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Why did Ida cause so much less damage than Katrina? Because government did its job

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01.09.2021

The most significant images from Hurricane Ida's devastating landfall on the Gulf Coast are the ones we are not seeing: no refugees huddled in the Superdome, no shots of block after block of New Orleans under water, no miles of overtopped and crumbling levees. As the table below suggests, Ida, which hit New Orleans more directly than Katrina did in 2005 — and mustered greater and more concentrated destructive power — wreaked only a fraction of the loss of life and property damages.

Why is this so significant? Because the biggest reason that, as the mayor of New Orleans said, "We didn't have a second Katrina," had nothing to do with Ida's relative strength. It had to do with $14.5 billion in federal investment in disaster prevention, mostly spent raising, strengthening and hardening the levees, surge barriers and pumping systems that protect New Orleans. These investments saved the city.

The lesson here is clear enough: Prevention works. Investment pays off. We do not........

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