I mentioned this a few days ago and this morning it was told on Meet The
Press that the soil composition of southern Louisiana is such that it will
continuously keep sinking.
Fixing the dikes, filling the voids, etc., to the tune of $14bil right now
will only serve as a bandaid on the 7000 year old GEOLOGICAL progression
that is occuring and assisted Katrina in delivering her deadly message.
The gov't has known this for years but chose to ignore it.
The soil is a fine silt, mixed with water, that keeps compacting further and
further, it cannot be stabilized.
This type of soil is prevalent on the barrier islands I design houses on and
the only thing that works is to sink pilings down to the hardpan that will
support what is built above grade. On these sites, all that is built on
grade is determined to be a lost leader, it will go first in the even of a
tidal surge. Everything that is important is structurally secured at a
height of no less than 10' above sea level.
How do you build a whole city, 1/2 a state, 10' above sea level?
If all of the living are relocated from this disaster, why should they go
The argument that New Orleans be left without repair and that its
inhabitants be relocated elsewhere permanently is the most UN-AMERICAN
argument I can dream of.
I say so because your argument implies two things. 1: we are not nearly
as great a nation as we were 130 years ago, when the people of Chicago
rebuilt their city after horrible devastation and 20 years later hosted
the World's Fair. 2: we have officially lost our status as the most
technologically advanced nation on earth. If Japan can build islands
for airports, and we can't even fix an old set of levees around a city,
what does that say to you about your nation?
This is crazy and I hope my tone is ok.
Using the 1900 Galveston restoration model and
raising N.O's to +30' sea level is rather
difficult from the propery ownership point,
even though straightforward engineering wise.
But the legal difficulties are horrendous.
After that great expenditure is a *shanty* town
to be erected on it? After-all the impoverished
still own that real-estate.
What if someone does not want to have dirt
poured on their property? Do we go around them?
Very few people I've seen are talking about raising New Orleans 30' as
they did in Galveston. The huge expense of doing so and the smothering
of private property just isn't feasable.
Most are talking about repairing and improving levees that are already
there, and cleaning up the city. A much less expensive approach than
filling in the entire city, and undoubtedly less expensive overall than
building new suburbs and housing in Texas, Arkansas, and other parts of
Louisiana to absorb the population of what used to be New Orleans.
If the levees were repaired and upgraded, and if I got a job offer
there, yes, I would feel perfectly comfortable living in New Orleans.
They have some pretty awesome jazz bars there, and for the most part the
good parts of town only got a foot or two of water in them.
I feel comfortable living in Southwest Houston, even though there's a BP
plant a few miles from here that seems to blow up or catch fire twice a
I felt comfortable living in upstate New York, and before that Maine,
despite the ever-constant risk of major ice storms.
Lots of people feel comfortable living in parts of California prone to
No matter where you build, there are going to be risks of natural
disaster. Of all people, as a resident of hurricane-prone Florida you
should know that, Don.
Insurers still cover super-tall skyscrapers. 9-11 has shown us how
vulnerable those are. Interesting, alot of people said "people will
never again live or work in skyscrapers" after 9-11.
Houston Texas is prone to flooding, for the reason that water doesn't
drain from the city as fast as is accumulates during a strong rain. And
although they are picky about selling flood insurance policies, insurers
still cover the houses here.
Holland is a nation built largely below sea level. It is also a
socialist European nation, with all of the huge government incompetency
and bureaucracy that implies. By your logic, Holland should have ceased
to exist after the 1953 floods, and its people should be living in diaspora.
There's a difference between learning lessons, and throwing up your
hands in despair.
There you have it folks. The real reason Don says "New Orleans can't be
rebuilt." It'd cost money to do so - and unless Don says 'spend money
on this' - money shouldn't be spent on anything.
To which I say: our government spends money all the time. We pay for $1
billion bombers. We spent $12.2 billion so that rich Bostonians
wouldn't have to sit in traffic.
It's not about spending more money. It's about choosing wisely what we
spend money on. Choosing life saving levees for New Orleans instead of
the new I-69 freeway they planned to pour money into for example.
And that's precisely why I say your point of view is Un-American. Real
Americans with pride in their country and people learn lessons and press
on. You give up because you don't know the difference.
So have I, don. Unless you don't call tropical storm Allison and the
widespread flooding of Houston (causing $5 billion in damage) a
disaster. Unless you don't call a storm that dumped 24" of snow
overnight and knocked out power to 500,000 people in upstate New York
when I was living there (including my house, where it was out for 8
days) a disaster.
But the disasters you and I lived through pale in comparison to what
happened to New Orleans and Mississippi. And you're saying it's not
worth fixing the damage done to that city, as though the fine city of
New Orleans were some beat up old Chevvy on its last legs and with a
IOW: if it'd cost money to fix it, and if you're not the one for whom
its being fixed, then don't fix it. Give up.
