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The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina--The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist
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The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina--The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  123 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The ultimate inside story of the Katrina tragedy?from the cofounder of the LSU Hurricane Center
After warning for years about the looming threat of catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, Ivor van Heerden was one of the highest-profile media experts during the Katrina disaster. Over the following eighteen months, he was even more prominent as he challenged the official vers
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 2006)
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Jeff Jellets
One man’s view of what when wrong during Hurricane Katrina.

Since I work in emergency management, I try to read just about anything I can that relates to disasters and disaster response operations. To quote (the oft misquoted) George Santayana, “"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and it seems we have spent a good deal of time dulling our senses to the causes of disaster events and the lessons learned in responding to them. Hurricane Katrina is perhaps the modern bell
Chrystall Jenkins
After a while it’s difficult to tell if this was supposed to be a book of him Van Heerdan venting or if he forgot to warn readers they’d be fishing through his flood of opinions for facts.
Tara Gulwell
The prose is a little on the dry side, but van Heerden provides highly informative analysis on the political climate of the time (local, state and federal) and scientific knowledge. The sections discussing the science of levees and the history of FEMA/federal structures for disaster management were particularly good.

Overall, not the best book written on Katrina by far, but not bad. If you're a reader who has a particular aversion to biased authors I wouldn't recommend this book.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in disasters

This was the first book I read that was specifically about Hurricane Katrina and its impact on New Orleans. I have done extensive research in the area as I have a bachelor's degree in Public Safety Administration-Emergency Management, just about completed emergency management certificate and Advanced Professional Certificate from FEMA. My job falls in the category of first responder.

The Good
This was an excellent accounting of how things were going on behind the scenes by first h
Todd Stockslager
Review title: If it don't stop raining, the levee going to break
This old blues line pretty much sums up van Heerden's scientific conclusion about the primary source of the flood's damage. He writes with the passion of an angry man still in the midst of the circumstances that have raised his ire. He also write from his expertise in coastal geology and disaster preparation and management.

The disaster, he argues vociferously, was not natural (Katrina was a Cat 3 storm by the time it hit the city,
Tim Richardson
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book and very informative but I have taken away a star because the author displayed a tendency toward being self-aggrandizing and subjective at times. Considering that the author is a professional hurricane scientist, perhaps he should have brought his political cards closer to his vest and taken his heart a little bit off his sleeve.

The exhibition of these instincts are understandable, though, given the subject material; it's just that scientists are expected to be more objective
Jul 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: policy makers
From a scientist's point of view, the story of Hurricane Katrina is told. Lays out the science of a storm and hurricane and helps the reader to understand how levees work and fail. Very heavily against the work of the Corps of Engineers and politics-as-usual in Louisiana, and gives some brief modern history of both. The writing is no so conventional in that Heernden is not a writer, per se, but a scientist who is writing as he likely talks. As such he goes off on tangents and leads the reader aw ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

There have been a lot of books written about Katrina..the natural disaster. This shows why the devastation did not have to happen, and does not have to happen again.Katrina was forseable .If we only implemented sound scientific , engineering, and enviornmental advice, there still would have been a hurricane, but not the loss of a major American city. The inadeqate levees were not built to standard in the first place, ageing, and sinking, and people were ringing alarm bells before Katrina. It is
Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book starts out great and deteriorates quickly into a rant that is one part legitimate scientific outrage and one part hype-sensitive outraged ego. The early parts recounting both Van Heerden’s early life and the parallel description of the Katrina advent, arrival, and aftermath are outstanding reading. Then it gets petty, repetitive, bitter but self-serving. The descriptions, supported by informative hand-drawn diagrams, about why the flooding happened, why the levees failed, and what the ...more
Gary Decossas
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody it is a must read!
This book is the epitome of the science behind why Hurricane Katrina was so devastating to New Orleans and the parishes of St.Bernard and Plaquemines. By far this is the best book that I have ever read. Ivor van Heedan is a great scientist at the LSU Hurricane Center. He and other scientist like Hassan Mashriqui (storm surge wizard) helped solve the important question of why the levees broke in Orleans, St.Bernard, and Plaquemines parish. He goes in great depth of how the Army Corps of Engineers ...more
Marty Greenwell
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting that this book didn't cause more of a stir. This LSU scientist accuses the federal government of causing the deaths of 1300+ people in New Orleans, by improperly designing the levees and not protecting the barrier islands. It showed the ineptness of FEMA in their attempts ( if they can be called that ) at rescuing the residents and The Army Corp of Engineers of improperly building the levees. Tough book because you know it won't change based on the politics of trying to have our repr ...more
Elizabeth Renton
Apr 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who loves new orleans
This was a fantastic book by a scientist at LSU who has been studying the diminishing Louisiana coast for decades. He explains what happened during Katrina, and why, from an insider's perspective with scientific research to back it up. It's very clear and easy to read, not a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo. He had been telling everyone who would listen what would happen if a Cat. 5 storm came to Louisiana, and everything he predicted was correct. It makes such common sense, you wonder how Louisi ...more
Dec 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in public affairs
The Storm is a suspenseful, detailed account of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, written by Ivor van Heerden, Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, and co-author Mike Bryan. Recommended for its insights into the often contentious interactions of scientists and politicians, and for the abundance of evidence it offers to show that the loss of New Orleans, far from being the outcome of a natural disaster, was the result of human negligence.
The scariest part of this book is that the main lessons STILL aren't being heard. When was the last time you heard anybody say that the barrier islands need to be restored, in order to protect the wetlands? And what's the odds that the same neglect is happening in your neck of the woods, if (as is likely), you live near a seashore?
More like 2.5 stars.

Passionately, if not hurriedly, written...possibly to beat the publication of the official findings of other entities...but otherwise gets its point across.
Poor graphics (hand sketches by the author) & very few citations (the author's spiel on this can be summarized by the phrase, "just f*ckin' google it") somewhat weaken things.
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very telling account by an LSU scientist whose job for several years before Katrina was to assess Louisiana's state of readiness for just such an emergency. He tells us what was known--and ignored--by politicians and the Army Corps of Engineers, that could have saved thousands of lives and livelihoods. He also outlines what needs to be done now to avert similar disasters in the future.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was refreshing to hear about Katrina from a scientist's perspective. Not only did he explain the wetlands and levee situations which he was qualified to speak about he used his scientific thinking to analyze the political mess that caused the tragedy in the first place. I work for the federal government and can concur with most of his analysis.
May 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is very sad how the problems were predicted and yet ignored. I wish it had a little more about the actual storm and less about the various committees he is on.
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was there, I am still there....and everything this man wrote about is true. If you have not read this you can't understand why Katrina was a man made event, and not just a natural disaster.

Matt Bumgardner
Started out strong and then devolved into a textbook (and a bad one at that). Some may like it, not my bag.
Isaac Hobbs
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though inside look at the forecasting and predicting of Katrina is fascinating.
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good information, if told a bit breathlessly and with a few too many exclamation points. Sort of a rough diamond in a rough setting.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Well-written with clear explanations of technical details. A good choice for a general audience looking for a comprehensive explanation of what happened during Katrina.
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty great. I read it for a research paper I was writing for my environmental studies class and it gave a lot of great information from a first-hand perspective and eyewitness.
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