FEMA head: Katrina could have been worse

Aug. 26, 2009 at 2:36 PM

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The head of the U.S. disaster relief agency says the calamity caused by Hurricane Katrina four years ago could have been even worse had the storm moved faster.

Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate told The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune Katrina was powerful when it entered the Gulf of Mexico in 2005, but while it gained additional strength in the gulf, it did not pick up much more speed.

Katrina's velocity gave the New Orleans area an extra day to evacuate, he said.

"You had close to 90 percent of the population evacuate," said Fugate, who pointed out that hurricane evacuations probably were not high on many people's minds prior to Katrina.

Fugate was head of Florida's emergency management agency at the time and noted that while there was a sigh of relief in his state when Katrina blew by, he realized others in the Gulf region were going to suffer a significant blow.

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