Monday, September 19, 2005

On second thought...

If there is one thing that we have learned about New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin since the Katrina disaster it is that his mouth often operates independently of his brain. Today he has called off his plans for an early re-opening of portions of New Orleans -- and asked those who have returned to evacuate again:

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced Monday that because of the specter of Tropical Storm Rita, he was suspending all re-entry into the city.

He encouraged everyone in the area to evacuate.

"Our levee systems are still in a very weak condition," Nagin said during an afternoon press conference. "Any type of storm that hits us will put ... us into harm's way."

Rita, which is lurking just off the coast of Florida, is expected to become a hurricane by the time it swirls through the Gulf of Mexico, though forecasters don't expect it to strike the Gulf Coast region that Hurricane Katrina devastated.

Nagin said the city's pumping facilities also weren't working at full capacity -- and that if there was anything above a three-foot storm surge, there would be significant flooding.

Nagin's decision was an about-face from earlier in the day, when he'd begun to allow people back into the region, and was made under increasing pressure from the federal government to scale back his plan to re-open parts of the city this week and beyond.

I really can't criticize Nagin's actions here because this was clearly the right thing to do. However, he could avoid these embarrassing episodes in the future if he would do a little less talking and a little more listening.