New Orleans

New Orleans is another coastal city–like Miami, San Francisco, and New York–that has lived in close interaction with its natural surroundings, in its case the Louisiana bayou for centuries. With Lake Ponchartrain to the north and the mouth of the Mississippi River to the south, the mouth of this mighty river, and these spreading square miles of bayou make for a landscape that is as beautiful as it is mysterious and hard to control.

Not the usual tourist postcard view of New Orleans, here is proof–if it was ever needed–that much of this great city by the Gulf lies below sea-level (above). The devastating Flood of 2005 left countless residents homeless and far too many dead; even a decade later the death toll is listed as 1,200-1,800. Many bodies were counted more than once; many people have never been recovered and counted. Like a number of global natural disasters over the years, the accurate death-toll may never be known. Such is the result of an uncontrolled and uncontrollable natural interaction with a major urban space: the dark-side of urbanature.

[Even as modern a structure as an urban superhighway exit and entrance is no match at all for a force like Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the Mississippi River basin. FEMA]

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