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If it don't stop raining, the levee gonna break

  • Jan 17, 2013
Rating:
+3
This old blues line pretty much sums up van Heerden's scientific conclusion about the primary source of the flood's damage. He writes with the passion of an angry man still in the midst of the circumstances that have raised his ire. He also write from his expertise in coastal geology and disaster preparation and management.

The disaster, he argues vociferously, was not natural (Katrina was a Cat 3 storm by the time it hit the city, not the "big one" everyone feared) but man-made by failure to build and maintain the proper flood management approaches. He proposes a three step restoration approach to ready New Orleans for the next Katrina: improved levees in and south of the city, restoration of wetlands in the Mississippi Delta, and rebuilding of barrier islands off the coast.

Douglas Brinkley's classic Katrina account The Great Deluge would later provide the comprehensive and authoritative history of the full political, social, medical, and human story of Katrina. But Van Heerden applies his scientific background to his account, which gives his story credence. He also wears his sometimes prickly personality on his sleeve, which leaves the reader wondering how much his view of the event is skewed. The writer never claims objectivity but does claim and demonstrate competence. He also wrote less than a year after Katrina, so his account necessarily ends before the investigations, lawsuits, and restoration efforts were complete. 

A followup new edition from van Heerden would be interesting. However, such an update will not likely be forthcoming, in 2010 van Heerden was fired by Louisiana State University and enjoined from access to hurricane models and data and prohibited from making public appearances or working with government agencies. It is his passion that makes this account so interesting to read, but also suggests the need for tempering his passion with competing viewpoints and keeps this book from being a top-rated classic.

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July 05, 2013
Good review!
 
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review by . January 17, 2013
This old blues line pretty much sums up van Heerden's scientific conclusion about the primary source of the flood's damage. He writes with the passion of an angry man still in the midst of the circumstances that have raised his ire. He also write from his expertise in coastal geology and disaster preparation and management.      The disaster, he argues vociferously, was not natural (Katrina was a Cat 3 storm by the time it hit the city, not the "big one" everyone …
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Todd Stockslager ()
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I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Author: Ivor van Heerden, Mike Bryan
Genre: Economic Conditions, 21st Century, South, United States, Social Sciences, Disaster Relief, Weather, Reference, Hurricanes

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