Gen. Honoré: Sandy recovery is stumbling

Updated 12:09 PM EST, Thu November 15, 2012

Story highlights

Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré asks why New York has ignored all the lessons learned from Katrina

Honoré: Sandy recovery has no command center, nobody in charge and no troop presence

After Katrina, National Guard was out in force and hospital ship was available, he says

FEMA workers complain they have difficulty reaching Sandy storm victims, he says

Editor’s Note: Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré led Task Force Katrina in the aftermath of the hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. Gen. Honoré is a senior scientist with The Gallup Organization and the author of “Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family from Disasters,” and the new “Leadership in the New Normal.”

CNN —  

Superstorm Sandy inflicted havoc and heartache throughout the Northeast, hitting the Big Apple and its surrounding coastal towns hard. We have seen this kind of destruction before: I had an up-close-and personal view when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

On August 31, 2005, I was designated commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, responsible for coordinating military relief efforts for damaged areas across the Gulf Coast. My arrival in New Orleans came after what was widely believed to be a poor performance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its director Michael D. Brown. We learned a lot about what really works in our Katrina recovery efforts – but New York and New Jersey seem to be ignoring those lessons.

First, I would like to praise the search and rescue operations in New York and New Jersey. But they could be doing much better now that they’ve entered the difficult part, the recovery operation.

Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré
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Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré

Where is the command center? Who is in charge? Where is the National Guard?

During the aftermath of Katrina, National Guard troops were positioned on every block to establish a sense of safety and source of help for the people in need. They did not leave communities till people were safe and sound. This has not happened in New York or New Jersey.

Opinion: Rebuilding after Sandy is too big a risk

The National Guard has served America as both a wartime force and the first military responders in times of domestic crisis. Hundreds of times each year, the nation’s governors call upon their Guard troops to respond to fires, floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Why did New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo only call in half the New York Guard, especially when relief is still not reaching the severely affected communities?

The numbers speak for themselves.