News

Thad Allen on Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later

| August 24, 2015

A Security Mom Podcast

We all remember where we were when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August of 2005.

I was eight months pregnant with my third child, and that late in my third pregnancy, there wasn't too much exciting about it — so I watched a lot of TV.

When Katrina touched down, I watched the horrifying images of New Orleans and the Gulf states and I was mad and frustrated by the government's inability to help people, to save people.

I remember one news station had a hovering helicopter and they focused in on a man and a woman. They were about waist deep in very disgusting water; she was carrying a child above her shoulders, and he was carrying, above his head, a big box of what were clearly diapers. The news person kept saying, "We have a problem with public safety, there's all this looting going on." And I was looking at this family, and I thought, "That's not looting. That's survival."

Also standing by watching in frustration was Thad Allen, then the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Coast Guard. As the week went on, Allen was sent to New Orleans to try to fix the botched recovery efforts of the national government. By September 9, 2005, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff had asked Allen to take over the reins from then-FEMA head Michael Brown.

This week I sat down with Allen to hear about his experience in New Orleans, 10 years after the tragic incidents of Hurricane Katrina.

For more information on this publication: Please contact International Security
For Academic Citation: Kayyem, Juliette and Thad Allen. “Thad Allen on Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later.” News, , August 24, 2015.

The Authors

Juliette Kayyem