From the October 2001 issue of Scientific American:
“New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen. The city lies below sea level, in a bowl bordered by levees that fend off Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south and west. And because of a damning confluence of factors, the city is sinking further, putting it at increasing flood risk after even minor storms. The low-lying Mississippi Delta, which buffers the city from the gulf, is also rapidly disappearing. A year from now another 25 to 30 square miles of delta marsh–an area the size of Manhattan–will have vanished. An acre disappears every 24 minutes. Each loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over the delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million people inside and another million in surrounding communities. Extensive evacuation would be impossible because the surging water would cut off the few escape routes. Scientists at Louisiana State University (L.S.U.), who have modeled hundreds of possible storm tracks on advanced computers, predict that more than 100,000 people could die. The body bags wouldn’t go very far.
A direct hit is inevitable.”
(Related and of interest, Sidney Blumenthal in Der Spiegel. Also to editorialize, if this the result of the disaster preparation that this administration has been effectively charged with in the aftermath of 9/11, then it seems to have failed big time in one of its basic responsibilities. )
(Hat tips: Linta, Roop and Beth Ann)