President George W. Bush once asked him, “Will the people in New Orleans be safe?”

Updated: Jul 10


Before Don Riley joined our team in 2011, he had a remarkable 37-year career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Don was Deputy Commanding General, Deputy Chief of Engineers, Commanding General of the Mississippi Valley Division and Director of Army, Civil Works.


Recently John Schwartz, the respected New York Times science writer, interviewed Don to get his perspective on government responses to natural disasters. Schwartz’s article appears in today’s edition and it includes several comments from Don.


An excerpt:

[Riley] recalled that, as the work proceeded to rebuild the fortifications around New Orleans, President George W. Bush once asked him, “Will the people in New Orleans be safe?”


His answer, as he recalled it, was “They should be a lot safer,” but added that there is no such thing as complete safety, which is why the corps changed the language of the city’s hurricane defense from Hurricane Protection System to the unwieldy but more honest Hurricane & Storm Damage Risk Reduction System.


Well done, Don!



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