Friday, April 07, 2006

The Story of Our Lives

From the Society of Professional Journalists' site, "Eight months after Hurricane Katrina, Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss looks back on his newspaper’s role and the everlasting effects of the disaster":

But contrary to a widely held belief that persists outside of New Orleans, it was not the storm itself that would devastate New Orleans. As we worked the story throughout the afternoon, the magnitude of a much more epic catastrophe would reveal itself.

On the northern reaches of the city, hours after Katrina’s worst had passed, water from Lake Pontchartrain had risen inside the canals lined with concrete floodwalls and built to funnel rainwater out of the city. In the course of Monday, key floodwalls, designed and built by the federal government, collapsed one by one — an event that our reporting since the storm has revealed to be one of the greatest engineering failures in our nation’s history.

The water poured in through the gashes in a cruel black torrent that not only destroyed vast swaths of the city, but ultimately claimed more than 1,000 lives.

By Monday afternoon, what was a fierce but survivable hurricane had been overtaken by an epic flood whose magnitude and duration have no modern American equal.


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