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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rebuilding New Orleans

There has been some chatter about whether or not we should even bother rebuilding New Orleans, given it's devestation and the very real chance that similar devastation will occur again in the future. This is, in reality, a stupid question. We must have New Orleans, and we much have it where it is. This Stratfor article does a great job explaining why. Read it all, but here is the final conclusion:

New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to. Geopolitics is the stuff of permanent geographical realities and the way they interact with political life. Geopolitics created New Orleans. Geopolitics caused American presidents to obsess over its safety. And geopolitics will force the city's resurrection, even if it is in the worst imaginable place.
Now, can we make New Orleans more resistant to hurricane damage? Possibly, although there comes a point when the cost of prevention exceeds the cost of rebuilding, even rebuilding multiple time. I don't know how hardened New Orleans can be to this sort of disaster, and I can't say if it is feasible to make it much tougher or not. We should of course do what we can. I don't know if New Orleans can ever reasonably be expected to survive a taking a Cat 5 in the teeth, but it does seem that it should have come through Katrina much better, and a few simple things could have made that happen.


Blogger RFTR said...

We can also build a commercial New Orleans without the kind of residential neighborhoods that existed there as late as last week.

The loss of life was not caused by people who were trapped at work—it was people who are at home.

I say we use New Orleans as a new experiment—build the best, most efficient, highest capacity commuter system in history (with room to grow), and greatly restrict residential zoning within the city.

Then we see what happens. I bet it works, and even if it's wiped out again, we won't see the loss of life that we're seeing this time around.

9/06/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

How far are we going to transport them? Would the residential centers you are propossing be any better off than the current location?

9/06/2005 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger RFTR said...

Sure they would... there are several suburbs, currently lightly populated, within range of N.O. that would be plenty safe.

9/07/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I am certainly no expert on New Orleans, but I think many of these communities are also protected by levies, which in this case didn't fail, but certainly could in the future.

In addition, they would of necessity be fairly close to the coast and thus susecptible to the more traditional damage of hurricanes, which mostly spared Louisianna, but devasted Mississippi for miles from the ocean.

9/07/2005 12:53:00 PM  

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