Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Daunting Question: Should New Orleans Be Rebuilt?

The question that has been rolling around in my mind since yesterday is one of those simple--but huge--ones. I don't know the answer. But the very fact that it seems like a reasonable question to ask is a bit daunting to me. It's this:

Should New Orleans be rebuilt?

Here is a large city built, as we've been told repeatedly in recent days, in a bowl below sea level, setting astride a large lake, the Mississippi Delta, and the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans is a massive disaster waiting to happen, be it a hurricane or the expected eventual change in the Mississippi River's course, either of which will destroy the city.

Even suggesting moving a city the size of New Orleans upriver seems ludicrous. While in the past, smaller towns and cities setting on rivers and lakes have been moved with the assistance of the US Army Corps of Engineers, none of those places were as large as New Orleans. Or as rich in history or tourist dollars. None of them possessed a Super Dome, a French Quarter, or the Sugar Bowl.

Last summer, my wife went on a Mediterranean cruise with her mother, two brothers, and sister-in-law. They had a great trip, which included a stop in Venice. Venice, in some ways, is Italy's New Orleans, a city built in an unnatural place for a city, constantly threatened by the inevitable defeat by nature of all its costly efforts to maintain itself. As my wife told me about the extra expense entailed to maintain an attractive and unique tourist destination, I couldn't help thinking, "What a waste! What an unnecessary danger for all the people who live and work in and visit Venice."

The same thoughts now cross my mind when I consider the much larger city of New Orleans. By all means, we need to help the people there rebuild their lives! But--and, as I say, I genuinely don't know the answer to this question--should the city itself be rebuilt in its current location? It seems to me that now is the time, before a much larger tragedy befalls the people of New Orleans, to ask that question.

UPDATE: It turns out that I'm not the only one asking this question. Check here, here, here, , here, and here, in addition to sites mentioned in different posts.

1 comment:

Anonymous 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 at:

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.