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New Orleans

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Hi All, Doug Salzmann suggested that I post this message again, as it originally appeared with a header that had nothing to do with 95% of the message. ...
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 31 8:55 AM
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      Hi All,

      Doug Salzmann suggested that I post this message
      again, as it originally appeared with a header
      that had nothing to do with 95% of the message.
      So, here it is again:

      --------------------------

      I've been very distracted by the devastation in
      New Orleans, a city I got to know a little in the
      1980s. This disaster has been inevitable for a long
      time, but it seems likely that people are simply
      going to rebuild the city in harm's way, again.
      The interval to the next disaster will likely be
      a lot shorter than the last interval. I don't know
      what to do about this.

      It's odd. On Monday evening, it looked like my
      message of Monday morning overshot the mark.
      Today it looks as if the devastation is nearly
      as bad as I had feared, although there is still
      some chance that the loss of life will be much
      less than seemed likely before the storm hit.
      Basically, what happened is that the city flooded
      slowly, over the north levees, rather than rapidly
      over the south levees. Many, many people had a
      chance to escape the rising water. If the storm
      surge had come over the south (river) levees, we
      would be looking at many thousands of dead.

      I can't do much more on this. Does anyone here
      want to lead a task force on making a proposal
      for what to do instead of rebuilding in such a
      dangerous location with such poor economic prospects
      (once the river changes course to bypass New Orleans
      entirely)?

      If we are to have any hope of influencing the
      debate, there is a lot of work to do to put a
      proposal on the table in a week or so. This can
      only be done by people with at least some familiarity
      with New Orleans. I just can't take the time to lead
      this charge. (I can add my 2cents now and again.)

      I hope that the situation will not get much worse
      than it is, which is already very bad. I think, in
      fact, that we have probably seen the worst of the
      flooding, or very nearly so.

      In any case, my thoughts are with the people of
      New Orleans and their remarkable city.

      -------------------------------

      Now, I would also like to point back to the message
      I posted before the storm struck. I will re-write
      this in the context of the need for an urgent project
      to propose a better alternative than rebuilding
      New Orleans in the wrong place (i.e., where it is
      now) and using the wrong approach (cars).


      New Orleans has substantially ceased to exist as a habitable
      city. The mayor has ordered the evacuation of the last
      residents. While the hurricane flood risk has long been
      known, the increasing frequency and strength of hurricanes
      may have made this site impossible to protect. The risk
      from river floods is also enormous, and we might seen the
      city attacked by another flood as the massive rainfall in
      the Ohio Valley finds its way downstream.

      Most of the city is now under water to the level above
      ground floors and in many cases to the eaves. The Corps
      of Engineers has been unable to close the levees, and the
      latest estimate is that it will take 12 to 16 weeks to make
      the city habitable again. The damage is enormous, and we
      have yet to see how bad the pollution from small oil storage
      tanks is going to be.

      Finally, the Mississippi River is long overdue for a major
      course change that would take it through Morgan City, about
      60 miles/100 km to the west of New Orleans. This would end
      New Orleans main reason for existence, as a major port that
      serves the interior of most of the central US. The course
      change was already regarded as inevitable more than 20 years
      ago when I was studying flooding issues in New Orleans. Even
      now, only massive expenditures on levees, flood control
      structures, and dredging have kept the river flowing through
      New Orleans these last 40-50 years.

      The upshot of all this is that the damage to New Orleans is
      already so great as to make it unreasonable to consider for
      rebuilding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
      is charged with managing these kinds of disasters and
      already has the statutory authority to relocate cities
      and towns out of the flood plain after catastrophic
      flooding. Whether or not this would even be considered
      in the case of a major city like New Orleans cannot be
      said at this point, but the possibility exists. I think
      we need to advance that possibility.

      If New Orleans, a city of about 1.3 million people,
      is to be relocated to higher ground (quite some distance
      away), we should make the point that a new, carfree city
      would cost less to build and emit fewer greenhouse gases
      than any other alternative that might be considered.

      This event probably is going to cost more than the
      attacks of September 11th, although it now appears
      that the loss of life, while sure to climb, probably
      will be considerably less than during the disaster four
      years ago. We should make the case that this event is
      the harbinger of things to come, and that action that
      was needed a long ago has now become urgent.

      New Orleans, especially the old French Quarter, was
      arguably the most interesting city in North America.
      Its loss would be enormous, and perhaps some of the
      older sections, which are, quite sensibly, on the highest
      ground, can be preserved. But this really is not the
      right place for a major city.

