There is supposedly a Chinese tradition that floods and disasters are the test of an emperor. Even god kings aren't expected to prevent natural disasters, but they are expected to respond agressively and appropriately.
I not a big David Brooks fan, but he has this nice column in a related vein tomorrow.
Floods wash away the surface of society, the settled way things have been done. They expose the underlying power structures, the injustices, the patterns of corruption and the unacknowledged inequalities. When you look back over the meteorological turbulence in this nation's history, it's striking how often political turbulence followed.He presents concise descriptions of some historical examples, and concludes with this:
Civic arrangements work or they fail. Leaders are found worthy or wanting. What's happening in New Orleans and Mississippi today is a human tragedy. But take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.