Thursday, September 08, 2005

Katrina: The Disaster that was Foreseen

9/8 Update: it took jordon to let me know that my own employer also published a piece on this in 2000. He also mentions a Times piece that same year. See below.

Five forecasts:

1 - From a June 2002 special report in the Times-Picayune is a chillingly accurate description of the events that have taken place in New Orleans over the past week.

Part One deals with the destruction of the marshes that protect New Orleans and the eventuality of the levee breaches we have just seen as well as some graphic models of the damage that past near-misses might have caused.

Part Two acknowledges that the "Big One" will eventually hit the city and that evacuation will not work as intended, leaving hundreds of thousands of people trapped under water in the city needing to be rescued from attics and roofs.

Part Three talks about the lack of flood insurance in the city, the poor construction methods used, and the reality that rebuilding will take many years.

Part Four describes the enormous risk to people from the "Big One" due to increasing population centers in harm's way and the double-edged sword that is the Army Corps of Engineers, who have both saved the city and ensured its eventual destruction.

Part Five is about the high cost of survival and the reality that many of the solutions that could help New Orleans are too expensive to implement.

So, there you have it - a nearly complete description of what has just happened in SE Louisiana, and it was written three years ago.

Steven Nicholson summarizes a five part June 2002 New Orleans Time-Picayune series that laid out what was going to happen.

2 - A 2004 National Geographic piece that writes in a similar vein.

3 - And so did a 2001 Scientific American piece. (from Wiki's Katrina article)

4 - So did USA TODAY in 2000.

5 - and Time Magazine that same year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve...

What's with this identiy thing here...

I think a HUGE issue was the fact that a hurricane IS predictable. This is perspective I've not heard. I live in Los Angeles and the earthquake of ’94 was NOT predictable, like a thief in the night. 9-11 was NOT predictable. This non-predictable disaster allows those to respond with vigor.

The predictable disaster allows people to make decisions and to procrastinate and ponder ineffectively, “…is this really going to be bad or not…last two weren’t that bad…I'm tough…we’ll be OK.”

Allowing a community of leaders to plan for a disaster by cognitively writing reports or stories is water off a duck’s back…we are HORRIBLE at planning as a culture, seeking immediate satisfaction over that requiring discipline over a period of time. This is the credit card mentality to governing—spend now, pay later…the credit card gives me the false illusion of control rather than pulling out actual dollar bills.