Thursday, September 01, 2005

Natural Hazards Observer

Off the subject of librarianship for awhile, it's impossible to be moved by the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. At the risk of playing Monday morning quarterback, I'm amazed at the lack of preparation. I know the breaking of the levees was not predicted, but it should not have caught officials by total surprise. Folks at the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology, University of New Orleans raised the issue last year...

Shirley Laska's Note: This column was originally intended to be the final disaster in the "Disasters Waiting to Happen" series. As I was developing the hypothetical situation depicting a devastating hurricane striking New Orleans, Louisiana, the disaster waiting to happen threatened to become a reality: Hurricane Ivan, a category 4 hurricane (with 140 mph winds) fluctuating to a category 5 (up to 155 mph winds), was slowly moving directly toward New Orleans. Forecasters were predicting a one-in-four chance that Ivan would remain on this direct path and would be an "extreme storm" at landfall. In reality, the storm veered to the north and made landfall east of Mobile Bay, Alabama, causing devastation and destruction well into the central Gulf shoreline and throughout the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic states.