Why We Returned to New Orleans

Two years later, the country is still failing a great American city

In thinking about Katrina, most Americans consider the disaster to have been a random event, a force of nature that couldn't be controlled or predicted. I know I did. But two years after Katrina drowned New Orleans, I'm persuaded that what happened in the Big Easy was less an act of nature than a man-made disaster. Katrina was not the Big One that the city had long feared; it was a Category 3 storm that mostly missed the city. But through a mixture of shoddy engineering, poor planning and selfish politics, a survivable hurricane was turned into an epic disaster. The storm...

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