I've been expecting to read a prescient article like this one since Hurricane Katrina hit three weeks ago. A friend sent this piece, which appeared in the Houston Chronicle on December 1, 2001, titled "KEEPING ITS HEAD ABOVE WATER: New Orleans faces doomsday scenario," by Eric Berger.
As Hurricane Rita gathered strength today over the increasingly warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, roaring from a Category 2 to a Category 5 Hurricane in 14 hours, one might ponder what the future holds for those living near oceans.
Earlier this year the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country.Berger and FEMA weren't the only ones who gave warnings. "The New Orleans project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, Alfred Naomi, had warned for years of the need to shore up the levees, but the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress kept cutting back on the funding."
The other two? A massive earthquake in San Francisco, and, almost prophetically, a terrorist attack on New York City. The New Orleans hurricane scenario may be the deadliest of all.
In the face of an approaching storm, scientists say, the city's less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston.
Economically, the toll would be shattering.
Southern Louisiana produces one-third of the country's seafood, one-fifth of its oil and one-quarter of its natural gas. The city's tourism, lifeblood of the French Quarter, would cease to exist. The Big Easy might never recover.