Mayor Ray Nagin (D-New Orleans) is indirectly responsible for over 1,000 deaths.
In 2005, as the category-5 Hurricane Katrina approached his city—much of which was located on land below sea level—he failed to order a mandatory evacuation until less than 18 hours before the hurricane made landfall. He failed to mobilize established evacuation plans, failed to provide buses and other governmental means to evacuate those who couldn’t leave on their own, and ordered those who had stayed behind to gather at a ‘shelter of last resort’ in the Louisiana Superdome without having provided sufficient food, water, and sanitation for the people who came. In the aftermath, his government went missing in action, leaving the entire relief effort to state and federal authorities that were designed to operate at the behest of the local government, not in its absence.
And, incredibly, the people of New Orleans re-elected him in 2006. Personally, I’d have preferred to charge him with a thousand counts of involuntary manslaughter and dereliction of duty.
Thankfully though, it looks like Nagin might have learned his costly lesson. As Hurricane Gustav bears down on the New Orleans area, potentially destined to repeat Katrina’s 2005 devestation, Nagin has ordered an evacuation of his city more than 36 hours before the expected landfall. Obviously, I hope that New Orleans doesn’t get slammed again after they’ve spent three years rebuilding, but at least if the city gets hit anybody who dies will have died because they chose not to leave, not because their city government failed them.