Questions after Hurricane Katrina Jonathan Barnett
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?
Before deciding, as some people have, that New Orleans should not be rebuilt, consider some other vulnerable locations ….
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
Consider Miami Beach with a 1 foot rise in sea level, which some people consider inevitable by 2050
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
Earthquakes are unpredictable, but also inevitable
Zones showing the probability of earthquakes in the U.S.
Probability of one or more earthquakes greater than 6.7 on the Richter scale in the Bay Area by 2032: 62%
Then there are forest fires, like this one between Berkeley and Oakland
“ 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
Preparing for potential disasters is a Homeland Security issue