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Chasing PhantomsReality, Imagination, and Homeland Security Since 9/11$
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Michael Barkun

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834701

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877692_barkun

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Hurricane Katrina, Unseen Dangers, and the all-Hazards Policy

Hurricane Katrina, Unseen Dangers, and the all-Hazards Policy

(p.55) Four Hurricane Katrina, Unseen Dangers, and the all-Hazards Policy
Chasing Phantoms

Michael Barkun

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how there may be a connection, though perverse, between the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and unseen dangers. The hurricane was all too visible, shown on millions of television sets in the garish colors of weather radar while it was well out to sea. The events in New Orleans itself seem remote from the domain of unseen dangers. The proximate cause of the devastation was less the hurricane itself than the failure of the levees that protected those portions of the city below sea level. The human suffering came to be seen as a consequence less of the levee breaks than of the ineptitude of those charged with aiding victims. Only later did it become clear that in addition to the failures of rescuers, the levees themselves broke because they had been improperly designed and constructed. Whether one focuses upon the failings of rescuers or engineers, however, the New Orleans calamity looks less like a natural and more like an anthropogenic disaster.

Keywords:   Hurricane Katrina, unseen dangers, human suffering, New Orleans calamity, anthropogenic disaster

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