I would like to know how Robert Caldwell could possibly compare the San Diego fires to New Orleans in his article "Tale of Two Cities."
It's true that San Diego had New Orleans beat in preparedness, but only because we found out how unprepared we were with the 2003 Cedar fires. So our preparedness was not due to our "superior culture," but to our wake-up call just four years ago.
The only other way our situation could even come close to comparing to New Orleans would be if a massive fireball had descended from the sky and lit up the whole burned out area at once. This fire took days to advance; people had time to evacuate, and rescue teams had time to respond. New Orleans was under water in a matter of hours.
Comparing the order at Qualcomm to the disorder at the Superdome is also unfair. Most of San Diego was not affected by the fires, so we had an army of people ready to volunteer and organize the situation. Hurricane Katrina brought devastation not just to the city of New Orleans, but to the state of Louisiana as well as the neighboring states of Mississippi and Alabama.
The San Diego fires were a good example of a disaster where the chain of emergency response could be followed; local, state, then national. What happened in Louisiana was an example of a natural disaster of epic proportions, where the federal government needed to step in from day one.
I think it is an absolute outrage to completely trivialize the human disaster that happened in New Orleans and smugly pat San Diego on the back for rising to an occasion that in no way compared to Hurricane Katrina.