Landscape planning in hazardous zones, lessons from Hurricane Katrina, August 2005 Academic Article uri icon


  • Land planners operate under the assumption that good things can happen if we plan for them. Land planners are optimistic about the future. Hurricane Katrina changed that for land planners along the Gulf Coast of the southern United States. The consequences of the devastation showed everyone what can happen when natural disasters foil our plans for the future. The aftermath of Katrina was most destructive. In New Orleans, Louisiana, flood waters broke through the levee system. Widespread flooding covered most portions of the city leaving it in total chaos. The damage throughout the Gulf Coast left transportation corridors in ruin. Communication and power systems failed. Water supplies and food stores were rendered useless or inaccessible. Consequently government officials, rescue teams, medical services, and security people could not handle the needs of the survivors trapped in the area. Almost immediately the media began reporting the chaos. Soon after there was much finger pointing, blaming and hindsight logic offered in a never-ending stream of acrimonious indignation to anyone who would listen. Some of this behavior is understandable. A year later, however, the carping continues. It is time for more reasonable thinking and action to take place. We need to make some sense out of this tragedy and convert our dissatisfaction and frustration into constructive thinking. We must look deeper into the problem to gain a more significant understanding of what went wrong and how we can plan better in the future. The land planning aspects of both the recovery and continued development of the region need to be reconsidered. The following discussion offers the reader three proposals for modifying how we might plan better. (I) Planning for recovery and sustainable growth speaks to the need to upgrade our land planning conventions. (II) Regional landscape sustainability addresses the need to reorganize the scale and emphasis of future development plans. (III) Spatial solutions concepts are reviewed as a possible means to integrate landscape ecology theory in future planning for the natural landscape and the people who will live in this region. 2006.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Rodiek, J.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Rodiek, Jon

publication date

  • January 2007