for your family and yourself.
Priss, Keystone Heights, Florida

The main lesson, if it is not already too late, is that local and state governments must protect themselves from private developers who have little regard for the fragile nature of many areas which they seek to develop. True, development brings in tax revenues and economic growth (not to mention financial political support), but one hurricane of moderate strength, will cost a locality far more than it had gained, especially now with such poor management and support from the national government.
Charles K. Favreau

Those areas must develop and test a comprehensive evacuation and disaster relief plan that can be initiated and function without federal assistance. The plan must include processes for the citizens that have special needs like the poor, elderly, infirm, children etc. There is no excuse for any Americans to lose their lives from a natural disaster due to poor planning at the local, state, and federal levels.
Damion, Hartford, Connecticut

People should learn to take responsibility for their own safety in the event of any disaster. Call your local officials in your town to see what should take place in an emergency. Is there an emergency evacuation plan set up? There should be. Where is it? Do a test run. Where are the shelters? Read up on Homeland Security and FEMA to see what exactly is their responsibility in the event of a disaster.
Lisa Anderson, Dallas, Texas

I was astounded at the lack of preparation by Florida residents in the face of Wilma. My 72 hour kit, including pet supplies, is stored in my car, the thing most likely to survive an earthquake. It's neither hard nor expensive. We won't have any warning for "the big one" so it's hard to have sympathy for those who have plenty of time to gather resources but instead just sit on their butt and wait for someone else to bail them out. People should learn to count on themselves and quit waiting for (and whining about) the government.
Susan, Salt Lake City, Utah

I live on the hurricane-weary Gulf Coast and at the very beginning of hurricane season I check my hurricane supply chest to see if anything is outdated or needs replacing. I begin filling water jugs with the first indication of one heading our way so the water is fresh. In the event of evacuation it's easy to take the chest on wheels with us and then we have everything we need for 72 hours with us. The key to survival in hurricane prone areas is preparation, preparation, preparation!!! There is no excuse for slacking off. We all know when one is headed our way.
Brenda O'Brien, Venice, Florida

Every city in the U.S. should have to create, update and share with their cities a plan of action for natural disasters of all sorts. This plan should also be filed with the White House so that ALL parties are on the same page. A way to implement and educate this plan is through local government. Council districts should have to share, explain and review this plan with their people at least twice a year. A task force should be implemented in all cities to educate the people on how to handle themselves in these situations as well as what can be expected from the leadership in regard to these matters. Furthermore, this same task force should also offer a service by which they make sure that all people are also properly educated on the insurance needs for their area based upon the "real" worst case scenario.
Kimberly C. Wright, Atlanta, Georgia

People who live in hurricane prone areas should learn to be self-sufficient. It is their responsibility to have at least 72 hours worth of food and water; they should fill their tubs, gas tanks and get as much cash as possible. This country was not built by people who depended on others to take care of them. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960's all of South Florida kept about a week's worth of food and water in their linen closets in case a bomb was dropped. The concept of self reliance is not new, just common sense. The government should not set expectations that they will be there any sooner than 72 hours. They actually did a great job in South Florida -- the people failed their government.
Edi Meadows, Weston, Florida

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