- Central point of communications publicized in advance. After the event is too late to set up "I'm OK" lists and other disaster-relief communications. Both victims and their families need to know in advance of the storm where to find information on their whereabouts and conditions. Waiting until after the event risks confusion, since both imposter sites and well-meaning duplicate sites can cause confusion and unnecessary worry.
- Authorities should only appear before the media when ready to say something. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco was all over the national news in the week after Hurricane Katrina, from CNN to Nightline to the Today Show, but her appearances almost always involved her becoming emotional (breaking down at early press conferences or boiling over with anger and looters later on) and almost never relayed any useful information. Rather than projecting an air of strength and authority, she projected an image of disarray and confusion.
- Just pick up the phone. Every protocol should have its purpose -- for instance, it's a very wise stroke of federalism that a governor must request an emergency declaration before the national government can move in to respond; Federal agencies shouldn't just move in willy-nilly and interfere with the elected government at the site of a disaster. But there is no excuse -- none -- for not simply picking up a telephone when it might save lives or spare people from suffering. Most of the excuses floated in the inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina centered on issues that could have been solved had officials in one agency simply placed a telephone call to officials in another (between FEMA and the Lousiana governor's office, for instance) in order to ensure the proper protocols had been executed.
- Evacuation routes cleared and available in advance. Traffic tie-ups in the much-too-limited evacuation routes from New Orleans jeopardized too many lives.
- Evacuation sites outside harm's way. The Superdome was opened much too late for evacuees, and it was too close to the event itself. When the rest of the city lost water and power, so did the Superdome, needlessly subjecting the refugees to Third World conditions.
- Mandatory evacuation means mandatory evacuation. People who stay behind should be subject to immediate arrest. The looting and lawlessness in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina were direct results of a quarter of the city's population refusing to obey the mandatory evacuation order. All of the deaths were a direct result of the disobedience, as well.
- Mass-evacuation plans in place well in advance of an event. If many of the 20% of New Orleans' population who stayed behind did so because they couldn't afford to escape, there was a clear failure to anticipate the city's needs. Sufficient plans must be made for evacuations on the scale of 100,000 or more people who may not be able to leave on their own.
- Clear and robust chain of command. New Orleans police blamed much of the post-hurricane disorder on inept or incomplete command from above.