This brief opinion piece is about as well said as I’ve seen it said.
From the Los Angeles Times
Needed: A 50-year flood plan
By Robert Bea
August 27, 2007
After two years, there's a lack coherent vision on how to provide adequate flood protection. The Army Corps of Engineers is doing 5,000 different things, one of which is flood protection. The state is even more muddled. You don't have modern technology; the quality is not what you would call world-class.
Money has been coming in dribs and drabs. Billions of dollars is big, but before you get adequate flood protection for New Orleans, you better start thinking about $50 billion to $100 billion, and 50 to 100 years to do it. The Netherlands had its Katrina in 1953, and it is still developing its system. It has expended about $50 billion. You don't have to be a professor to get it.
But we can see some strides going forward. Local citizens who want protection are now involved in getting that protection. There's a recognition that flood protection is not just a New Orleans problem, it's a national problem, it's a problem in our own Sacramento Delta; it extends to Kansas, Chicago. We've been watching it unfold across the U.S. last week.
Flood protection is just like a roof on someone's home. You need to depend on it to establish a modern society that can flourish and can be happy.
Robert Bea, an engineering professor at UC Berkeley, co-authored a 2006 study that found that New Orleans' levees, even after planned repairs, were unlikely to withstand another Katrina.