Scientific American: “Drowning New Orleans”


Richard Moore

Date: Fri, 02 Sep 2005 03:01:33 -0500 (CDT)
From: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Scientific American & Blumenthal
To: •••@••.•••

Two pieces here.  Sidney Blumenthal re the Bush vs Levee
Engineers conflict.

Then the astounding piece from Scientific American, October
1991. "Drowning New Orleans."

The prosecution rests.



This is on German magazine DER SPIEGEL's website. Don't know
if it's in the U.S.,1518,372455,00.html

"No One Can Say they Didn't See it Coming"

By Sidney Blumenthal
August 31, 2001

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was
one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the
Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by
44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina
has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and
shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its
main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has
become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by
the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study
how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic
hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the
research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in
1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood
Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened
and renovated levees and pumping stations.  In early 2001, the
Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating
that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three
most likely disasters in the U.S., including  a terrorist
attack on New York City.

But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project
essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In
2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New
Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for
holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80

Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total
reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the
New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze.
The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans'
levees, but it was too late.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which before the hurricane
published a series on the federal funding problem, and whose
presses are now underwater, reported online: "No one can say
they didn't see it coming ... Now in the wake of one of the
worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the
lack of preparation."

The Bush administration's policy of turning over wetlands to
developers almost certainly also contributed to the heightened
level of the storm surge. In 1990, a federal task force began
restoring lost wetlands surrounding New Orleans. Every two
miles of wetland between the Crescent City and the Gulf
reduces a surge by half a foot. Bush had promised "no net
loss" of wetlands, a policy launched by his father's
administration and bolstered by President Clinton.

But he reversed his approach in 2003, unleashing the
developers. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental
Protection Agency then announced they could no longer protect
wetlands unless they were somehow related to interstate
commerce. In response to this potential crisis, four leading
environmental groups conducted a joint expert study,
concluding in 2004 that without wetlands protection New
Orleans could be devastated by an ordinary, much less a
Category 4 or 5, hurricane.

"There's no way to describe how mindless a policy that is when
it comes to wetlands protection," said one of the report's
authors.  The chairman of the White House's Council on
Environmental Quality dismissed the study as "highly
questionable," and boasted, "Everybody loves what we're

"My administration's climate change policy will be science
based," President Bush declared in June 2001. But in 2002,
when the Environmental Protection Agency submitted a study on
global warming to the United Nations reflecting its expert
research, Bush derided it as "a report put out by a
bureaucracy," and excised the climate change assessment from
the agency's annual report. The next year, when the EPA issued
its first comprehensive "Report on the Environment," stating,
"Climate change has global consequences for human health and
the environment," the White House simply demanded removal of
the line and all similar conclusions. At the G-8 meeting in
Scotland this year, Bush successfully stymied any common
action on global warming. Scientists, meanwhile, have
continued to accumulate impressive data on the rising
temperature of the oceans, which has produced more severe

In February 2004, 60 of the nation's leading scientists,
including 20 Nobel laureates, warned in a statement,
"Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking": "Successful
application of science has played a large part in the policies
that have made the United States of America the world's most
powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and
healthy ... Indeed, this principle has long been adhered to by
presidents and administrations of both parties in forming and
implementing policies. The administration of George W. Bush
has, however, disregarded this principle ... The distortion of
scientific knowledge for partisan political ends must cease." 
Bush completely ignored this statement.

In the two weeks preceding the storm in the Gulf, the trumping
of science by ideology and expertise by special interests

The Federal Drug Administr-ation announced that it was
postponing sale of the morning-after contraceptive pill,
despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and its
approval by the FDA's scientific advisory board.

The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa
accused the Bush administration of responsibility for a condom
shortage in Uganda -- the result of the administration's
evangelical Christian agenda of "abstinence."

When the chief of the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the
Justice Department was ordered by the White House to delete
its study that African-Americans and other minorities are
subject to racial profiling in police traffic stops and he
refused to buckle under, he was forced out of his job.

