Thursday, September 1, 2005

I Hate To Mention This.....

.....but I think somebody needs to say it. So my apologies in advance if I'm being a little insensitive, but before we spend billions of our tax dollars rebuilding New Orleans I have one small question.

Should we move the city?

I am all for the American "can-do" spirit, and certainly we have the knowledge and wealth to make it better than it was before, but why in the world would we do this? By virtually any measure, New Orleans' current location is an awful place to build a modern city. It is surrounded by water and even worse is the fact that it has been sinking for the past century.

I've been learning some additional information over the past couple of days that raises this question even further in my mind. I had always assumed that the levee system surrounding the city was to protect it from Hurricanes, and for this reason wondered why in the world anyone would have constructed a system that they knew was inadequate to handle the worst of storms. Yet, it appears that I was wrong in this assumption.

According to what I've learned this week, the levee system was built to stop the seasonal flooding that occurred with a predictable frequency. Fair enough, but experts have now said that this decision actually was a conscious trade off between small routine flooding of the city, and a major infrequent disaster such as we are now witnessing. Even more to the point is the apparent fact that the levee system, reduced nature's natural hurricane protection by eliminating huge amounts of coastal wet lands and effectively bringing the Gulf of Mexico to the city's front door step.

Further, we're now told that not only was the levee system inadequate for anything over a fast moving category 3 storm, but that it had not been properly maintained due to cost factors and bureaucratic bungling between the city, state, and federal authorities. I've already heard one ex-mayor of New Orleans blame the president and the feds for not spending enough money on the levee system, and I'm really not interested in witnessing this kind of finger pointing, because we all know that there is plenty of blame to go around.

The bottom line is that this is a pretty dumb place to build a city, and now that the poor folks of New Orleans expect that my tax dollars will finance not only the rebuilding, but also the financing of the construction and perpetual maintenance of an improved levee system, I've got to ask the question.

Should we move New Orleans?

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