See my comments to a post on the current state of disaster relief in New Orleans. Atmospheric scientist have noted that we now in an active hurricane cycle. So why wasn't our Homeland Security apparatus drilling for the South Coast's long-anticipated 'Big One' scenario? Scholars in the earth sciences and environmental engineers have long insisted that New Orleans was living on borrowed time. FEMA had already listed a major hurricane striking New Orleans as one of the top three most "likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this country."
The Survival of New Orleans blog
Instructive Background Reading
"Washing Away," special section in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 2002.
Craig Colton, Unnatural Metropolis (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005). See as well the interview with Colton in Wednesday's New York Times article "After Centuries of 'Controlling' Land, Gulf Learns Who's the Boss."
Mark Fischetti, "Drowning New Orleans," Scientific American, Oct 2001.
Todd Shallat, "In the Wake of Hurricane Betsy," in Craig Colton, ed., Transforming New Orleans and Its Environs (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000).