Safer than Miami? Check.

Don’t bust out the flashlight and canned food just yet- Austin is ranked as (just) the 20th least-susceptible-to-natural-disaster city, according to SustainLanes study of Cities in Harms Way. Yes, we are now scientifically proven to be safer than cities like New Orleans (no way, really?) and our good friend (ha!) and close neighbor Houston.

While being wedged between Kansas City and Omaha as one of the least likely cities to be destroyed by hurricanes, earthquakes and other catastrophic disasters is a relatively comforting thought, our rank on the Sustainability list is somewhat sobering.

Coming in at number 14, Austin is considered marginally more sustainable (sustainability being defined as commitments to public health, strong local economies, and good citizens and public officials who work their asses off to make the city a great place) than Honolulu, Milwaukee and San Diego.

Its no surprise that Portland, the land of recycled everything and more hybrid cars than you can shake your all-natural organic stick at, ranked as Numero Uno…but Austin was still out-sustained by major US players like Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.

Come on Austin, bust out your reusable Whole Foods canvas shopping bags, ride your bike a bit more, pick up the empty chicken McNugget box on the side of the road, show up to city council meetings and lets top the charts next go around.

7 Comments so far

  1. Catherine (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

    I’m really not trying to start anything here but had to respond as a displaced New Orleanian….we survived the natural disaster, we did not survive the Army Corps of Engineers. Just wanted to point that out…. Cheers!

  2. Julio (unregistered) on September 5th, 2006 @ 4:55 pm

    Oh lord, here we go… How convenient it is to blame everything that went wrong during Katrina on the US Army Corps of Engineers. The pump station failures in New Orleans? That was S&WB. The flooding in Jefferson Parish? Totally Aaron Broussard’s fault. And don’t even get me started on the city’s disaster planning. Yes, the feds screwed up royally, but there is plenty of blame to go around. The city survived Katrina, but will it survive Nagin’s ineptitude and indecisiveness?

  3. Catherine (unregistered) on September 6th, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    Dearest Julio –
    Thanks for the great response…you obviously have all the answers. If only you were in charge we would all be in a better place…or not.

    The fact remains that the Corps supposedly built the levees to withstand a Cat 3 storm and they barely survived a Cat 1-2, which was what Katrina was by the time it was in the lake. The city was dry, for the most part, right after the storm and would have remained so had the levees held.

  4. Julio (unregistered) on September 6th, 2006 @ 11:05 am

    Catherine, you must believe anything Chris Rose tells you. The levees were compromised by a Category 5 storm surge, not a Category 2 hurricane. Read the report:

  5. Catherine (unregistered) on September 7th, 2006 @ 5:03 pm

    Although I enjoy Chris Rose, I don’t rely on him for scientific data. I am a researcher and my husband is a geologist so we know how to compile hard data rather than anecdotal evidence. In the ACE report, I didn’t find any direct quote that stated that Katrina was a Cat 5. But I did find these facts in just the introduction:

    The System did not perform as a system: the hurricane protection in New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana was a system in name only. (page I-3)

    And this:
    The duration of flooding could have been
    reduced if the pumping capability had been able to continue, but the pumping systems were not designed to operate in severe hurricane conditions. (page I-4)

    I did misstate the strength of the storm at landfall (as did you), but you also must consider that Katrina made landfall in Buras at approximately 6:30 am, and once it hit land began to slow down almost immediately.
    Katrina (a Category 3 storm at landfall) generated substantially higher surges than Camille (a Category 5 storm at landfall) in the area where they both made a direct hit. (that would be in Mississippi, Camille did not affect New Orleans in the same manner – my additions) (page I-21)

    Finally, you have to admit that the ACE took responsibility for the levee breaches, in the very report you provided the link to.
    This is a link to the adcirc model, which is used by the ACE and provides excellent data regarding surges. Check it out…

    I wish I had time to read the whole thing and go over each detail with you, but due to job, family and rebuilding constraints, I do not have that luxury.

    All the best,

  6. Julio (unregistered) on September 8th, 2006 @ 5:59 pm

    I said the storm surge was Cat 5, not the hurricane itself. Go back and reread my post, then read the part of the report pertaining to the storm surge, and then quit whining.

  7. Catherine (unregistered) on September 10th, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

    Why don’t you reread my post and the ACE report where they admitted their role in the failure of the levees. I don’t really understand why you choose to defend the Corps when they’ve already stated their guilt. A review of your previous posts on various metroblogs demonstrates your inclination to be a pretentious curmudgeon and a pattern of attempting to shut down posters you disagree with. Nice strategy but you may want to mix it up every now and again.

    I’m not a whiner, sweetheart, I’m looking to assist others, especially those who are not from New Orleans, understand the role of the Corps in the flooding of New Orleans, which included my home, my neighborhood and my city. I hope you never have to experience what my family has in the past year. If you haven’t been to New Orleans since the storm, I suggest a visit so you can see with your own eyes the damage visited upon our city and witness the grassroots efforts to return to normalcy. Things look a lot different in person as compared to that view from a 15 inch computer monitor. Reality – give it a try!

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