Hurricane Harvey: A Disaster That Was Readily Avoidable

All the recent so-called natural disasters in the United States could have been avoided for a cost far below what is/was needed to rebuild. But the “Wall Street system” prohibits investments in infrastructure. That issue was addressed by the LaRouche Political Action Committee in an Aug. 31 statement, excerpted below.

The catastrophe in Texas is a man-made disaster accomplished by the criminal negligence of this nation’s elected officials, who have continued to support Wall Street’s speculative economy and imperial ambitions while arguing that the nation cannot afford to rebuild and replace its ancient and broken-down economic infrastructure…. Hurricane Harvey now looms as the worst national disaster in our nation’s history and it is a disaster which did not have to happen.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 people and wreaked $130 billion in economic losses. Only then, slowly, new flood-control and seagate infrastructure was built — at last — for New Orleans, at a fraction of the human and monetary costs of the damage inflicted by the storm. How many unnecessary deaths and suffering could this project have averted?

Four years later, the American Society of Civil Engineers met in Manhattan to discuss several storm surge barrier options for the New York City region. The estimate for the largest of these was $9 billion. The government decided to do nothing. Then, in 2012, Superstorm Sandy killed more than 100 people and caused $65 billion in economic losses. New York area residents now are going through a “Summer of Hell” as the 100-year-old regional transportation system, flooded and damaged five years ago, also was not repaired or replaced at the necessary pace.

The staggering economic and human suffering caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Texas and Louisiana Gulf region are not yet known, and will grow in magnitude as the water recedes; but, what has been known for many years, is that Texas Gulf cities are flood-prone, and have repeatedly flooded. Yet, no flood control or storm protection infrastructure has been built since the end of World War II. Plans for a new system for the Houston area had been drafted, but their $25 billion cost was deemed “too high” a price tag for our Wall Street-dominated agencies and elected officials. Now, hundreds of billions of dollars, and priceless human lives, are lost.

All of these disasters, and others in the recent period, could have been averted for a fraction of their eventual cost in lost wealth, let alone in lost lives. The media insist to Americans that each city’s disaster is caused by its particular economic habits, its choice of location, its squabbling jurisdictions, its ignoring of climate change, or its being close to water! This is nonsense. Wall Street, which has been bailed out repeatedly to the tune of trillions of dollars, with nothing but increased impoverishment of the American people to show for it, must no longer be allowed to dictate the economic policy of the United States of America.

The LaRouche PAC statement goes on to call for an action plan including breaking up the Wall Street banks, creating national credit institutions, and cooperating on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. It can be read in full here.