When the Army Corps of Engineers' chief contracting oversight
analyst objected to a $7 billion no-bid contract awarded for
work in Iraq to Halliburton (the firm at which Vice President
Cheney was formerly CEO), she was demoted despite her superior
professional ratings.

At the National Park Service, a former Cheney aide, a
political appointee lacking professional background, drew up a
plan to overturn past environmental practices and prohibit any
mention of evolution while allowing sale of religious
materials through the Park Service.

On the day the levees burst in New Orleans, Bush delivered a
speech in Colorado comparing the Iraq war to World War II and
himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt: "And he knew that the best
way to bring peace and stability to the region was by bringing
freedom to Japan." Bush had boarded his very own "Streetcar
Named Desire."

Sidney Blumenthal, a former assistant and senior advisor to
President Clinton  and the author of "The Clinton Wars," is
writing a column for Salon and the Guardian of London. 




October 2001


A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of
water, killing thousands. Human activities along the
Mississippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and
now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can
save the city

By Mark Fischetti

The boxes are stacked eight feet high and line the walls of
the large, windowless room. Inside them are new body bags,
10,000 in all. If a big, slow-moving hurricane crossed the
Gulf of Mexico on the right track, it would drive a sea surge
that would drown New Orleans under 20 feet of water. "As the
water recedes," says Walter Maestri, a local emergency
management director, "we expect to find a lot of dead bodies."

New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen. The city lies
below sea level, in a bowl bordered by levees that fend off
Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to
the south and west. And because of a damning confluence of
factors, the city is sinking further, putting it at increasing
flood risk after even minor storms. The low-lying Mississippi
Delta, which buffers the city from the gulf, is also rapidly
disappearing. A year from now another 25 to 30 square miles of
delta marsh--an area the size of Manhattan-- will have
vanished. An acre disappears every 24 minutes.

Each loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over the
delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million people
inside and another million in surrounding communities.
Extensive evacuation would be impossible because the surging
water would cut off the few escape routes. Scientists at
Louisiana State University (L.S.U.), who have modeled hundreds
of possible storm tracks on advanced computers, predict that
more than 100,000 people could die. The body bags wouldn't go
very far.

A direct hit is inevitable. Large hurricanes come close every
year. In 1965 Hurricane Betsy put parts of the city under
eight feet of water. In 1992 monstrous Hurricane Andrew missed
the city by only 100 miles. In 1998 Hurricane Georges veered
east at the last moment but still caused billions of dollars
of damage. At fault are natural processes that have been
artificially accelerated by human tinkering--levying rivers,
draining wetlands, dredging channels and cutting canals
through marshes.

Ironically, scientists and engineers say the only hope is more
manipulation, although they don't necessarily agree on which
proposed projects to pursue. Without intervention, experts at
L.S.U. warn, the protective delta will be gone by 2090. The
sunken city would sit directly on the sea--at best a troubled
Venice, at worst a modern-day Atlantis.

As if the risk to human lives weren't enough, the potential
drowning of New Orleans has serious economic and environmental
consequences as well. Louisiana's coast produces one third of
the country's seafood, one fifth of its oil and one quarter of
its natural gas. It harbors 40 percent of the nation's coastal
wetlands and provides wintering grounds for 70 percent of its
migratory waterfowl. Facilities on the Mississippi River from
New Orleans to Baton Rouge constitute the nation's largest
port. And the delta fuels a unique element of America's
psyche; it is the wellspring of jazz and blues, the source of
everything Cajun and Creole, and the home of Mardi Gras. Thus
far, however, Washington has turned down appeals for
substantial aid.

Fixing the delta would serve as a valuable test case for the
country and the world. Coastal marshes are disappearing along
the eastern seaboard, the other Gulf Coast states, San
Francisco Bay and the Columbia River estuary for many of the
same reasons besetting Louisiana. Parts of Houston are sinking
faster than New Orleans. Major deltas around the globe--from
the Orinoco in Venezuela, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Mekong
in Vietnam--are in the same delicate state today that the
Mississippi Delta was in 100 to 200 years ago.

