But will Katrina and Rita change the way Americans think about even larger questions? The storms, like the 1927 flood, ripped open the fabric hiding some of the most disquieting parts of American society. It made George W. Bush sound almost like a liberal Democrat when he spoke of the "legacy of inequality" and said "poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action."
If it is too early to tell what the largest long-term effects of these hurricanes will be, clearly it has rekindled the debate, begun during the flood of 1927, over the federal government’s responsibility to citizens.