Monday, September 12, 2005

Rebuilding Nawlins

There is a widespread consensus that New Orlean, while a great city, probably should be rebuilt better. It must be rebuilt. It is one of the largest and most important ports in the country. Nor is the area a one-trick pony, it is not only a shipping center but also home to massive oil refineries distilling crucial northern gulf crude. Rebuilding is not optional, it is imperitive. But we must do it right.

Gerry Phelps, a good Texan, says to look towards Galveston. A Class 4 hurricane there did similar damage and caused similar death over a century ago. The solution was to raise the grade of the island between four and seven feet using fill materials like dredged undersea sand. It has proven to be a stable fix.

Donald Sensing looks at more infrastructure based proposals. Bruce Babbit suggests rebuilding New Orleans on an artificial island above the marshes.

I think it may also be possible to build the city where it was, but in such a way to compartmentalize flooding and facilitate transportation. Build elevated roadways. Develop a plan to limit flooding by adding artificial high ground to break up the floodplain and protect vital infrastructure.

In the end we need a master plan for reconstruction. Some are saying that this is too early, but as any student of disaster knows, now is the time. Once people start moving back into the disaster area, the opportunity will be lost.

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