Document Type

Book Chapter


The persistent question this book raises is who should decide whether and how to mitigate the damages caused by natural disasters. Our understandable preoccupation with response, recovery, and rebuilding makes it hard to focus on this question as a central, even relevant, one. But it persists, nonetheless. The high-profile “blame game” played following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of the Gulf Coast is emblematic. In pointing fingers first at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), then at the city of New Orleans, and then at the state of Louisiana, public officials exhibited an appalling lack of understanding of the roles that each sector and level of government should play.