Engineering the Disaster: A Discussion of Trends in Natural Hazard Management Using Case Studies of New Orleans, Louisiana and Galveston Island, Texas
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Natural hazard management is the field of study that focuses on a wide variety of hazards, disasters, and how humans react to and mitigate these events. The main goals of hazard management include damage mitigation, disaster prevention, and ensuring the safety of those at risk. Humans tend to develop communities where resources are rich, but the surrounding environment can pose many hazards unknown or under estimated by these settlers. In response to unsustainable development, extensive engineering has been done to the surrounding landscape. This engineering can mitigate the effects of storm surge, extensive flooding, and subsidence, but often at the expense of the surrounding ecosystem. Furthermore, these technological fixes are rarely permanent solutions, and often require more extensive engineering measures as cities expand and risk increases. This study uses case studies of New Orleans, Louisiana and Galveston Island, Texas to examine how their structural mitigation has impacted their vulnerability and resilience in the event of natural disasters- primarily major hurricanes. New Orleans developed an extensive levee system that failed during Hurricane Katrina and led to widespread flooding and deaths, while Galveston constructed a seawall in response to the hurricane of 1900 that has increased the barrier islands vulnerability to disasters in the future. This research concluded that these engineered structures are short term solutions to complex environmental problems, and a multi-pronged and environmentally conscious approach would potentially benefit both cities.