Katrina disaster was man-made, not natural

December 30, 2009

I take severe umbrage at the sentence, "After Hurricane Katrina, we learned that the kind of chaos that ensues after a natural disaster in a Third World country can happen here" ("For many, a decade to forget," Dec. 27). This was NOT a natural disaster!

Katrina wasn't the entity that put New Orleans in a toxic, fetid soup, left her citizens in calamitous conditions and caused damage in the billions of dollars.

The storm passed by; New Orleans survived. High winds and much rain weren't catastrophic. Nor was this "the big one," a Category 3, with the eye missing the city.

Shoddily designed and constructed levees, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, resulted in this federal flood.

Levees weren't high enough. Overtopping (bad enough) eroded underlying structures at the foot. Levees weren't armored. Sand was used instead of solid clay. Sheet pilings driven in to hold them were too short to hold.

This disaster was man-made. Given properly engineered and constructed levees, we'd have seen a different outcome.

This event was far too painful, and has cost the citizens of New Orleans (and the rest of the country) far too dearly, to keep perpetuating the myth that Katrina flooded the city.Deborah Prentice, Salem, Mass.

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