Pre-Katrina media reports…

The ”New Orleans Times-Picayune” published an award-winning five-part series called ‘‘Washing Away” that covered various scenarios (including a Category 5 hurricane hitting the city from the south) and explored the various environmental changes that have increased the area’s vulnerability. One article in the series concluded, “Hundreds of thousands would be left homeless, and it would take months to dry out the area and begin to make it livable. But there wouldn’t be much for residents to come home to. The local economy would be in ruins.”

”The American Prospect” carried “Thinking Big About Hurricanes” on May 23, 2005. That article described the likely aftermath of a major storm surge. “Soon the geographical “bowl” of the Crescent City would fill up with the waters of the lake, leaving those unable to evacuate with little option but to cluster on rooftops — terrain they would have to share with hungry rats, fire ants, nutria, snakes, and perhaps alligators. The water itself would become a festering stew of sewage, gasoline, refinery chemicals, and debris.”

‘Popular Mechanics” ran a story in September of 2001 called ”New Orleans Is Sinking” discussing what might happen if a hurricane of this size landed on New Orleans.

”Scientific American” published an article by Mark Fischetti in October of 2001 called “Drowning New Orleans“. This article begins, “A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Human activities along the Misssissippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city…New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen.”

The ”National Geographic Magazine” published a feature in its October 2004 issue titled ”Gone With the Water”. The article’s primary focus is on the destuction of the Mississippi delta’s wetlands and the effects that this has on the region’s ability to withstand a hurricane (in addition to ecological and social impacts). The article begins with a haunting hypothetical worst-case scenario.

The PBS science show ”Nova” aired an episode on the hurricane threat to New Orleans in January 2005, including interviews with New Orleans officials and scientists involved in the LSU study. The episode is avaliable for online viewing here.

The June 2005 FX Networks docudrama ”Oil Storm” depicted a category 4 hurricane hitting New Orleans that forced residents to evacuate and hide out in the Superdome. It went on to speculate about a national economic meltdown caused by the decreased oil supply.

In 2001, The ”Houston Chronicle” published a story, ”Keeping its head above water: New Orleans faces doomsday scenario” which predicted that a severe hurricane striking New Orleans “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.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.