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September 5, 2007

New Orleans, Katrina, and the Death and Life of Cities

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Golub ( is Senior Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2007;298(9):1062-1063. doi:10.1001/jama.298.9.1062

What is the city but the people?
William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, Act 3, scene 1

This issue of JAMA marks the second anniversary of the devastation of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina—not only the largest national disaster but also arguably the largest humanitarian and political disaster to befall a major US city. On Sunday, August 29, 2005, the eye of the hurricane passed to the east of New Orleans. While on the following day most of the residents (those who remained in the city and those who evacuated) were breathing a sigh of relief that damage appeared minimal, the city was rapidly filling with water through multiple levee breaches. By Tuesday, 80% of the city was under water.

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