New Orleans: An Environmental History of Disaster

  • J. Donald HughesEmail author


If Egypt is the gift of the Nile, similarly New Orleans and all southern Louisiana are the gifts of the Mississippi River. Without human interference, the river would continue to add to its vast, flat delta, flooding and shifting from one channel to another. The wetlands, along with grassy marshes, and the barrier islands formed further out on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, formed insulation against hurricanes. New Orleans, a city that is largely below sea level, has been hit by a major hurricane every few decades, but the earlier ones tended to do less damage due to the protection they offered. Healthy ecosystems served as natural defenses. They were like speed bumps against storm surges. But much has disappeared and the rest is endangered, and the reason why can be explained by the environmental history of the region. Natural protection has been stripped away in large part by human projects.


Storm Surge Barrier Island Federal Emergency Management Agency Environmental History Mississippi Delta 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of DenverPrincetonUSA

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