Lessons from New Orleans could help establish guidelines for
safer development in these areas, and the state could export
restoration technology worldwide. In Europe, the Rhine, Rhone
and Po deltas are losing land. And if sea level rises
substantially because of global warming in the next 100 years
or so, numerous low-lying coastal cities such as New York
would need to take protective measures similar to those
proposed for Louisiana.

Seeing is Believing

Shea Penland is among those best suited to explain the delta's
blues. Now a geologist at the University of New Orleans, he
spent 16 years at L.S.U.; does contract work for the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, which builds the levees; sits on federal
and state working groups implementing coastal restoration
projects; and consults for the oil and gas industry. His
greatest credential, however, is that he knows the local folk
in every little bayou town, clump of swamp and spit of marsh
up and down the disintegrating coast--the people who
experience its degradation every day.

Penland, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt on a mid-May
morning, is eager to get me into his worn red Ford F150 pickup
truck so we can explore what's eating the 50 miles of wet
landscape south of New Orleans. The Mississippi River built
the delta plain that forms southeastern Louisiana over
centuries by depositing vast quantities of sediment every year
during spring floods.

Although the drying sands and silts would compress under their
own weight and sink some, the next flood would rebuild them.
Since 1879, however, the Corps of Engineers, at Congress's
behest, has progressively lined the river with levees to
prevent floods from damaging towns and industry. The river is
now shackled from northern Louisiana to the gulf, cutting off
the sediment supply. As a result, the plain just subsides
below the encroaching ocean. As the wetlands vanish, so does
New Orleans's protection from the sea.

A hurricane's storm surge can reach heights of more than 20
feet, but every four miles of marsh can absorb enough water to
knock it down by one foot. The flat marsh right outside New
Orleans is still a vibrant sponge, an ever changing mix of
shallow freshwater, green marsh grasses and cypress swamp hung
with Spanish moss. But as Penland and I reach the halfway
point en route to the gulf, the sponge becomes seriously torn
and waterlogged. Isolated roads on raised stone beds pass
rusted trailer homes and former brothels along now flooded
bayous; stands of naked, dead trees; and browned grasses and
reaches of empty water.

Down in Port Fourchon, where the tattered marsh finally gives
way to open gulf, the subsidence and erosion are aggressive.
The lone road exists only to service a collection of desolate
corrugated buildings where oil and natural- gas pipelines
converge from hundreds of offshore wellheads. Countless
platforms form a gloomy steel forest rising from the sea. To
bring in the goods, the fossil fuel companies have dredged
hundreds of miles of navigation channels and pipeline canals
throughout the coastal and interior marshes. Each cut removes
land, and boat traffic and tides steadily erode the banks.

The average U.S. beach erodes about two feet a year, Penland
says, but Port Fourchon loses 40 to 50 feet a year--the
fastest rate in the country. The network of canals also gives
saltwater easy access to interior marshes, raising their
salinity and killing the grasses and bottomwood forests from
the roots up. No vegetation is left to prevent wind and water
from wearing the marshes away. In a study funded by the oil
and gas industry, Penland documented that the industry has
caused one third of the delta's land loss.

Alligator Science 

The Duet brothers know firsthand how various factors
accelerate land loss beyond natural subsidence. Toby and
Danny, two of Penland's local pals along our route, live on a
50-foot beige barge complex anchored in the middle of 15
square miles of broken marsh, some 20 miles northwest of Port
Fourchon. Their family leased the land from oil companies, for
fishing and hunting, 16 years ago when it was merely wet. Now
it lies under five to eight feet of water.

They filter rain for drinking water, process their own sewage,
catch the food they eat and make money hosting overnight
fishing parties for sportsmen. A dozen wellheads dot the marsh
where Toby picks us up by boat. Heading out to the barge
through one canal, he says, "I used to be able to spit to the
mud on either side. Now they run big oil containers through

Inside the barge's wide-open room, Danny offers other
measures: "Two years ago we drove a wooden two-by-four into
the mud on the edge of a canal, to stake our alligator trap. I
went past it the other day; the edge has receded 18 feet from
the stake. Doesn't much matter, though. The gators are gone.
Water's too salty."

