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Former New Orleans mayor’s goal tells truth about hurricane

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By DaMarkus James

 da.james@colostate-pueblo.edu

Ray Nagin, former mayor of New Orleans, talked about Hurricane Katrina, the most powerful hurricane to ever hit Louisiana and its destructive aftermath Wednesday in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom at CSU-Pueblo.

 A speaker’s agency, Keppler Speakers Bureau, offered Nagin an opportunity to speak about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, he said. However, Nagin said he also heard about a flood that destroyed Pueblo in 1921 and of a Department of Homeland Security program in Pueblo. About 70 CSU-Pueblo students and community members attended the event.

Ray Nagin explains the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Photo by DaMarkus James.

Nagin thought it was important to talk about his experiences with Hurricane Katrina, he said, but also wanted to inform the audience about preventing natural disasters from hitting Pueblo.

“I thought it’d be a good opportunity to share some lessons that we learned and hopefully you won’t have another flood in the future,” Nagin said. “What I was finding was there was so much misinformation out there.

“This is a little different because now I can come out and have some time to really reflect on what happened, and I can really give people a better perspective on what was going on right before, what happened during and how we approached our recovery.”    

Some members of the audience laughed at some of Nagin’s jokes about his daughter and pet fish, Fishy, and applauded some of the facts and data Nagin presented concerning Hurricane Katrina.

After Nagin concluded his speech and presentation, he talked formally to members from the audience. He said he thought the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina created a sense of unity among many Americans, Nagin said.

“One of the things that Katrina did is people that have either lived, loved or visited New Orleans became New Orleanians through this episode,” he said. “I think most Americans were watching this, and it just caused them to think about a relative or times they’ve been to New Orleans. There’s this really unique affinity for New Orleans.”

Nagin, who left the mayors office last year, is now a business developer and political consultant for Green Energy Management. Nagin is compassionate about energy conservation, he said, and is always trying to think of environmentally friendly ways to keep the Earth healthy.

“I think it’s the future of the country and probably the world,” Nagin said. “As I look at power costs because I’m working in the Caribbean right now, and their powering costs, their electric costs, is 350 percent higher than what we have in New Orleans.

“And it’s killing, it’s killing their economy. And if we can come with some solutions whether it be wind, solar, LED lights or a combination of all three, it’ll put them on equal footing with places around the world.”

He did not have prior experience in political science before he ran for mayor, he said. Nagin served as sixtieth mayor of New Orleans in May 2002, he said, but then stepped down after his second term.

Journalist A.J. Dome contributed to this report

aj.dome@colostate-pueblo.edu

Hurricane Katrina facts Nagin stated in his speech: 

  • 80 percent of New Orleans flooded
  • There were manual pumps for the floodwaters
  • First city-wide evacuation in city’s history
  •  $100 billion worth of damage
  • Schools and hospitals were destroyed
  • Economy plummeted
  • The infrastructure was destroyed
  • Took more than 170 town hall meetings to rebuild city
  • New Orleans has highest growing population
  • Upgraded housing above the national average
  • Gained more charter schools
  • Job wages have increased 40 percent
  • $26 billion worth of construction
  • Implemented an advanced pet evacuation