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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Poor New Orleans

Somehow, I don't think offering a free wireless internet system is going to help New Orleans much:
In an attempt to boost its stalled economy, the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans is starting the nation's first free wireless Internet network owned and run by a major city.
Nagin said the system started operation Tuesday in the central Business District and the French Quarter. It is to be available throughout the city in about a year.
A better levee system might do a lot more:
A common theme emerging in the debate about rebuilding hurricane-hit New Orleans is it should have a flood protection system to withstand Category 5 storms.

But building such a system will be astronomically expensive and technically complex, reports The New York Times. It will involve far more than just higher levees, including extensive changes to the city's system of drainage canals and pumps and environmental restoration on a vast scale to replenish buffering wetlands and barrier islands.
The estimate is around 32 billion. As it is, I bet a lot of companies are hesitant to rebuild buildings in vulnerable areas (most of the Big Easy). So far no one has come up with what seems like a workable proposal to protect the city for the long term:
Tim Kusky, a professor of earth sciences at St. Louis University and a flood control expert, told CBS News coastal erosion has all but doomed the city's future.

"We should be thinking about a gradual pullout of New Orleans, and starting to rebuild people's homes, businesses and industry in places that can last more than 80 years," he said. "New Orleans is going to be 15 to 18 feet below sea level, sitting off the coast of North America surrounded by a 50- to 100-foot-tall levee system to protect the city."
Letting the Mississippi run free again would replenish the delta, but it would destroy more property than it would save. Is there a solution? I don't know.

Kusky is not an expert on coastal restoration or flood control as both the Times Picayune (nola.com) and Gambit Weekly (bestofneworleans.com) have clearly pointed out.

Besides. We can spend 87bn in Iraq? We can rebuild Europe and Japan after WWII. We can drop gobs and gobs of money on other nations but we can't rebuild a city of our own taxpayers?

Did you know that levees that failed were supposed to contain a storm the size of Katrina? Did you know you already paid for that with your tax dollars?
Yes, I did know that they were supposed to suffice for a category 3 storm. They didn't. When they were originally designed they might have.

Still, from what I've seen (and I've looked at photos) the flood walls that failed along the 17th Street Canal and the Industrial Canal were fundamentally unable to stand up against a major storm.

But the problem will continue to get worse. When I was in college umpteen billion years ago they were warning then of the same thing. As long as the city continues to sink the problem will get worse and worse.

The Mississippi is what built the delta. Taming it made a lot of land inhabitable, but it has unbalanced the delta.

There are places that have sunk about a foot in a decade.
Spend money on a free wireless internet system and ignore a substandard levee system. Hmmm. And I thought our Liberal Party of Canada had exclusive rights to asinine decisions.
The whole wireless thing was actually part of Nagin's plan prior to Katrina. It was part of his campaign platform to diversify the economy from mainly tourism by attracting higher paying tech jobs by building a sound, tech friendly, infrastructure. It may not be priority number one given the circumstances, but at least it is consistent with his campaign promises.

The infrastructure was so bad there that I would lose power for 8-10 hours at least once every other month. That is not condusive to attacting business, regardless of levees
Nagin is running for re-election.

I'm not so sure wireless internet will be an effective strategy.

There are only 75,000 people actually living in New Orleans- out nearly half a million pre Katrina.

If 'I'm in charge' Nagin really wanted to make a good impression, putting the garbage trucks of a half million population city to use cleaning up the mess might make a better impression.

I'm tired, unwieldy sentences are to be expected.

"Is there a solution? I don't know."

There's dozens of solutions...the trick is which one to use, how "permanent" is it, how much does it cost, and do we have the will to do it?

Here's some samples:





I like landfill, since the Port of South Louisianna's "long suit" is bulk cargoes.

Flood control:




And there's always the option of "re-branding" Baton Rouge.

That's very interesting, Bilgeman. I'm roaming through your links....
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