Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Has Big Post-Katrina Regrets

Six years after Katrina, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says he regrets not evacuating the city sooner.

By Jorge Rivas Aug 30, 2011

Six-years after Hurricane Katrina, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin says his biggest regret is that he didn’t call for a mandatory evacuation of the city sooner.

"When I called the mandatory [evacuation], we got about 95 to 96 percent of the people out of harm’s way, but it still wasn’t good enough," he said, reflecting back with disapproval in a conversation with

Nagin was one of the leading figures to receive criticism for the lack of preparedness in New Orleans when Katrina hit. He’s currently focusing on promoting a book titled "Katrina’s Secrets: Storms After the Storm," which he says will shed more light on the decisions he made in the days before and after the storm.

A 2007 video from the archives.

"I want them to understand a lot better about how politics, race and class played a negative role in this disaster and, hopefully, we can learn from it and it won’t ever happen again in American cities and in any other city around the world," he told

Nagin also spoke about policies that are preventing a lot of New Orleans’ black population from coming back.

"There were open discussions about changing the social fabric of the city and very bold discussions about gentrification. I had to make a very tough decision to say that everybody had a right to return to the city of New Orleans and there was a heavy price I paid for that," he says. I made the ‘chocolate city’ speech in response to messages out there that African-Americans weren’t welcome back to the city."

You can read Nagin’s entire interview on and for more information on the housing struggles in New Orleans read Tram Nguyen’s "They Can’t Go Home Again" available in the archives.