Katrina: 10 years later

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi.  The storm was ferocious.  In New Orleans, flooding breached four levees, culminating in floodwaters of 15 to 20 feet covering 80 percent of the city. The current issue of Government Executive takes a look at Katrina through the words of 9 eyewitnesses.  ..

The implications of “St. Bernard Parish Government v. United States”

On May 1, a federal judge in Washington ruled in a nearly decade-old lawsuit that the U.S. is liable for flooding that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike.  In a strongly-worded opinion, Judge Susan Braden of the U.S...

Flood insurance protection: Challenges for small business, FEMA and NFIP

Recently, Business Insurance highlighted a white paper sponsored by ACE Insured concerning flood insurance (“Innovations in Flood Insurance Protections” by Jeremiah Konz).  An excerpt: In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, many corporate risk managers whose organizations had experienced a flood loss from the hurricane were distressed by their inability to acquire adequate limits of insurance to absorb future flood losses that might occur during the remainder of the policy period...

Getting it right on wetlands & hurricane protection

Henry Fountain, who covers science and engineering for The New York Times, is a sharp, experienced reporter and he recently showed that with an interesting article about keeping New York City and other low-lying areas safe during future storms.  An excerpt: “[E]ven the strongest proponents of natural defenses acknowledge that they are no match for a storm like Sandy, which produced a record storm surge of more than 13 feet in New York Harbor… “If a marsh or reef is effective in reducing storm surge, it is because it dissipates energy as water moves over grasses, roots, oyster shells and other materials, generating friction...

The proper goal of federal flood policy

In 2005, after the terrible devastation of Hurricane Katrina, while I was commanding the Army Corps of Engineers’ emergency operations, I was told that some of our people heard from New Orleans citizens, “You told us we were protected.”  That report gave me pause to ask, Can the Federal government really “protect” citizens from floods, especially in areas as vulnerable to storms and flooding as New Orleans?..