"[A]s geographer Richard Campanella makes plain in his new book, Delta Urbanism: New Orleans, the immediate catastrophe - the one that could not be ignored, that attracted international attention and inspired relief efforts and planning proposals and federal promises - has given way to the slow-building potential for future catastrophe - one that seems all too easy to ignore. For the underlying conditions that caused the devastation remain much the same. Not only are the flood-protection systems that have been constructed to protect the low-lying city pathetically inadequate - "under-engineered, cavalierly inspected and poorly maintained," in Campanella's words; still more, a century of intensive environmental manipulation has neutralized or destroyed the natural systems - the coastal wetlands, barrier islands, etc. - that would buffer the effects of seasonal storms and cyclical flooding."
Campanella documents the days leading up to the flooding and how human interference with the area's delta environment enabled the destruction.