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Articles by Jamiles Lartey

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Russel Honoré, left, led federal troops to rescue thousands stranded after Hurricane Katrina.

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Retired Lieutenant General Russel Honoré knows a stupid plan when he sees one. It was the day after Hurricane Katrina had wrought catastrophic flooding in the city of New Orleans in August 2005, and Honoré — a veteran of Desert Storm in the first Gulf War — had just been appointed the commander of a joint task force to lead the recovery.

The heat was sweltering. There were some 16,000 residents stranded at the city’s Superdome football stadium, and Honoré’s orders were to get them evacuated as soon as possible. The building had been compromised by the storm. It was overcrowded and supplies were spotty.

As Honoré tells it, the national guard wanted to use trucks to evacuate through the chest-high water that now surrounded most of the building, to a location where survivors could board buses. There was a problem though: They only had a handful of vehicles.

Honoré saw a simple solution: “Let’s walk the healthy adults out, and they can carry the children if they want. But all we got to do is walk a block.”

The police meanwhile, told... Read more