With the marsh disappearing, the delta's only remaining
defense is some crumbling barrier islands that a century ago
were part of the region's shoreline. The next morning Penland
and I travel an hour down the coast to the Louisiana
Universities Marine Consortium, a scientific outpost in
Cocodrie, an encampment of scientists and fishermen on the
coast's edge. From there we head out in one of the
consortium's gray research boats.

The boat pounds across what appears to be choppy sea for 50
minutes before we reach Isles Dernieres ("last islands" in
French). But the open surf is never more than seven feet deep.
The vast reach of shallow water was once thick with swaying
grasses, parted occasionally by narrow, serpentine waterways
full of shrimp, oysters, redfish and trout. Penland beaches us
in the bayside mud. We walk across a mere 80 yards of barren
sand before we toe the ocean. A similarly diminutive outcrop
is visible in the distance to either side. They are what
remains of a once very long, staunch island lush with black
mangroves. "It broke up ocean waves, cut down storm surges and
held back saltwater so the marsh behind it could thrive,"
Penland says in mourning. Now the ocean rushes right by.

Louisiana's barrier islands are eroding faster than any around
the country. Millions of tons of sediment used to exit the
Mississippi River's mouth every year and be dragged by
longshore currents to the islands, building up what tides had
worn away. But in part because levees and dredging prevent the
river's last miles from meandering naturally, the mouth has
telescoped out to the continental shelf. The sediment just
drops over the edge of the underwater cliff into the deep

Back in New Orleans the next day it becomes apparent that
other human activities have made matters worse. Cliff Mugnier,
an L.S.U. geodesist who also works part-time for the Corps of
Engineers, explains why from the third floor of the
rectangular, cement Corps headquarters, which squats atop the
Mississippi River levee the Corps has built and rebuilt for
122 years. Mugnier says that the earth beneath the delta
consists of layers of muck--a wet peat several hundred feet
deep--formed by centuries of flooding. As the Corps leveed the
river, the city and industry drained large marshes, which in
decades past were considered wasteland. Stopping the floods
and draining surface water lowered the water table, allowing
the top mucks to dry, consolidate and subside, hastening the
city's drop below sea level--a process already under way as
the underlying mucks consolidated naturally.

That's not all. As the bowl became deeper, it would flood
during routine rainstorms. So the Corps, in cooperation with
the city's Sewerage and Water Board, began digging a maze of
canals to collect rainwater. The only place to send it was
Lake Pontchartrain. But because the lake's mean elevation is
one foot, the partners had to build pumping stations at the
canal heads to push the collected runoff uphill into the lake.

The pumps serve another critical function. Because the canals
are basically ditches, groundwater seeps into them from the
wet soils. But if they are full, they can't take on water
during a storm. So the city runs the pumps regularly to expel
seepage from the canals, which draws even more water from the
ground, leading to further drying and subsidence.

"We are aggravating our own problem," Mugnier says. Indeed,
the Corps is building more canals and enlarging pumping
stations, because the lower the city sinks, the more it
floods. In the meantime, streets, driveways and backyards cave
in, and houses blow up when natural-gas lines rupture. Mugnier
is also worried about the parishes (counties) bordering the
city, which are digging drainage canals as they become more
populated. In St. Charles Parish to the west, he says, "the
surface could subside by as much as 14 feet."

The Scare 

Humankind can't stop the delta's subsidence, and it can't
knock down the levees to allow natural river flooding and
meandering, because the region is developed. The only
realistic solutions, most scientists and engineers agree, are
to rebuild the vast marshes so they can absorb high waters and
reconnect the barrier islands to cut down surges and protect
the renewed marshes from the sea.

