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Tierney on New Orleans

John Tierney’s New York Times column today is a must-read for anyone who cares to understand more deeply one source of New Orleans’s devastation.  Here’s his opening:

Why is New Orleans in so much worse shape today than New York City was after the attacks on Sept. 11?

The short answer is that New York was attacked by fire, not water. But then why are urbanites so much better prepared to cope with fire than with flooding? Mostly because they learned to fight fire without any help from the Army Corps of Engineers or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.