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Urban Lessons from Katrina

Working paper #574
Jonathan Barnett

Some have argued that New Orleans should not be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, given the city’s continued vulnerability to a direct hit from a stronger storm. Other major U.S. cities on the Gulf and East Coasts are also vulnerable to hurricanes and have less protection than New Orleans. While a direct hit from a hurricane is not as likely in New York City as in New Orleans, flood surges could invade subways and vehicle tunnels. West Coast cities are vulnerable to earthquakes, as are Memphis, Charleston and Boston. Rising sea levels imperil coastal resort areas, and forest fires are a threat to many rapidly growing regions.

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