Time for the Tough Questions?
I have to begin this post by saying that my heart goes out to all who have lost family, life, limb, liberty and property in the horrific catastropy that was Katrina. This storm is having and will continue to have far-reaching effects that most of us haven't even begun to consider.
One of the bulletin boards that I read has brought up a couple of considerations - one thing we need to remember is that EVERY RESCUER who subjects him/herself to the stagnant contaminated water in these areas may themselves turn out to be victim to hurricane Katrina as well.
The tough question, as I see it,is SHOULD New Orleans, as it was, be rebuilt? I never had the opportunity to visit the fair city - have only read of it and seen pictures. New Orleans, sitting 8 feet below sea level is the only coastal city whose elevation is in the negative numbers. In the 19th century, New Orleans was firmly established as a major shipping port - this during a time when trade via steamboats was the easiest and most convenient method of transporting goods. By the 20th century, however, steamboats were unable to compete with the railroads.
While New Orleans has been graced with a rich and fascinating history, seemingly at least, a portion of New Orleans has in the last few years degenerated into a celebration of some of the baser elements of a "civil" society. The current situation of widespread looting, taking advantage of a bad situation to make it worse, seems to validate this point as this type of situation was not seen to this degree even after 9/11 in New York City. For an interesting read, check out The Compact of Civil Societies from the RightWing NutHouse, H/T to Below the Beltway.
The damage, at the point of writing appears to cover in excess of 80% of the city of New Orleans. Should the billions of dollars for relief and aid be put into rebuilding the city and it's levees? As recently as December, 2004, an article came out in USA Today which recognized research by the Army Corps of Engineers. The research showed that some levees in the Louisiana/Missippi Coastal area had sunk as much as a foot in the past 20 years. While they did not at that point have a $$$ amount for the necessary improvements, they did state that the cost for the 125-miles of Lake Ponchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project would be about $100 million. A bit of research shows that as of March, 2005 the costs for this project were estimated at $1.5 billion, and funds were not available for 2005 for the project, so estimated completion was not scheduled until 2013-2015.
Are there other options? Would it be feasible to attempt to "fill up" the bowl? With all the debris about now, if there ever could be a time to do so, it would seem that now would be the time.
Given the information on simply reinforcing the levees quoted above, and the fact that major roadways and highways will have to be resonstructed as well, wouldn't it be better for folks to be encouraged to begin their lives anew in a new home, in a city less flood prone?
I'm sure I'll be taken to task for this, as I'm just a civilian who doesn't know whereof she speaks - but I *think* I know how I'd feel if I were to lose everything - and I don't think I'd want to put my life on hold indefinitely to get back to life as I *knew* it. It just seems to me, that folks need to do some deep soul-searching to determine if rebuilding the dream is really worth the cost.
Update: I truly believed I would be among the minority voices on this subject, but after reading Ogre's View and the accompanying comments, it looks like more folks are thinking about this subject . . .