Oregon lawmaker warned of danger faced by New Orleans

For years, Louisiana lawmakers have warned of a possible flooding disaster in New Orleans.

But one of the most outspoken legislators on preparing the city for a storm like Hurricane Katrina was a Democrat from Oregon.

Earlier this year, Rep. Earl Blumenauer delivered a speech on the House floor that drew parallels between the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia and the vulnerability of New Orleans.

Blumenauer’s predictions of a catastrophe came true as Katrina flooded New Orleans, leading to a death toll that is expected to climb into the thousands.

On Jan. 26, Blumenauer said a hurricane hitting New Orleans would lead to a “30-foot wall of water hitting the city, causing thousands of deaths and $100 billion in damage.”

He added, “The experience of Southeast Asia should convince us all of the urgent need for congressional action. … Prevention and planning will pay off. Maybe the devastation will encourage us to act before disaster strikes.”

In a Sept. 15, 2004, floor speech, Blumenauer said damage inflicted by a hurricane “might represent the loss of the city of New Orleans. … Now is the time to deal with policies that will make a difference protecting people.”

Bob Cusack