Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Plans for New Orleans Rebirth

CNN has an article today that discusses the planning for rebuilding even the hardest hit parts of New Orleans. After Katrina, I was all for rebuilding the entire city, but after visiting two weeks ago, I really do have to wonder about the value of rebuilding the most flood prone parts of the city. They can invest all the money in the world on flood control and prevention of future disasters, but nature is too strong and any precautions will inevitably fail. That is just a fact of life.

After seeing the widespread destruction from the Lower 9th Ward all the way to Lakeview along the still leaking 17th Street Canal, I don't see any logical reason for rebuilding a home or business there. And no this is not a conspiracy as some have suggested. It is a simple fact of economics. I can understand not wanting to leave a neighborhood that you grew up in or where your family has strong community ties, but these areas will flood again and I think that the American taxpayers can only have so much sympathy for the situation. I don't think that there are many people in this country who were not horrified by the destruction and loss that occurred in New Orleans. However, if people choose to return to an area that in some places was covered by more than ten feet of water, they should do so only with the understanding that they are on their own. I don't think that it should be the responsibility of any federal, state or city entity to guarantee protection in the face of future inevitable destruction. The areas in question should probably be better utilized as a spill-way in the event of another flood so that other parts of the city will not be so impacted.

The charges of conspiracy and racism are doing everyone in the hardest hit areas absolutely no good. The city is trying to remove debris from streets and get back to normal as soon as possible. They are not systematically trying to gentrify New Orleans. After seeing what I saw in Lakeview, I can be certain that there are going to be just as many homes torn down there as there will be in the 9th Ward. It's been more than four months now and people are pissed off that they can't return to their homes, but many of those homes are condemned. There will be no new homes until the old ones are torn down but these types of protests are slowing down a process that is already moving extremely slow. I read an interesting observation on Fark.com related to the charges of conspiracy. It basically boiled down to the idea that people have come to use the idea that some vague conspiracy is responsible for anything that you don't like or agree with as opposed to an actual cabal of evildoers plotting against you personally.

Enough with the talk of conspiracy. Hurricanes are violent and destructive. They happen all the time and some years are worse than others. Despite centuries of work, the safety precautions failed and a large part of New Orleans will have to be rebuilt. Looking at this from another perspective, at least New Orleans had some built in precautions. Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Waveland, Bay St. Louis, etc. didn't have any preventive levees or sea walls and they are in terrible shape as well, but they are working more to clean up than to file lawsuits to prevent demolition of condemned structures. It's time to move forward and rebuild New Orleans in such a way that is sensible for both the economy and future generations of residents.

1 comment:

katielady said...

Here, Here! Joel and I were just discussing that fact this morning. I certainly don't want to pay to rebuild something that will inevitably fail again, no matter how well-built it is. And you can't blame the government for Mother Nature's wrath.