In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it\u2019s hard to forget the scenesof stranded New Orleans residents, waiting for help \u2013 in the Superdome,outside the city\u2019s convention center, on top of their island-like homes-- for what seemed like eons. Second day, no help. Third day,lawlessness ensues amid floods. Fourth day, more chaos, food and waterscarce. It\u2019s easy to understand why Mayor C. Ray Nagin was screaming on the radio for federal help that he said wasn\u2019t showing up in force.That\u2019s an immediate response. In this media-saturated age, we\u2019ve cometo expect fast action for public crises. The deadly effects of Katrina,a Category 4 hurricane that ripped through the Gulf coast, flattenedcommunities around Biloxi and Gulfport, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., andflooded New Orleans, appeared to many Americans like they werehappening in a different country. This time, though, it\u2019s the United Nations offering aid to the United States, with Australia, Japan and other nations pledging financial assistance.Louisiana authorities have warned there could be thousands of deathsfrom the storm and flood. As the toll rises, and we learn more aboutthe projected economic impact in lost energy production and resultingunemployment, there will be political leaders and managers in thehomeland security establishment who face questions about how thisresponse went and how it could have been better. This is not a new kindof exercise for either emergency response agencies or for corporatesecurity executives, who have to think about threats and practiceresponses. But in this case, there will more scrutiny than usual, inthe coming weeks and long afterward. Among the directions an inquirycould take: * Why were the New Orleans levees inadequate to prevent a flood? Six weeks before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, U.S. News and WorldReport wrote that "theU.S. Army Corps of Engineers is at least a decade away from upgrading"New Orleans\u2019 levees to sustain a category 4 or 5 hurricane. Thisstatement would be easier to dismiss if, as the article points out, thethreat to New Orleans from a flood wasn\u2019t atop the list of worries forexperts. The American Red Cross ranked such a flood threat among thenation\u2019s deadliest natural disasters-in-waiting.* Why weren\u2019t more people evacuated from New Orleans and other coastal areas before the storm?In the case of Hurricane Katrina, meteorologists had precise forecstsbroadcast to the public correctly.\u00a0 In an interview with CSO\u2019sKathleen S. Carr, Gary Woodall, warning coordination meteorologist withthe National Weather Service, said "all the hurricane warnings wereissued by hurricane experts in Miami. And their forecasts for Katrinawere phenomenal. They had their predictions in by late Friday." In following these forecasts, warnings went out from the Louisianagovernor, among other state officials, to evacuate. But especially inNew Orleans, these warnings appear to have relied on people totransport themselves out of harm\u2019s way.\u00a0 That\u2019s a problem for acity of 484,000 people where the poverty rate is about double thenational average. No wonder there were 25,000 people stuck in theSuperdome.* Why wasn\u2019t there more done, and sooner, for the people stuck in the city?The question, from New Orleans\u2019 mayor, from citizens waiting for busesto take them to Houston and other places, will redound as PresidentBush signs the $10.5 billion aid package Congress passed Sept. 2, andwe read more media reports about the death toll.\u00a0 Those are thebig issues. The smaller details are troubling, too, however.\u00a0 Why,for example, does it take The New Orleans Times-Picayne newspaper topost an online bulletin board to alertfamilies about missing persons or to post a message to say "I\u2019mokay"?\u00a0 What could be done better to communicate with people aboutwhat to expect in terms of relief?With such a loss of life, it will be interesting to see how long ittakes a special investigative commission, akin to the 9\/11 commission,to convene. When they examine what happened before and after Katrina,let\u2019s hope there are some valuable lessons that improve responses to afuture natural disaster.