Debate continues on how to safeguard America's energy infrastructure.
Richard Stavros is Fortnightly's Executive Editor.
It has been an unimaginable human tragedy on every score. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina hundreds of lives were lost, the city of New Orleans was decimated, the Gulf Coast ravaged, and major portions of our nation’s energy infrastructure left in tatters. The central question: Could any of this have been avoided?
According to a study by the Rand Corp. from 2003 (Assessing Federal Research and Development for Hazard Loss Reduction), the United States has seen a decline recently in the number of lives lost to natural disasters (volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, etc.). Rand attributes building code improvements and efforts to sustain infrastructure with reducing the number of lives lost due to natural disasters.
Yet at the same time, Rand found (citing GAO numbers) that financial damage has grown: “Between 1978 and 1989, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster relief fund expenditures totaled about $7 billion. In the next dozen years, however, that number increased almost fivefold, to over $39 billion.”
And these costs include repairs to utility systems.