Any suggestions on what sort of culture makes it more likely?
I obviously should have posted this earlier, but Katrina is a disaster that dwarfs 9/11. After 9/11, it occurred to me that any disaster where you can get a pretty accurate count of the dead is only a medium-sized disaster. This isn't intended to insult or attack those who lost loved ones (or even liked ones) in 9/11, nor those who felt that their city had taken serious damage and mourned the specific losses, nor even my past self who spent about three months paralyzedly listening to NPR and reading rec.arts.sf.fandom. Part of what snagged me then was thinking that 9/11 wasn't that bad as historical events go, but no one else seemed to know it. At the time, I realized that having a basically intact infrastructure made things a lot better, but I didn't think about the implications of it being office buildings and not including where people lived.
The only good thing about Katrina is that no one is likely to start a war over it.
I wish I'd appreciated the 90s more when I was living through them. I was very pleased that the cold war was over, and I was more hopeful about the fall of the USSR than I should have been (it's still impressive that there's hsbeen so little war in the region), but that combination of peace and economic boom was even better than I noticed.
Speaking of economics, anyone have information on the effects of big disasters? The dotcom bust was a combination of losing imaginary money + wasted investment. Big losses of what was already there seems like a whole 'nother thing.