Since the late 1980s Louisiana's senators have made various
pleas to Congress to fund massive remedial work. But they were
not backed by a unified voice. L.S.U. had its surge models,
and the Corps had others. Despite agreement on general
solutions, competition abounded as to whose specific projects
would be most effective. The Corps sometimes painted
academics' cries about disaster as veiled pitches for research
money. Academia occasionally retorted that the Corps's
solution to everything was to bulldoze more dirt and pour more
concrete, without scientific rationale. Meanwhile oystermen
and shrimpers complained that the proposals from both the
scientists and the engineers would ruin their fishing grounds.

Len Bahr, head of the governor's Coastal Activities Office in
Baton Rouge, tried to bring everyone together. Passionate
about southern Louisiana, Bahr has survived three governors,
each with different sympathies. "This is the realm in which
science has to operate," Bahr says. "There are five federal
agencies and six state agencies with jurisdiction over what
happens in the wetlands." Throughout the 1990s, Bahr says with
frustration, "we only received $40 million a year" from
Congress, a drop compared with the bucket of need. Even with
the small projects made possible by these dollars, Louisiana
scientists predicted that by 2050 coastal Louisiana would lose
another 1,000 square miles of marsh and swamp, an area the
size of Rhode Island.

Then Hurricane Georges arrived in September 1998. Its fiercely
circulating winds built a wall of water 17 feet high topped
with driven waves, which threatened to surge into Lake
Pontchartrain and wash into New Orleans. This was the very
beast that L.S.U.'s early models had warned about, and it was
headed right for the city. Luckily, just before Georges made
landfall, it slowed and turned a scant two degrees to the
east. The surge collapsed under suddenly chaotic winds.

A Grand Plan 

The scientists, engineers and politicians who had been
squabbling realized how close the entire delta had come to
disaster, and Bahr says that it scared them into reaching a
consensus. Late in 1998 the governor's office, the state's
Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and
Wildlife Service and all 20 of the state's coastal parishes
published Coast 2050--a blueprint for restoring coastal

No group is bound by the plan, however, and if all the
projects were pursued, the price tag would be $14 billion.
"So," I ask in the ninth-floor conference room adjacent to the
governor's office in Baton Rouge, "give me the short list" of
Coast 2050 projects that would make the most difference.
Before me are Joe Suhayda, director of L.S.U.'s Louisiana
Water Resources Research Institute, who has modeled numerous
storm tracks and knows the key scientists, Corps engineers,
and city emergency planners; Vibhas Aravamuthan, who programs
L.S.U.'s computer models; Len Bahr; and Bahr's second-in-
command, Paul Kemp. All were involved in designing Coast 2050.

First and foremost, they decide, build a river diversion at
several critical spots along the Mississippi, to restore
disappearing marshland. At each location the Corps would cut a
channel through the river levee on its south side and build
control gates that would allow freshwater and suspended
sediment to wash down through select marshes toward the gulf.
The water could disrupt oyster beds, but if the sites were
carefully selected, deals could be made with landowners.

The second step: rebuild the southern barrier islands using
more than 500 million cubic yards of sand from nearby Ship
Shoal. Next, the Corps would cut a channel in the narrow neck
of the river delta at about halfway down. Ships could enter
the river there, shortening their trip to interior ports and
saving them money. The Corps could then stop dredging the
southern end of the river. The mouth would fill with sediment
and begin overflowing to the west, sending sand and silt back
into those longshore currents that could sustain the barrier

The channel plan might be integrated into a larger state
proposal to build an entire new Millennium Port. It would
provide deeper draft for modern container ships than the Port
of New Orleans and its main channel, the Mississippi River
Gulf Outlet (MRGO, pronounced Mr. Go), which the Corps dredged
in the early 1960s. The outlet has eroded terribly--from 500
feet across, originally, to 2,000 feet in places--and let in a
relentless stream of saltwater that has killed much of the
marsh that once protected eastern New Orleans against gulf
storms. If the channel or the Millennium Port were built, the
Corps could close MrGo.

