Friday, September 02, 2005


Slate asks, "Did we learn anything from Chicago?"
Sept. 11 was an epochal event in American culture, so it's no surprise that it's everyone's favorite comparison to the destruction of New Orleans. But the more instructive analog is another great urban catastrophe in recent American history: The 1995 Chicago heat wave, when a blend of extreme weather, political mismanagement, and abandonment of vulnerable city residents resulted in the loss of water, widespread power outages, thousands of hospitalizations, and 739 deaths in a devastating week.

This summer is the heat wave's 10th anniversary. Yet the event has been largely forgotten as government agencies charged with protecting Americans from disasters have ignored the lessons it offered — and people are dying on the Gulf Coast as a result.


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