U.S. not ready for another Katrina-style disaster

Their confidence shaken by Katrina, most Americans don’t believe the nation is ready for another major disaster, a new AP-Ipsos poll finds.

The survey, conducted one year after the devastating hurricane and with much of New Orleans still in shambles, found diminishing faith in the government’s ability to deal with emergencies. It also gave President Bush poor marks for his handling of the storm’s aftermath.

A tropical storm expected to turn into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico this week could provide an eerily timed test of preparedness. Forecasters aren’t prepared to say whether the storm named Ernesto will hit the United States.

Fifty-seven percent in the poll said they felt at least somewhat strongly the country was ill-prepared — up from 44 percent in the days after the storm slammed ashore on Aug. 29, 2005. Just one in three Americans polled believe Bush did a good job with Katrina, down from 46 percent a year ago.

“Nobody actually realized soon enough what the scope of this thing was,” said Frank Sheppard, a 63-year-old retiree in Valrico, Fla., who considers himself strongly Republican.

One year after Katrina, large areas of New Orleans remain virtually uninhabitable. Only $117 million in at least $25 billion in federal aid has reached the city, while federal investigators determined that roughly $2 billion in taxpayer money was wasted in no-bid contracts and disaster aid to people who did not need the help.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press