Governor: Ample warning prior to Katrina

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Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told a jury Tuesday that she did all she could to warn citizens they should move out of the way of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

Called as a prosecution witness in the negligent homicide trial of nursing home owners Sal and Mabel Mangano, the governor also said officials "were relying on individual responsibility during Katrina" to get hospital and nursing home patients taken care of, and, the approach didn't work. The Manganos are charged with 35 counts of negligent homicide. Nearly three dozen residents drowned in the facility because they were not evacuated.

Blanco testified it did not matter that the state's department of transportation and development did not implement an evacuation plan for nursing homes and hospitals. That's because "it would not have been activated without a request from the nursing home for help with transportation,'' she said under cross-examination. "You can't just send your assets out randomly.''

Blanco, who originally was to be called as a defense witness, and fought the subpoena to appear in court, admitted she was nervous on the stand Tuesday. "It was very, very simple," she said to a question about her actions before Katrina hit. "I wanted people to understand that this is potentially the biggest storm that we will ever deal with. I just urged people over and over to protect themselves and their families.'' About 1.3 million people evacuated southern Louisiana in 36 hours, she noted.

The Manganos claim the government, and its faulty policies and preparations, are to blame for the unprecedented flooding.