Joel K. Bourne, Jr. “New Orleans: A Perilous Future”. National Geographic. August 2007 – the city’s defenses are down. Despite having spent a billion dollars already, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now estimates it will take until after 2010 to strengthen the levee system enough to withstand a 1-in-100-year storm, roughly the size of Category 3 Katrina. It would take decades more to protect the Big Easy from the truly Big One, a Category 4 or 5—if engineers can agree on how to do that and if Congress agrees to foot the almost unimaginable bill. For now, even a modest, Category 2 storm could reflood the city.
The long odds led Robert Giegengack, a geologist at the University of Pennsylvania, to tell policymakers a few months after the storm that the wealthiest, most technologically advanced nation on the globe was helpless to prevent another Katrina: “We simply lack the capacity to protect New Orleans.” He recommended selling the French Quarter to Disney, moving the port 150 miles (240 kilometers) upstream, and abandoning one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in the nation.