One might think that after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Ray Nagin would know just about all there is to know about how to prepare for a hurricane. Trial by fire, as they say. However, it seems as if Mayor Nagin believes he can learn something from Cuba.
Marco Rubio has a response at NRO's The Corner:
"In Cuba, it doesn’t take a hurricane to cause power outages; government rationing of electricity has been doing that for some time. The destruction of the agricultural economy didn't begin when storms destroyed crops; it began when the regime took control of the means of production. The country's infrastructure didn’t start crumbling because of hurricane-strength winds; it’s been deteriorating for decades, along with many aspects of Cuban life, because of a regime obsessed with using its limited resources to maintain power, deprive its people of fundamental liberties and close itself off from the free world.
But perhaps the worst part about the regime’s hurricane-mitigation program is its routine, cruel, and inhumane rejection of American aid."Port of New Orleans president and CEO Larry LeGrange is all for the Nagin trip, however, and says that Nagin is exploring future trade opportunities with Cuba. He says when the trade embargo with Cuba is ended, Nagin's efforts can only help New Orleans.
Some NOLA residents are getting a little testy over Nagin's little jaunts, however. Earlier this summer, Nagin, his wife, and other city officials went to Shanghai and to Sydney which cost the taxpayers over $28,000. Nagin had promised a "sponsor" for that trip that never materialized. Part of the problem there is the possibility that someone with business ties to the city was footing the bill, which of course, would be unethical.
Nagin is not the first mayor to travel to Cuba for disaster preparedness; the mayor of Galveston, TX traveled to Cuba earlier this year.
Not everyone is impressed with Cuba's hurricane preparedness skills. Besides Rubio, another dissenting voice is George Fowler, a Cuban-American who is also the Vice President of the Cuban American National Foundation.
Fowler said, "we have very little to learn from Castro. It is a country that is embargoed by our own policies because it's been run by a dictator for 50 years. It is also one of four countries that our state department has declared to be a state sponsor of terrorism." While various news articles tout Cuba's success in hurricane preparedness, Fowler said it's communist propaganda, and he doesn't buy the delegation's explanation that New Orleans can learn valuable lessons in disaster readiness from Cuba.
At any rate, Nagin and company are in Cuba. At the very least, maybe Nagin can learn that when a hurricane hits your city, you don't barricade yourself in a luxury hotel "awaiting the federal cavalry." When he came out, he declared that New Orleans would once again be a "chocolate city."
Yes, maybe the Cuba trip isn't such a bad idea, after all!