Hurricane Katrina – the massive Category Five storm which recently hit New Orleans – could not have been prevented.
But the scale of destruction, the enormous misery, and the vast numbers of deaths could have been stopped. The scale of the horror has its roots in the cost-cutting and penny-pinching of US capitalism.
Not enough money was spent on flood defence to protect New Orleans. And from 2003 onwards, the Bush administration cut funds for flood defence amid charges from the Army Corps of Engineers that the money was transferred to fight the war in Iraq instead.
Thousands of people have died and millions have lost homes, property and jobs. This was completely unnecessary.
Now President George Bush faces a backlash. The TV news has shown scenes of thousands of suffering Americans stranded, bedraggled and left without help.
The US media has criticised an inadequate evacuation plan and a relief effort hampered by lack of planning, supplies and manpower, and a breakdown in communications of the most basic sort.
The people suffering the consequences are overwhelmingly poor and black. These people were too poor to leave before the storm hit.
Official figures suggest that around one quarter of New Orleans population live in poverty. Of these people 85% are black.
Now the question is what political conclusions will be drawn. Bush’s Republicans, and the Democrats who ruled before them, are organisations which represent the US rich. They preside over vast inequality and persistent, deep-running racism.