I say - no. America cannot claim to be a great nation if it doesn't
band together, work hard, overcome adversity, and develop and impliment
technologies to make future calamities less likely. And as I said
before, it's not about pushing taxes ever higher. It's about
prioritizing life-saving and important domestic infrastructure over
luxurious new tunnels for commuters in Boston.
So really, Don, your argument isn't anything other than the old-hat
'government can't do anything right' stance you've had for years.
*Yawn* I was hoping you had a good reason for refusing to rebuild New
Orleans - something other than "I don't want to give my government money
for anything, helping New Orleans rebuild included."
Or you'll what?
You wrongly assume that I suggest increasing taxes ad-infinitum. But my
point is about making the right choices with tax dollars already
I would have hoped you'd pick up on it.
Who decided what the "right" choices are? Some would argue that
federally funded abortions are the right choice, others would argue that
they're not the right choice. Some would argue that a federally funded
highway in West Virginia is the right choice and others would argue that
the right choice is a federally funded highway in Missouri.
You're arguing that the right choice is to spend money on NOLA. Some
will argue that spending money on NOLA is simply wasting the money.
Again, who's to decide what is the "right" choice. I no longer trust
the elected officials at any governmental level to make the right choice
with money. They've proved over the course of the last 100 years that
they are incapable of making the right choice. They've proved it by
making choices that are not theirs to make.
So, yeah, sure, say "make the right choices with tax dollars already
collected." If you believe that the "right" choice will ever be made,
I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you...
Right, it's a delta, an alluvial marsh/floodplain, and needs to be
continually refreshed with soil from the Mississippi. Problem is that the
Mississippi hasn't been able to flow normally for many years, so there has
been no fresh soil depositions.
As the runoff sits, it compacts, and that's why it sinks.
As it sinks, and water replaces land (because of the lack of soil
replenishment), the buffer between the Gulf, and more inland areas, becomes
This is not a natural process. You mentioned in a separate post about
letting the land go back to nature and be replaced by water - but the land
is being replaced by water precisely because the current; processes (or
rather lack thereof) are not natural.
Not only the gov.t, tho'. Residents. "Developers". Historical
preservationists. People who just like to visit. And so on.
Same problem is had by Venice.
Right, it can only be replenished - which can't happen because of all the
flood control measures taken on the Mississippi. Canals, levees, concrete
(like the LA River - looks more like an open sewer or drainage ditch, but
that concrete trough is actually where the LA River would run - well, when
there was enough rain and/or snow in the mountains). The entire
Mississippi Valley is basically a flood plain. But the soil is good for
farming, so people take their chances.
Water is relentless. Just look at the Grand Canyon. Sooner or later, it
has its way. Humans tend to forget about preparing for that eventuality,
because in their egotism, they delude themselves into believing they can
actually control the water.
I don't know how, because I'm not an engineer :( , but I'm sure it *could*
be done - albeit at a *tremendous* cost and over a very long period of
Can old buildings be saved? I'm sure the technology exists, but it's a
matter of money. How many resources do you take away from other
necessities? People want their homes back, which is certainly
understandable, since few can just pick up and move elsewhere. But what is
the price? What will be given up by, or taken from, others, to achieve
that? That's the question.
If all that's going to be done is rebuild the system that was already
failing to begin with, it doesn't make much sense. To survive form more
than a short time, the city will have to be restructured.
Given that sea levels are rising, this will become an issue for all coastal
Maybe they will become what the "sci fi nerds" envisioned long ago - clear
interconnected lenticular domes, streamlined against both wind and wave,
interconnected by tubes ;)
In any event, I personally think that the form of the Coastal City will
eventually have to be completely re-thought. Which won't happen until the
very last moment possible, because people are all hung up on bickering and
war and economics and so on.
A fact is a fact. Tokyo built that airport; the N.O. levees went kvetched-
about-but-never-repaired for many years.
People with some hope of power-gain will try to spin that fact to their own
advantage. In the end, whatever the so-called "reasons" (i.e. excuses),
America is a shell of what it used to be.
The fact, regarldess of excuses, is thatflash has become more important
than substance; appearance superior to character. People no longer elect
Leaders - they elect Parents, someone, *anyone*, who will relieve them of
the "burden" of individual responsibility and individual thought and
individual competence. Whitewash is more valued than human honesty -
people don't want to have to decide between two or more imperfect, very
*human* candidates - they want slick, shiny talking mannequins who have
never sinned because they either have been kept isolated from humanity, or
because they are plastic inside as well as out and therefore feel no urges.
Unfortunately, sometimes one has to expereince the depths before one can
comprehend and appreciate the heights - but that's a philosophical concept
for an age long past. This is the age of the sound-bite, of poreless skin,
of silicon implants and surgical perfection. Things like character and
personality are secondary, if they're even at all relevant. Things like
"honor" and "integrity" are impediments to The Most Holy of Goals, namely,
accumulating as much material wealth as possible.
New Orleans is a symptom of a vast ennui that goes far deeper than any
current gov.t officeholders. They are, after all, just people, like any of
us, and are products of the same spreading shallowness. And it's got
nothing to do with going to church...
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