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As noted previously, initial reports suggested that Katrina made landfall as a storm with a severity and a path that numerous experts repeatedly had warned would someday strike the city with catastrophic results, a storm that simply overwhelmed the design standard of the LPVHPP and other New Orleans area levee systems.
At the heart of the LPVHPP and most other Army Corps hurricane protection projects since the 1960s has been a technical model known as the standard project hurricane (SPH).
(157) Similarly, when a massive Mississippi River flood in 1927 killed several hundred individuals, displaced over five hundred thousand, and destroyed property worth some $3 billion (in 1993 dollars), (158) Congress and the Corps developed an especially robust Mississippi River flood protection system that was designed to withstand an 800-year flood, some five hundred years more forward-looking than the LPVHPP. (159) By most reports, the Mississippi River system performed extremely well during Hurricane Katrina despite storm surges that reached 15 to 20 feet along river stretches below New Orleans.
The history of the LPVHPP planning process, however, suggests that the cost-benefit requirement may have had undesirable distortionary effects on Corps decisionmaking.
(172) Indeed, a key aspect of the local opposition to the LPVHPP centered on the question of whether the Corps had gone beyond protecting existing and anticipated land developments to actively promoting new development that would not have occurred but for the Corps' activities.
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