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Your e-mails: Katrina's lessons readers share ideas for preventing future tragedies


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(CNN) -- This year's busy hurricane season has left many wondering what, if anything, can be learned to prevent future loss? posed this question to readers, who sent in their ideas by e-mail. Here is a selection of those responses, some of which have been edited:

I cannot understand why all the people just did not hop into their Range Rovers and gas up (at $3 a gallon) with their platinum cards and head to a Hilton out of town. The fiscal indifference of some who write in is indicative of a deeper social problem that this storm season has scraped away like a scab from an old enduring wound. This indifference and the overwhelming decadence of our society only sets us up for an inevitable fall.
Patrick, San Antonio, Texas

It highlights the importance of voting, and, more to the point, voting for people who understand government and its duties. Not people who either just see it as a way to employ their friends; or as a way to destroy government as they feel Wal-Mart and some churches will take care of us.
Robert Martin-Hill II, New York, New York

The lesson is that you should be prepared. I lived in South Georgia for a while and know that when it gets close to hurricane season, the TV, radio, newspapers, utility bills, etc., repeat ad nauseam what should be done to prepare for hurricanes and tornadoes. There is no excuse for anyone to be without a "preparedness kit" of some sort. I agree that, sadly, too many of us simply plan to be victims and nothing more.
Deborah McGinnis, Knoxville, Tennessee

I am amazed that the citizens seemed to expect the government to take on the role of parent. We are all responsible for our own preparedness. It is not up to others to hold our hand and do what is simple common sense. It is also not the government's responsibility to rush in and rescue us afterward. Most seemed to expect "instant" results. I saw very little patience from the ordinary citizens in the aftermath of any of the hurricanes. The majority portrayed an "I want it, I expect it, give it to me NOW" attitude. Disgusting.
Cindy, Nashville, Tennessee

The thing most missing immediately after the storm was communications. Most land line phones were out and cell phones were jammed when the towers eventually returned to service. The situation was made ten times worse by the Red Cross, who advertised an 800 number to call to receive cash payments. Literally tens of thousands of people all along the Gulf Coast tried calling their number for hour after hour, day after day and very few ever got through. The net result was that the phone system was completely tied up and it lasted for about six weeks. No one from outside the local area could call in to check on loved ones because tens of thousands of people were unsuccessfully trying to contact the Red Cross.
Don, Biloxi, Mississippi

Not only for hurricanes but any regional disaster, weather-created or otherwise: Be prepared. Homeland security begins at home. Have a plan and supplies to survive any event. Food, water and shelter are the basics. A wood burning stove will keep you warm when the gas and electric are shut off. Candles will provide light. Battery-operated TV and radio. Some methods of self-protection and survival must be planned. In a real emergency calling 911 doesn't work. Rely only on yourself and you will survive.
Ken Savage, Salem, Wisconsin

What lessons should other hurricane-prone areas take from Katrina and Rita? Preserve our wetlands. Reverse global warming. Reverse the 2004 national elections; Republicans can lie, leak and loot but they fail at governing.
Jake Fien-Helfman, Washington, District of Columbia

First, when you are given a warning to leave, please do so!!!!!!!!!! I understand that there will always be people in some areas that have a harder time trying to get out due to economic reasons, but where there is a will there is a way. Second, PLEASE do not (i.e.. Red Cross, FEMA.) give hundreds of dollars away with no account of where these monies are going to.
Janel, Warminster, Pennsylvania

1) Always be prepared for any disaster you know may affect your area.
2) Do not wait for the last moment to acquire the supplies needed.
3) Do not blame others (FEMA, STATE and Local agencies), but yourself.
4) Save money, save gas, save water, save canned goods and non perishable items for at least one to two months.
5) Keep important documents and IDs handy and in waterproof containment.
6) Have a list of important phone numbers that include local, state and federal aid and medical assistance.
7) Make sure your elder relatives are secure.
8) Include a health aid or safety kit in your vehicle.
9) Ration supplies.
10) Do not despair, think positive.
11) Always, have faith.
Joseph Figueroa, San Juan, Puerto Rico

I think too many people have accepted too easily the campaign to reduce our expectations of what the government can do in times of disaster. This is unfortunate because this allows those who are truly responsible to escape scrutiny. I believe that responsibility for one's own actions is very important, but it is equally important to ensure that our government accepts its responsibility too. The Katrina debacle cannot be fairly placed on the heads of the people whose lives were destroyed and Katrina stands alone in this respect. Where do we, as citizens of the richest most powerful country on earth, draw the line? Where do stop excusing the government of its responsibility in this fiasco? The solution will not be found in solely placing the blame on those who suffered. It will only be found when we hold the only entity, beyond ourselves, that has the wealth and resources of our country at hand, equally responsible. Otherwise, we become just like any other second world nation.
K. Bennett, Seattle, Washington

Supplies need to be available much sooner. Supply vehicles should be equipped with GPS to avoid getting lost en route. Emergency aid following Wilma was just as bad as for Katrina and Rita.
M. B., Clearwater, Florida

Hurricane prone areas need to place greater importance on making their communities ready for hurricanes. Structures need to be made better; the natural environment needs to be returned to a state to let it be the natural barrier that it was intended to be. And local and state governments need to be prepared, it does not fall on the shoulders of FEMA or any other federal agency to come in and be the sole provider. These places need to ready themselves, and be able to handle any disaster that may head their way.
Mike Miller, Shelbyville, Tennessee

As a licensed engineer with over forty years experience, I find the damage appalling, as I did with Andrew. One piece of the pie must be adequate building and zoning laws and proper enforcement of same. Living near or on the coast is a luxury and one that I can not afford. But those who wish to do so should also pay for conformance to building codes and zoning laws that minimize damage. If certain areas cannot be protected by these laws due the severe danger (wind, waves, etc.), then zoning should prohibit construction in this area. All of us would benefit with lower insurance costs, lower costs for disaster aide and recovery, etc.
William Freeze, East Windsor, New Jersey

I lived in Florida for many years, saw many storms go through. Only recently am I seeing people who do not take a bit of responsibility for their own safety in extremes. Officials tell people to stock food, water, medicines to last for at least three days for a reason -- it takes days to get help to a stricken area. You might have millions of people needing help and only a couple hundred rescuers. Basically, people need to stop being so darn reliant on the government for help and start ensuring their own safety. The ones I can feel for are the people who did prepare but lost it all when their homes were destroyed. But I am seeing a whole lot of people on TV, houses intact, complaining about how slow FEMA is. My questions to them are these -- why in heck did you even stay with a storm that major heading your way? And since you stayed and had little damage, where is your supply of water and food? Or did they just assume good ol' Uncle Sam would take care of them? I don't know when this started getting this far out of hand but people, wake up! It is NOT the government's fault that YOU did not prepare and stayed behind! Grow up and accept responsibility for your own health and safety!!!
Tracy Clinger, Honolulu, Hawaii

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