Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans' Flooding a 'Logistical Nightmare'

After reading this report, and seeing the dozens of television reports, I'm inclined to wonder why people are even considering rebuilding in the "NO-Bowl".

I understand that the city has hundreds of years of history, art, and architecture to its favor, but enough is enough. It doesn't make sense to keep rebuilding below sea level when you're only a few miles from the oft-raging sea. Except that, the entire region is central for midwest shipping.

The location is at the base of the highly navigable Mississippi River, and also on wonderfully flat lands where it's not so hard to put in roads and rails fairly quickly (shrinking bayous notwithstanding). We upriver folks really need to have a major port about where New Orleans has stood.

But logistically, on a city like the Big Easy, cleaning out and rebuilding every 35 years or so is (as FOX says) a nightmare and an increasingly impractical venture. Levees are always vulnerable to collapse, no matter how much of a genius was the guy who built them. And, even when they don't collapse, they make the city that much more threatened when the water rises above them. Other cities can drain away naturally. New Orleans needs massive pumping systems just to keep from falling behind the flow of the river.

So my thought is this: As long as they have to, in essence, wipe away the traces of the bulk of New Orleans, maybe they should consider rebuilding it with water as its friend... make it an American Venice. Sure, drain it for placing in initial infrastructures, such as sewage, power, etc, but then allow the waters back in, with tight pollution control laws and careful waste handling ever after.

Can you imagine the sounds of Dixieland jazz echoing across the waters above Bourbon Street? Can you feel the zydeco swing in the pools along old alleys? Can you picture Mardi Gras floats actually floating?

Okay, I'm nuts to think we can do this sort of thing. But who is more nuts -- the person who thinks we can have a thriving, elegant city in the sea, or the people who think it makes sense to keep rebuilding a city below sea level, near the sea?

Update: Gerry Charlotte Phelps says something similar about the idea of rebuilding a dry city in a basin.

Update 2: Michelle Malkin agrees with a commenter to Jeff Jarvis's question of how to rebuild, that now is not the right time to ask the question. I disagree with her. The longer we wait to decide what to do with these bones that are the Big Easy, the harder it will become -- and the more costly all around.


EclectEcon said...

Here's someone else who wonders whether it would be worthwhile to rebuild N.O.:

Porkopolis said...

I'm starting a blog list of responsible bloggers asking the tough questions regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans at Discussions on alternatives to rebuilding New Orleans.

Please point any like minded bloggers that would like to be added to the list over my way.

Part of what has to be done is contact Senators and Congressman to let them know there's another way to help those in need.