Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a fast-moving Category 3 storm. Thereafter, 85 percent of Greater New Orleans was flooded, 1,500 lives were lost, and approximately 100,000 were left homeless. New Orleans’ hurricane protection system failed catastrophically, leaving miles of levees without protection from waves. With global warming accelerating, smarter planning is needed for many coastal cities and communities. Surge defenses that make full use of natural and man-made components need to be augmented with sustainable development and retreat from low-lying coastal regions. Coastal restoration is the key to the future habitation of southeast Louisiana, together with an east–west levee/surge protection system across the mid-coast. This latter system must be complimented and protected by aggressive coastal wetland and barrier island restoration.