The Storm is the ultimate inside story of the Katrina tragedy. In Louisiana, van Heerden is known as a scientist who tells it like it is. He knows why the levees failed to protect New Orleans. As a former coastal restoration chief for the state, he knows why the abused wetlands surrounding the city could not protect the levees. He knew how many people would be unwilling--or unable--to evacuate and how many homes were likely to be destroyed. And he has seen with his own eyes the politics responsible over the decades for the failure to plan for this completely predictable situation. He now unites this understanding with his firsthand, behind-the-scenes reporting, including the state's official investigation into the levee failures, which he led.
Van Heerden witnessed the desperation of first responders who were unable to talk with one another--and the heroism of those same responders, tirelessly working the waters of a flooded New Orleans to save thousands of lives. This is their story. It is the story of the families that escaped the flooding in Louisiana and the devastating storm surge on the Mississippi coastline--and it is told in memory of those 1,300 Americans who did not.
If the past is indeed prologue, "America's wetlands" is in terminal trouble, but they don't have to be. Van Heerden lays out the necessary course of action for building the levees and the protective wetlands that will guarantee "Cat 5" flood protection for New Orleans and the surrounding communities. Success depends only on civic will and political leadership. Van Heerden doesn't like to see science pushed to the sidelines, but that is what happened in Louisiana for decades. He is the only one to connect the dots between the bureaucrats, the politicians, the Corps of Engineers, and the tragic chain of events that culminated in the catastrophe that crippled, perhaps forever, a great American city.
This serious, scientific explanation of what exactly happened in the hours-and years-leading up to Hurricane Katrina's devestation of New Orleans brings a fresh perspective to a tragedy that has generated remarkably similar news accounts over the past eight months. Van Heerden, Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, gives a passionate, rigorous account of what went wrong in New Orleans that, if admittedly non-objective, is a noble and credible call for truth and accountability Long recognized by FEMA as one of the three most likely and dangerous disasters threatening the country, the possibility of a hurricane like Katrina was ignored by corrupt politicians and discounted by residents tired of past evacuations (George, Floyd, Ivan, and Rita) that in hindsight seemed unnecessary. Technical details threaten at times to overwhelm readers interested in the human story of the storm, but van Heerden manages to navigate the narrow path that fuses scientific data with a gripping narrative worthy of a Tom Clancy thriller. Informative and emotional, Van Heerden's book sheds new light on one of the most destructive-and important-natural disasters to hit the U.S. in modern history, and is a must-read for anyone truly interested in the facts behind Hurricane Katrina.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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May 18, 2006
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