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Your e-mails: Learning from tragedy

CNN.com readers on how to plan for future disasters

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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? CNN.com 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:

People need to take more responsibility for themselves and their families. Be prepared and don't depend on an enormous, slow-moving government to save you. I have family that lost their homes in New Orleans. I have a relative who lost his home in [Hurricane] Betsy and rebuilt on the same spot, and plans to do the same again. Do not build your home where it can be engulfed by 20-foot flood waters. St. Bernard Parish is no more than a flood plain and should be returned to nature. The wetlands of Louisiana need to be restored to serve as a hurricane buffer and to allow rising waters to more easily disperse.
Misha, Houston, Texas

I find it disheartening that people in this e-mail post don't seem to have any feelings for the dead and suffering people of New Orleans. The prevailing theme seems to be one of chastising the victims for not stocking up at Costco. Are people so wrapped up in their own 401K world that they can't even fathom what it's like to be really poor? Imagine not owning a computer or a car and having to work 60 hours a week at some crap job just too barely make the rent for you and your kids. You can't AFFORD to evacuate, you won't be able to pay rent if you miss any work. It sickens me. The whole thing makes me feel that same sort of extreme sadness that I felt after 9/11, only with an angry regret that it all could have been avoided with competent leadership.
Julie, San Diego, California

The No. 1 lesson learned should be that when there is a mandatory evacuation in place, you need to get out!! I would think that maybe this might serve as a wake up call to the government. If you're going to make it mandatory that people leave, then you need to send in whatever reinforcements are needed to enforce the evacuation. Why send in the National Guard to go door-to-door and search for bodies when you could send them in to go door-to-door and enforce the evacuation? I know many people didn't want to leave because they were trying to protect against looters, yet many of them became looters themselves.
Shannon Davis, Cincinnati, Ohio

After watching all the witch hunts since Katrina and Rita, It seems the Republicans screw up and the Democrats point fingers but offer no solutions. I think the U.S. government is in its worst state in living memory. Also it is time for new blood on the hill. Most of the have been there too long and have produced nothing. Time for accountability in government.
Rick Bostrom, New York

The fallout from the recent experience has not yet been realized. There is still a division between public expectations and local, state and federal ability and funding for addressing the damage. The economic consequences are more serious than currently envisioned.
James Clark, Tallahassee, Florida

First Betsy, now Katrina. It won't ever get any better. Just knock it all down and haul it away. Move the people to other cities that never get hit by Hurricanes. Cities like Bozeman, Montana, or Kansas City, Kansas. People are dumb.
David Bell, Tallahassee, Florida

We can not assume that hurricanes like Rita and Katrina are isolated occurrences. We need to address major infrastructure issues such as the levees and evacuation routes. The cost is well worth the lives and property that will be spared the next time a hurricane hits. We can't let budget concerns dictate who survives the next disaster. Rich or poor, everyone deserves to know that the place they live in is safe and that they won't be left to rot simply because they can't afford to buy a house on the high side of town.
Sara Jones, Fairfield, Connecticut

I live on the Gulf Coast and the lesson all should see is that our failed liberal welfare state has allowed U.S. citizens and non-citizens to be dependent on the government. We must elect politicians who will make people work for food, shelter, and etc. When a natural crisis occurs they will know how to take care of themselves. If they want a free meal or shoot guns during a crisis draft them into the military and work in Iraq.
Randy G. Jones, Brazoria, Texas

The greatest lesson learned from Katrina is that the Bush administration is not equipped to help hurricane-prone areas. The poorer the area, the less likely they are to receive help. The administration's war on science and education ensures that warnings on global warming and climate change will go unheeded. So prepare for weather conditions to get worse over the next few years. All aid for disaster relief has been diverted to Iraq, so do not plan on receiving any help in the 2006 hurricane season as it has already dried up. Move inland if you can. Do not vote Republican in the 2006 and 2008 election. That's the best advice I can give.
Stephanie, Denver, Colorado

Preparation is the key to survival. We know many days in advance, therefore there is no reason not to have enough supplies for 3-4 days if not longer. We have purchased a generator, and that made a world of difference after the storm when we were without power for several days. We put important papers and valuables in a lock box that could be taken with us, as well as extra cash. The cars were filled with gas, as well as several small gas cans for the generator.
Fran Streets, Fort Myers, Florida

First of all, the lesson that we should take is that FEMA was not prepared for Katrina. Federal agencies have an obligation to the public to serve and protect. I feel as though the response to Katrina clearly shows the lack of a strategic plan to handle a catastrophic disaster. The lack of response also illustrates the need for homeland security to develop new ideals and solutions.
Milton G., Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Local governments not only need an evacuation plan, but they need a post-disaster plan. New Orleans has a good contra-flow system in place to get everyone out of the city before a storm, but they have no idea what to do after a storm hits. Neighboring cities should work together to support each other and provide shelter and other essential aid to evacuees. Emergency and military personnel from surrounding areas should be lined up to rush back into the affected area as soon as it's safe for them to do so. Equipment and supplies should be stock-piled in a secure location and ready to be used. This all needs to be planned in advance so no one is caught off guard and residents can return home to start cleaning and rebuilding. The government tells us to have an emergency kit ready and they need to do the same.
Adam, New Orleans, Louisiana

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