A couple questions from The National Review:
Where are all of the Hollywood celebrities holding telethons asking for help in restoring Iowa and helping the folks affected by the floods? Where is all the media asking the tough questions about why the federal government hasn't solved the problem? Asking where the FEMA trucks (and trailers) are? Why isn't the Federal Government relocating Iowa people to free hotels in Chicago? When will Spike Lee say that the Federal Government blew up the levees that failed in Des Moines? Where are Sean Penn and the Dixie Chicks? Where are all the looters stealing high-end tennis shoes and big screen television sets? When will we hear Governor Chet Culver say that he wants to rebuild a 'vanilla' Iowa, because that's the way God wants it? Where is the hysterical 24/7 media coverage complete with reports of cannibalism? Where are the people declaring that George Bush hates white, rural people? How come in 2 weeks, you will never hear about the Iowa flooding ever again?
So, I did some research to find out. Here's what I found, Iowa first:
Preliminary damage estimates from the June 2008 Midwest flood puts agricultural damage in Iowa alone at $1.0 billion. At least another $1.0 billion in property damage has likely occurred--$762 million of that in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The price tag is sure to grow, as many locations downstream are facing record flood heights this week.
Levee overtopping is possible in at least 28 locations along the Mississippi River and its tributaries in the coming days, according to the Army Corp of Engineers. This year's flooding is one of the ten most damaging non-hurricane flood events in the U.S. since 1980, according to the list of billion dollar weather disasters maintained by the National Climatic Data Center.
At least three deaths in Iowa have been attributed to the storms and subsequent flooding, and 12 more people have died in two recent tornadoes.
The damage from this year's flood will not come close to the record $26.7 billion in damage from the catastrophic 1993 flood, though.
And here's New Orleans/Katrina:
Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record that made landfall in the United States.
The storm surge caused severe damage along the Gulf Coast, devastating the Mississippi cities of Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point, and Pascagoula. In Louisiana, the federal flood protection system in New Orleans failed in more than fifty places. Nearly every levee in metro New Orleans breached as Hurricane Katrina passed east of the city, subsequently flooding 80% of the city and many areas of neighboring parishes for weeks.
Ninety percent of the residents of southeast Louisiana were evacuated in the most successful evacuation of a major urban area in the nation's history. Despite this, many remained (mainly the elderly and poor).
At least 1,836 people lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina and in the subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.
The storm is estimated to have been responsible for $81.2 billion (2005 U.S. dollars) in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.
The catastrophic failure of the flood protection in New Orleans prompted immediate review of the Army Corps of Engineers, which has, by congressional mandate, sole responsibility for design and construction of the flood protection and levee systems. There was also widespread criticism of the federal, state and local governments' reaction to the storm, which resulted in an investigation by the U.S. Congress, and the resignation of Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael D. Brown. Conversely, the National Hurricane Center and National Weather Service were widely commended for accurate forecasts and abundant lead time.
So I guess the answer is that floods down the Mississippi are terrible events and deserve to be examined in light of other floods down the Mississippi, and not compared to the devastation that occurred in and around New Orleans at the time of Katrina. These two disasters are incomparible.