Comments: Hurricane Katrina

Yeah, things are bad, but Lucifer's Hammer was much worse. At least, I don't think we've got a band of cannibals running around. And the US and state governments still exist, although the local governments are pretty much shut down.

Imagine what would have happened if we had no storm warning, and no one evacuated. Would have been a lot worse loss of life.

Posted by owlish at August 30, 2005 11:59 PM

Well, the cannibalism didn't happen right away in Lucifer's Hammer. However, the underclass immediately sweeping neighborhoods and stores for food and valuables, and the quick breakdown of law and order in the affected regions are what made me think of that book. Extrapolate this to every major coastal city and you get an idea of what an ocean-strike by a large comet or meteor would do. And the key insight of Niven and Pournelle, as I recall, is that electricity holds civilization together. That seems to be the case there, too.

We were appalled to see the brazen looting - not just for necessities, which I could understand, if not condone - but for things like sneakers and electronics. That, combined with the flood made me think of LH.

And it could have been much worse, pre-satellite.

I'm wondering why there aren't a couple of Sikorsky sky cranes down there lifting some large concrete spans (like bridge spans) and building a temporary berm near the levee breach. You would think there would be a state highway depot somewhere withing flying distance with some large, temporary materials like that.

I'm sure the Corps of Engineers is working on something like that right now. I'm just surprised there wasn't a contingency plan in place that could be activated almost immediately (although maybe the sandbags were the contingency plan -- which would make me think about never living in N.O. again had I been a resident there).

Posted by JohnL at August 31, 2005 08:52 AM

Pre-sat, it probably would have been just as bad as Galveston's 1900 storm. And the more I hear, the more it seems law has completely broken down in New Orleans [looters breaking into hospitals?].

And yeah, this does make me wonder about the wisdom of living on the coast.

Posted by owlish at August 31, 2005 11:11 PM