By MARC McDONALD
The 2006 hurricane season officially begins only 10 weeks from now. Forecasters predict it will be harsh. And despite what George W. Bush says, the U.S. is ill-prepared.
Weather data company MDA EarthSat reports that this year, the U.S. could again face storms as strong as Hurricane Katrina, which killed over 1,400 people and destroyed most of New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast.
Granted, it's only a forecast---but recall that last year's hurricane season was more devastating than forecasters had predicted. Forecasters had anticipated eight to nine hurricanes in 2005. In reality, the U.S. was slammed by 13 hurricanes, the most ever.
In addition, 2005 saw an unprecedented three hurricanes reach Category 5 status. It was almost as if Mother Nature was saying "Screw You!" to those Republicans who doubt the existence of global warming.
If we're indeed facing a repeat of the devastating 2005 hurricane season, this is grim news for Americans. After all, victims of Katrina's devastation are still digging out of the rubble. Over 1,300 people are still missing.
And, with less than three months before the start of the 2006 hurricane season, New Orleans' levees still have not been rebuilt to withstand a hurricane of even less strength than Katrina. Indeed, two teams of independent experts recently reported that large rebuilt sections of the levees will be substantially weaker than before Katrina hit.
Anyone looking for answers about why the U.S. remains ill-prepared for the upcoming hurricane season needs to look no further than the Bush White House's recent report on Katrina. The 228-page report, released in February, was nothing more than a transparent cover-up that held no government officials accountable and proposed no sanctions of any kind.
Anyone who has followed the tragic incompetence of the Bush White House for the past five years can't be feeling confident as we head into another hurricane season. Bush's staggering incompetence as Katrina roared toward the U.S. was demonstrated in the recent release of video footage that showed desperate disaster officials warning Bush that the storm could breach levees and put lives at risk. As the tapes show, Bush didn't ask a single question and then lied as he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
I get the feeling that things won't be much different this summer, as Bush retreats to his Crawford ranch for his annual five-week vacation. If history has taught us anything, it's that Bush doesn't learn from his mistakes---and time and time again, it's the American people who suffer the consequences.