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Will New Orleans Be Reborn?

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The key question every time there is a natural disaster is not, "How did this happen?" Nature is dangerous, and it is always causing a disaster for someone, somewhere. Nor is the question, "Who is to blame?". There is always something more that could have been done to protect this or that place--at an expenditure of millions or billions, against a risk that could not be predicted.

The only really important question after a disaster is: "How are we going to recover?" See today's Human Achievements for a story of how Americans dealt with a disaster 105 years ago at Galveston...

Human Achievements

The 1900 Storm vs. Galveston, Texas

The 1900 Storm is still the deadliest natural disaster in US history, with estimates of lives lost ranging between 8,000 to 12,000. It utterly destroyed and almost entirely flooded the island city of Galveston, Texas, and killed 6,000 of its inhabitants. This is the story of the rebuilding of Galveston after the storm.

http://www.1900storm.com/rebuilding/index.lasso

"For while the story that began Sept. 8, 1900, is one about the fate of people at the hands of nature, it's also one about people altering their own fates by changing the face of nature.... Despite the unimaginable devastation and what must have been a hard realization that it could happen again, the city immediately began pulling itself out of the mud.... Residents of Galveston quickly decided that they would rebuild, that the city would survive, and almost as soon, leaders began deciding how it would do so."

"The two civil engineering projects leaders decided to pursue--building a seawall and raising the island's elevation--stand today and are almost as great in their scope and effect as the storm itself.... The feat of raising an entire city began with three engineers hired by the city in 1901 to design a means of keeping the gulf in its place.... Along with building a seawall, Alfred Noble, Henry M. Robert and HC Ripley recommended the city be raised 17 feet at the seawall and sloped downward at a pitch of one foot for every 1,500 feet to the bay.... The first task required to translate their vision into a working system was a means of getting more than 16 million cubic yards of sand--enough to fill more than a million dump trucks--to the island.

"Its struggle for survival against nature through the application of technology represents the strongest tradition of Western civilization. Galveston's response to the great storm was its finest hour."

Source: www.TIADaily.com

Edited by TIA Daily
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Another question to ask is "at what cost?" --there is a reasonable limit to the amount of money a society can invest in placing populations in geologically dangerous areas.

Doing so places a great number of people in danger, and when disaster strikes on a grand scale, it costs the rest of the country significant sums to rescue them.

I think the area below sea level should not be inhabited, except for perhaps oil exploration or other dangerous industrial applications. As we have seen this week, the magnitude of a hurricane's effects is greatly amplified by these coastal and below sea level areas.

Frankly, I can't fathom how people can even LIVE down there with storms several times a year destroying large numbers of homes. It's like gambling or playing Russian Roulette: eventually, the occupants WILL lose everything.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert has voiced some sensible opinions on the matter, stating that rebuilding below sea level is senseless, and that there is a question as to whether federal aid should be involved. I agree.

Now we also have oil rigs and refineries in the Gulf Region, which have been disrupted. I watched as gas rose 50 cents in five hours today, hitting $3.79/gallon in NY this afternoon. It was reported at $6.42/gallon in Atlanta on the afternoon drive home. Many stations are out of gas. Floridians are finding gasolene scarce.

The levees were only designed for a cat 3 hurricane. A high probability is that budget constraints limited the safety of the residents.

I think it makes more sense to relocate the residents to higher ground. With the increase in very intense storms the past few years, I see this region being battered again and again. In Florida, many buildings still under repair were destroyed again. It would take years and maybe decades to rebuild New Orleans. I think the money can be better spent relocating folks to safer regions and better quality homes, than putting them back in harms way and spending more money building elaborate levee walls to try and resist some staggering forces of nature.

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There is also a SIGNIFICANT differnce here. When you talk about rebuilding New Orleans and the way they rebuilt Galveston are very different animals. When people talk about rebuilding NO, they are talking about literally bulldozing and rebuilding.

Galveston was the biggest most bustling city going. It was literally like Ellis Island. I'm a life long Houstonian and didn't realize it until I visited the Seaport Museum. It was the major port city and was a hub of activity for the state and served as a conduit for supplying a great part of the midwest expansion with goods. While they did build the seawall and raised the level of the Eastern part of Galveston, that was for the residents. What they did do that was smart was move the port and industrial facilities into the safer territory inland called Houston and Barber Cut.

The main point I'm trying to make was while parts of the city were indeed rebuilt, for the most part everyone and all the industry, labor, etc left town and moved inland where it was safe. That is what is most certainly not being suggested for New Orleans.

To this day the port of Houston remains America's most busy port. It's also one of the deeper ports as well. One of the reasons it's that way is the fact it's set inland from and isn't directly exposed to the ocean like LA and NY, it's located in the center of the country and doesn't ice over or require circuitous routes like the Great Lakes ports do. Most importantly the fact they moved it away from an exposed area like Galveston.

While we do compare apples to apples, remember there are macintoshes and golden delicious; so an apple isn't always an apple.

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While we do compare apples to apples, remember there are macintoshes and golden delicious; so an apple isn't always an apple.

I am confused by this statement, which seems to be the concluding and thematic statement of your post.

Yes, a particular macintosh apple is not identical with a particular golden delicious apple. But how do you conclude that "an apple isn't always an apple"? Could you give examples of when an apple is not an apple?

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I am confused by this statement, which seems to be the concluding and thematic statement of your post.

Yes, a particular macintosh apple is not identical with a particular golden delicious apple. But how do you conclude that "an apple isn't always an apple"? Could you give examples of when an apple is not an apple?

I will agree this is quite simply the worst constructed analogy I've ever used. What I was trying to express was indeed that yes while they are indeed strikingly similar ie they are two apples in that both were destroyed by hurricanes and loss of life was massive the resulting logic of the development of the city afterwards is different. So hence they were 2 different strains of apple. Again, it was a poorly constructed analogy an I do apologize.

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I don’t know whether New Orleans should be rebuilt – I’m not a engineer. The individual property owners in New Orleans should vote with their money as to how the risk can be mitigated and whether is worth taking.

What will actually happen is that the Army Corps of Engineers will come in and make a big show of rebuilding the levees for billions of dollars without concern for whether the move is technically or economically sound. They will certainly ignore the fact that the levees caused the flood in the first place. The result will be another disaster – for even if they successfully patch this one, they will not be concerned with preventing the next one.

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