WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has called for a new commitment by the United States to improve emergency preparedness.
With the anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina coming next week, Landrieu, whose state was one of the most severely damaged in the storm, delivered the Democrats' Saturday radio address. Some 1,800 people died and Katrina caused more than $80 billion in damage.
The region is far from recovered and Landrieu charged the country is no better prepared for "major disasters, whether they be hurricanes, earthquakes or terrorist attacks" than it was last August.
"For too long, nationwide infrastructure has been ignored," the senator said. "Citizens may be surprised to know that as a percentage of the (gross domestic product), the federal government today spends less than 1/10th as much on civil works as it did 70 years ago."
Landrieu said there needs to be a major reinvestment in infrastructure, including levees, flood control and evacuation routes.
"It's time for our leaders to wake up, and make a serious, new commitment to national preparedness," Landrieu said.