New Orleans' Levees: Background information when reading Five Days at Memorial

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Five Days at Memorial

Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

by Sheri Fink

Five Days at Memorial
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2013, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 592 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky

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Beyond the Book:
New Orleans' Levees

Though Hurricane Katrina did strike a mighty blow, it was only part of the catastrophe that befell New Orleans. As Sheri Fink writes in Five Days at Memorial, "Katrina rapidly lost strength after moving onto land. The rain lessened and the winds began to ease by late morning. The water level outside Memorial stabilized at about three feet."

Lake PontchartrainDuring the squalls of the hurricane on Monday August 29, 2005, water raced down Clara Street (Memorial's location) and "a red car and a red van were submerged to the tops of their wheel wells," but the hospital seemed free from disaster. Then a National Guard soldier informed Memorial's plant operations director that the levees had been breached. Fifteen feet of water from Lake Pontchartrain was heading for the hospital.

According to NPR reporter John F. Burnett, in his book Uncivilized Beasts and Shameless Hellions: Travels with an NPR Correspondent (2006), New Orleans was founded in 1718, built on "alluvial silt next to the Mississippi, 4.4 ...

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