Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin saw his city destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has witnessed its remarkable rebirth.
Speaking to a disaster management conference in Winnipeg this afternoon, Nagin discussed the lessons he and his city have learned from the disaster which cost the lives of 1,800 along the Gulf Coast, 700 in New Orleans alone.
U.S. officials didn’t heed warnings about flood risks to the Louisiana city which could have saved the government billions of dollars, Nagin said.
He urged Manitoba emergency planners, government officials and municipal politicians gathered at the Canad Inn Polo Park to prepare for potential catastrophes — and not to be shy about telling their political masters what must be done.
"It’s critical that you invest early and do not wait," he said.
Nagin wrote a book about Katrina and its effect on New Orleans and is now sought around the world as a speaker and consultant on disaster management.
He said individual citizens should have their own personal disaster plan in place.
That would include a personal evacuation plan, quick access to medical and prescription records and even plans for dealing with pets, he said.
More than 450 delegates are attending the three-day conference, which winds up on Friday.