Questions after Hurricane Katrina

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Roundtable - A National Framework for Natural Hazard Risk Reduction and Management: Developing a Research Agenda

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  • 1. Questions after Hurricane Katrina Jonathan Barnett
  • 2. New Orleans is being rebuilt because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to do its job. Left unanswered are two questions: What would have happened to New Orleans in a direct hit from a Category 5 storm? What happens to New Orleans as global sea levels rise?
  • 3. New Orleans
  • 4. Before deciding, as some people have, that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, consider some other vulnerable locations ….
  • 5. A direct hit from a category 1 storm on lower Manhattan would have a storm surge of 12 – 13 feet; Category 3: probably 30 feet + In 1821 storm driven tides rose more than 12 feet in a hour over lower Manhattan: “only the fact that the storm hit at low tide saved the city.” Obviously with rising sea levels the problem becomes worse NYC Official Hurricane Evacuation Map: It is assumed that subway, train, and auto tunnels will flood
  • 6. Consider Miami Beach with a 1 foot rise in sea level, which some people consider inevitable by 2050
  • 7. Miami and Miami Beach today
  • 8. One foot sea level rise mapped over Miami, Miami Beach
  • 9. Current 100 year flood plain, South New Jersey shore
  • 10. Current 100 year flood plain
  • 11. Current 100 year flood plain, plus one meter sea level rise predicted for 2100
  • 12. Current 100 year flood plain, plus one meter sea level rise predicted for 2100
  • 13. Broad Street
  • 14. A one meter rise in sea level, considered almost certain by 2100, and perhaps earlier, will change the coastal geography of the East and Gulf Coasts. Shown here: the New England coastline and Eastern Long Island
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  • 19. Earthquakes are unpredictable, but also inevitable
  • 20. Zones showing the probability of earthquakes in the U.S.
  • 21. Probability of one or more earthquakes greater than 6.7 on the Richter scale in the Bay Area by 2032: 62%
  • 22. Then there are forest fires, like this one between Berkeley and Oakland
  • 23. “ Half of the nation’s population growth is taking place in the 10 fastest growing states; seven of these states rank in the top 10 in the percentage of their population at risk from wildfire.” - Roger Kennedy in The New York Times
  • 24. Preparing for potential disasters is a Homeland Security issue
  • 25. Needed: A National Atlas of Risk