After Katrina: Is I.T. Ready for Another Killer Storm?

The people who suffered through Hurricane Katrina are hoping against hope that their rebuilding efforts won’t be tested by another storm in 2006.

The New Orleans region feels “like a gash, with a thin scab over it,” says David Graser, chief information officer of West Jefferson Medical Center.

His hospital, 10 miles outside New Orleans, was still shoring up backup systems and other emergency preparations last month, nearly a year after the storm hit in late August 2005. Although West Jefferson was spared flooding and other severe damage, it had to operate without electric power and with little outside assistance for more than two weeks—much longer than the two days its emergency plans had called for.

Repairs to levees and other storm protection systems in the area are still only partly complete, and neighborhoods throughout New Orleans that flooded in the storm are in an uneven state of repair and repopulation; some blocks have even been abandoned.

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