Catastrophe in the Making

The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow

  • William R. Freudenburg
  • Robert Gramling
  • Shirley Laska
  • Kai T. Erikson
Book

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 3-14
  3. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 15-30
  4. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 31-44
  5. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 45-53
  6. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 55-66
  7. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 67-89
  8. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 91-109
  9. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 111-134
  10. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 135-145
  11. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 147-161
  12. William R. Freudenburg, Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, Kai T. Erikson
    Pages 163-170
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 171-209

About this book

Introduction

When houses are flattened, towns submerged, and people stranded without electricity or even food, we attribute the suffering to “natural disasters” or “acts of God.” But what if they’re neither? What if we, as a society, are bringing these catastrophes on ourselves?

That’s the provocative theory of Catastrophe in the Making, the first book to recognize Hurricane Katrina not as a “perfect storm,” but a tragedy of our own making—and one that could become commonplace.

The authors, one a longtime New Orleans resident, argue that breached levees and sloppy emergency response are just the most obvious examples of government failure. The true problem is more deeply rooted and insidious, and stretches far beyond the Gulf Coast.

Based on the false promise of widespread prosperity, communities across the U.S. have embraced all brands of “economic development” at all costs. In Louisiana, that meant development interests turning wetlands into shipping lanes. By replacing a natural buffer against storm surges with a 75-mile long, obsolete canal that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, they guided the hurricane into the heart of New Orleans and adjacent communities. The authors reveal why, despite their geographic differences, California and Missouri are building—quite literally—toward similar destruction.

Too often, the U.S. “growth machine” generates wealth for a few and misery for many. Drawing lessons from the most expensive “natural” disaster in American history, Catastrophe in the Making shows why thoughtless development comes at a price we can ill afford.

Keywords

Flood control Hurricane Katrina, 2005 Hurricane protection Levees New Orleans

Authors and affiliations

  • William R. Freudenburg
    • 1
  • Robert Gramling
    • 2
  • Shirley Laska
    • 3
  • Kai T. Erikson
    • 4
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.University of Southwestern LouisianaLafayetteUSA
  3. 3.University of New OrleansNew OrleansUSA
  4. 4.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.5822/978-1-61091-156-6
  • Copyright Information William R. Freudenburg, Robert B. Gramling, Shirley B. Laska, and Kai T. Erikson 2012
  • Publisher Name Island Press, Washington, DC
  • eBook Packages Earth and Environmental Science
  • Online ISBN 978-1-61091-156-6
  • About this book