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A reader writes:

Just a minor pushback on this quote: part of the real disaster regarding Katrina and Haiti was complete human incompetence in the preparation for a known possible crises and organizing the recovery from it.  I don’t think Japan has this problem at all.  Unlike Haiti and Louisiana, the Japanese government has wisely prepared for potential earthquakes and tsumani disasters by regulating the building codes to ensure minimum damage from the frequent earthquakes in the area (Haiti) and the government in Japan is anything but ill-prepared and inefficient (Louisiana).  That is not to say the Japan earthquake and ensuing tsumani isn’t a huge humanitarian event or that it is any less horrific a disaster.  But Japan is far, far better prepared to deal with recovery than either Louisiana or Haiti. 

I lived in Louisiana during Katrina and the aftermath and I can tell you that government failed its citizens at ALL levels: local, state and federal.  Strong hurricanes hitting the gulf coast was not an unknown event.  The fact the New Orleans was a bowl and sinking since the levees were erected was not unknown and yet no one with the power to do anything about it did anything about it.  Local and state officials dithered and fiddled away while allowing positions on the levee boards to be appointed as bribes essentially allowing incredible corruption to occur.  In the aftermath of Katrina were fears of complete societal breakdown just as we later witnessed in Haiti.  Again, I don’t think this will be an issue in Japan making their recovery much smoother than here and Haiti.

Emily Rauhala provides a primer on earthquake preparedness in Japan.

(Photo: Tokyo Fire Department rescue workers arrive at Kudan Kaikan in Tokyo as local media said its ceiling fell down after a strong earthquake, injuring people inside the hall Friday, March 11, 2011. By Itsuo Inouye/AP)

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