The development of manufactured flood risk: New Orleans' mid-century growth machine and the hurricane of 1947.

Disasters

PubMedID: 26395107

Youngman N. The development of manufactured flood risk: New Orleans' mid-century growth machine and the hurricane of 1947. Disasters. 2015;39 Suppl 2s166-87.
Much of the flood risk faced by coastal and riparian populations worldwide is manufactured rather than strictly natural-the outcome of human development projects involving municipal growth machines. This paper details the impacts of the hurricane of September 1947 on New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, and its relationship with the urban development and expansion efforts undertaken during and after the Second World War of 1939-45. New Orleans' newest drainage and shipping canals, which were a major part of its mid-twentieth century development initiative, funnelled the storm surge into the city, a pattern that would repeat itself in subsequent years. Unlike more infamous hurricanes, such as Betsy and Katrina of 1965 and 2005, respectively, the 1947 event is not well-known among disaster researchers. Yet, it provides a fundamental example of how local elites have continuously exacerbated flood risk throughout the city and surrounding area, leaving it simultaneously dependent on and endangered by its embedded system of drainage and shipping canals.