A remaining chink in the delta's armor is the pair of narrow
straits on Lake Pontchartrain's eastern edge where it connects
to the gulf. The obvious solution would be to gate them, just
as the Netherlands does to regulate the North Sea's flow
inland. But it would be a tough sell. "We've proposed that in
the past, and it's been shot down," Bahr says. The project's
costs would be extremely high.

This list of the most promising Coast 2050 projects is only
one small group's vision, of course, yet other established
experts concur with its fundamentals. Ivor van Heerden, a
geologist who is deputy director of L.S.U.'s Hurricane Center,
concurs that "if we're going to succeed, we've got to mimic
nature. Building diversions and reestablishing barrier-island
sediment flows are the closest we can come." Shea Penland
pretty much agrees, although he warns that the Mississippi
River may not carry enough sediment to feed multiple
diversions. U.S. Geological Survey studies by Robert Meade
show that the supply of suspended sediment is less than half
of what it was prior to 1953, diverted mostly by dams along
the river's course through middle America.

With no action, one million people could be trapped.

As far as the Corps is concerned, all of the Coast 2050
projects should be implemented. The first to become a reality
is the Davis Pond diversion, due to begin operating by the end
of this year. Project manager Al Naomi, a 30- year Corps civil
engineer, and Bruce Baird, a biological oceanographer, brought
me to the construction site on the Mississippi's southern
levee, 20 miles west of New Orleans.

The structure looks like a modest dam, in line with the levee.
Steel gates in its midsection, each large enough to drive a
bus through, will open and close to control water flowing
through it. The water will exit into a wide swath of cleared
swamp that extends south for a mile, forming a shallow
riverbed that will gradually disperse into boundary-less
marsh. The structure will divert up to 10,650 cubic feet per
second (cfs) of water from the Mississippi, whose total flow
past New Orleans ranges from less than 200,000 cfs during
droughts to more than one million cfs during floods. The
outflow should help preserve 33,000 acres of wetlands,
oysterbeds and fishing grounds. The Corps is bullish on Davis
Pond because of its success at Caernarvon, a smaller,
experimental diversion it opened in 1991 near MrGo. By 1995
Caernarvon had restored 406 acres by increasing the marsh's
sediment and reducing its salinity with freshwater.

Who Should Pay 

The corps of engineers is hiring more scientists for projects
such as Davis Pond, a signal that the fragmented parties are
beginning to work better together. Bahr would like to
integrate science and engineering further by requiring
independent scientific review of proposed Corps projects
before the state signed on--which Louisiana would need to do
because Congress would require the state to share the cost of
such work.

If Congress and President George W. Bush hear a unified call
for action, authorizing it would seem prudent. Restoring
coastal Louisiana would protect the country's seafood and
shipping industries and its oil and natural-gas supply. It
would also save America's largest wetlands, a bold
environmental stroke. And without action, the million people
outside New Orleans would have to relocate. The other million
inside the bowl would live at the bottom of a sinking crater,
surrounded by ever higher walls, trapped in a terminally ill
city dependent on nonstop pumping to keep it alive.

Funding the needed science and engineering would also unearth
better ways to save the country's vanishing wetlands and the
world's collapsing deltas. It would improve humankind's
understanding of nature's long-term processes--and the stakes
of interfering, even with good intentions. And it could help
governments learn how to minimize damage from rising seas, as
well as from violent weather, at a time when the U.S. National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts more storms of
greater intensity as a result of climate change.

Walter Maestri doesn't welcome that prospect. When Allison,
the first tropical storm of the 2001 hurricane season, dumped
five inches of rain a day on New Orleans for a week in June,
it nearly maxed out the pumping system. Maestri spent his
nights in a flood-proof command bunker built underground to
evade storm winds; from there he dispatched police, EMTs,
firefighters and National Guardsmen. It was only rain, yet it
stressed the response teams.

"Any significant water that comes into this city is a
dangerous threat," he says. "Even though I have to plan for
it, I don't even want to think about the loss of life a huge
hurricane would cause."

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