The report released in August by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force would sound very familiar to any Southeast Louisiana resident who picks it up. The opening letter from task force chairman Shaun Donovan, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, could be describing the post-Katrina aftermath here in 2005:
"Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast with incredible power and fury, wreaking havoc in communities across the region. Entire neighborhoods were flooded. Families lost their homes.
Businesses were destroyed. Infrastructure was torn apart."
The difference is that flooding here was due to levee breaches, and there it was from surge that swamped coastal communities and pushed a wall of water inland. Thankfully, far fewer people died last October in New York and New Jersey than did in Katrina.
But most of those who died in Sandy drowned and many of the victims were elderly, as in Katrina.
The benefit of the similarities is that Sandy has brought new attention to the issue of rising sea level and eroding coastlines. The rapid disappearance of Louisiana's coast is among this region's most pressing concerns, but it hasn't been viewed with the same urgency elsewhere.
Sandy and Hurricane Isaac, which hit Louisiana a year ago, were both signs of what is likely to come: sprawling storms carrying huge amounts of water; storms that can do extensive damage even without the frenzied winds of a storm like Hurricane Camille.