Monday, September 1, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

As Hurricane Gustav hits landfall, it looks like New Orleans might escape the most serious effect of the hurricane. Of course I remember waking up one day a few years ago and reading a headline to the effect of "New Orleads Dodges a Bullet." That bullet was Katrina. Although the hurricane didn't directly hit the city, the rainfall and the surge accompanying the hurricane did end up doing in the city.

In the light of what happened with Katrina, it would have been wise for New Orleans' officials to re-evaluate allowing the city's residents to rebuild in the lower 9th ward, St. Bernard's parish and other very low lying areas of the city. Historically, one thing that benefitted New Orleans was a marsh land buffer leading out to the Gulf. The marsh land acted as a sponge sopping up a lot of the effects of hurricanes and other storms. Officials have allowed marsh land to be developed thus reducing the city's buffer zone.

Another problem is that New Orleans, which is already below sea level, is steadily sinking. The city was built mostly on silt deposits, not exactly stable soil.

I saw a news report several months ago, about a city allowing a new mall to be built in a flood zone along the Mississippi. The area had badly flooded a couple years earlier. The city officials' praised the development as well as the new levee walls they built to try to prevent future flooding.

Folks, that water has to go somewhere. If one community increases its levee walls, then another community down river can be adversly affected.

This is one of the few areas I feel the feds need to put their foot down about developing property in flood zones and below sea level. Is nice to say New Orleans and the Mississippi River city that allowed a new mall to be built in a flood zone should take care of their own problems. The fact though is the federal government always ends up bailing those local folks out for their unwise decisions. Another reason for the feds to play a bigger role is that a decision with regard to building a levee in one area affects residents of other states. It is not an isolated decision with isolated consequences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

point well taken-- levees and other floodplain filling prevent floodwater storage and force flooding onto other properties.