By William R. Freudenburg, Robert B. Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai Erikson

When homes are flattened, cities submerged, and other people stranded with no electrical energy or perhaps meals, we characteristic the ache to “natural mess ups” or “acts of God.” yet what if they’re neither? What if we, as a society, are bringing those catastrophes on ourselves?
 
That’s the provocative concept of disaster within the Making, the 1st ebook to acknowledge storm Katrina now not as a “perfect storm,” yet a tragedy of our personal making—and person who may possibly develop into regular.  
 
The authors, one an established New Orleans resident, argue that breached levees and sloppy emergency reaction are only the obvious examples of presidency failure. the real challenge is extra deeply rooted and insidious, and stretches a ways past the Gulf Coast.
 
in accordance with the fake promise of common prosperity, groups around the U.S. have embraced all manufacturers of “economic improvement” in any respect expenses. In Louisiana, that intended improvement pursuits turning wetlands into transport lanes. by way of changing a traditional buffer opposed to hurricane surges with a 75-mile lengthy, out of date canal that price thousands of thousands of greenbacks, they guided the typhoon into the guts of latest Orleans and adjoining groups. The authors exhibit why, regardless of their geographic transformations, California and Missouri are building—quite literally—toward comparable destruction.
 
Too frequently, the U.S. “growth laptop” generates wealth for a number of and distress for plenty of. Drawing classes from the costliest “natural” catastrophe in American historical past, disaster within the Making indicates why inconsiderate improvement comes at a cost we will be able to unwell afford.

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Extra resources for Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow

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Filling a jar full of Mississippi water and then setting it down and watching the suspended particles settle—which they do only slowly—can offer a small-scale illustration of the process. So long as the water keeps moving, as in a shaking jar or a rolling river, the soil particles stay suspended, but when the motion stops, they start to settle. The process is particularly notable where the flowing river waters run into a sea-level obstacle that is not about to be shoved aside. 2 The southern edge of Louisiana has long been a fluid environment, both literally and figuratively.

Gramling, Shirley B. Laska and Kai T. Erikson 45 46 * Catastrophe in the Making A map of New Orleans from 1921, showing the Carondelet, New Basin, and Industrial Canals. Note that even 200 years after the city’s founding, most development was still concentrated along the relatively high ground, close to the Mississippi River. A 1921 map is one of the few we have ever found that shows the locations of the Carondelet Canal, plus the later New Basin Canal and the much later Industrial Canal. Note from the location of the streets at that time, more than 200 years after the founding of the city, that there was still no indication that the lower and more marshy land, farther away from the Mississippi, would come to be filled in by urban development in the decades to follow.

Many of the events of that tragic week—the second, human story of Katrina—will seem painfully familiar, even years later. Much of the drama of that week, after all, unfolded on television screens across the country and around the world. As noted in the prologue of this book, however, the stage was set for that drama by a third and much earlier story—one that had started decades or even centuries earlier, almost as soon as Europeans first set foot in this vicinity. In a process that gathered speed and momentum over the course of the nineteenth and especially the twentieth centuries, human forces, almost as powerful as those of nature, profoundly altered the “near-perfect situation” that nature had provided on the banks of the Mississippi River.

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