As fall begins, those of us at Catholic Relief Services headquarters can look over an eventful end to a summer that brought us everything from an earthquake that rattled our building to hurricanes that drenched us and forced even the smallest of streams over their banks. This all came as we marked anniversaries in this country: 5 years since Hurricane Katrina and 10 years since the attacks of September 11.
As I watched the rising waters here and throughout the East, my thoughts returned to Katrina. I could not help asking a simple question: What if the levees had held?
Certainly, Katrina would still have been a powerful hurricane, producing extensive damage and disrupting many lives—perhaps tragically losing some. But it would have been nothing like the devastation in New Orleans 5 years ago.
I had other questions: What if security services had caught the 9/11 hijackers long before they boarded an aircraft? What if the buildings in Haiti had been built to codes that kept them from collapsing in the 2010 earthquake?