It was bound to happen. The scenario had been researched, rehearsed, and replayed over and over again among emergency managers. It was just a matter of when and where the major hurricane would strike a large American city. Two specific scenarios had been considered—a major hurricane with 20 foot plus storm surge inundation affecting the Gulf Coast region or a hurricane-induced levee failure in New Orleans. Both captured the imagination of emergency planners designing training scenarios. Hurricane Pam, the fictional FEMA-funded emergency exercise for federal, state, and local officials in Louisiana, encapsulated both scenarios. Hurricane Katrina played them out in real time.
Cutter, Susan L. 2005. "The Geography of Social Vulnerability: Race, Class, and Catastrophe." In Understanding Katrina: Perspectives from the Social Sciences. New York, NY: Social Science Research Council. (September): http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Cutter/