Sunday, November 20, 2005

A classy decision

A Republican congressman clearly wanted Gov. Bob Riley to score some partisan points during last week's meeting of the House committee investigating Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, according to The Birmingham News, but Riley declined to slam Louisiana's Democratic governor, Kathleen Blanco.

"Given the amount of devastation we had ... compared to Mississippi and Louisiana, that's not a fair comparison," Riley said, responding to a question about why Alabama lacked the "chaos" seen in other states. "We were fortunate we didn't lose any people. If we had had the catastrophic effect they did, I'm not too sure that wouldn't have been the case."

Katrina effectively wiped out an area that was home to more than 1 million people. It was such a tremendous disaster that even had state and local officials prepared and responded perfectly, which they certainly didn't, the devastation still would have outstripped their ability -- indeed, any state's or city's ability -- to handle the recovery without swift and substantial federal help.

Kudos to Riley for recognizing that but for a few miles' difference in Katrina's trajectory, Alabama could have found itself in much the same boat as its neighbors to the west.

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