      --------------------------------------

      I think we should conduct this discussion on the
      Carfree_Cities list, as it will be too much traffic
      for the World Carfree Network list, so if you are
      receiving these message on that forum, please join
      Carfree_Cities and reply there if you wish.

      Doug Salzmann has accepted my request that he coordinate
      this effort, as I am overwhelmed by other responsibilities
      at the moment.

      This could, of course, become the ultimate "pilot project."
      I don't have high hopes that this sensible idea will
      be heard very widely, but if there is even a small
      chance that we can help to avert another tragedy in
      New Orleans, we should try.

      Regards,



      ------ ### -----
      J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
    • Doug Salzmann
      ... Indeed. The breaches, so far, have been in levees (my spell-checker is getting very confused ;^) along the canals leading from Lake Pontchartrain, on the
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 31 12:14 PM
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        On Wed, 31 Aug 2005, J.H. Crawford wrote:

        > Today it looks as if the devastation is nearly
        > as bad as I had feared, although there is still
        > some chance that the loss of life will be much
        > less than seemed likely before the storm hit.


        > Basically, what happened is that the city flooded
        > slowly, over the north levees, rather than rapidly
        > over the south levees. Many, many people had a
        > chance to escape the rising water. If the storm
        > surge had come over the south (river) levees, we
        > would be looking at many thousands of dead.

        Indeed. The breaches, so far, have been in levees (my spell-checker is
        getting very confused ;^) along the canals leading from Lake
        Pontchartrain, on the north side of the city. Even those have submerged
        about 80% of N.O. If the big river were to break through, well... let's
        just hope it doesn't.

        > If we are to have any hope of influencing the
        > debate, there is a lot of work to do to put a
        > proposal on the table in a week or so. This can
        > only be done by people with at least some familiarity
        > with New Orleans. I just can't take the time to lead
        > this charge. (I can add my 2cents now and again.)

        Right. We really need to seize the opportunity to get folks' attention
        while they are susceptible to a little out-of-box thinking.

        Please, jump right in here, people.

        > I hope that the situation will not get much worse
        > than it is, which is already very bad. I think, in
        > fact, that we have probably seen the worst of the
        > flooding, or very nearly so.

        I think that's probably correct, unless additional levee failures occur.
        Of course, New Orleans has pretty much been wiped out, already, so...

        > Now, I would also like to point back to the message
        > I posted before the storm struck. I will re-write
        > this in the context of the need for an urgent project
        > to propose a better alternative than rebuilding
        > New Orleans in the wrong place (i.e., where it is
        > now) and using the wrong approach (cars).
        [SNIP]
        > The upshot of all this is that the damage to New Orleans is
        > already so great as to make it unreasonable to consider for
        > rebuilding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
        > is charged with managing these kinds of disasters and
        > already has the statutory authority to relocate cities
        > and towns out of the flood plain after catastrophic
        > flooding. Whether or not this would even be considered
        > in the case of a major city like New Orleans cannot be
        > said at this point, but the possibility exists. I think
        > we need to advance that possibility.

        It is essential that we do so. The likelihood of success may be small,
        but the discussion must begin, in a serious way, as soon as possible.

        This is decidedly *not* a "once in a lifetime event," as the politicians
        and talking heads keep calling it. It is much more likely that it is the
        "New World Order." I'm sure the nation will be shocked by the suggestion
        that New Orleans *not* be rebuilt as and where it was, but not nearly as
        shocked as it will be if this happens again, in a decade or two.

        > If New Orleans, a city of about 1.3 million people,
        > is to be relocated to higher ground (quite some distance
        > away), we should make the point that a new, carfree city
        > would cost less to build and emit fewer greenhouse gases
        > than any other alternative that might be considered.

        Amen.

        > This event probably is going to cost more than the
        > attacks of September 11th,

        Much more.

        > although it now appears
        > that the loss of life, while sure to climb, probably
        > will be considerably less than during the disaster four
        > years ago.

        I'm afraid that may not be true. Mounting evidence suggests
        to me that fatalities in N.O. are going to be very high, when the final
        numbers are known. For instance, there were reports of 2,500 rooftop
        rescues there yesterday (those continue, of course). The number of people
        trapped must be very large, and many of them, inevitably, will end up
        injured, sick, or dead.

        Also, rescue efforts have been (and mostly will be, for some time)
        concentrated in the most populated areas. Most of the structures and
        infrastructure along the Gulf coast east of N.O., at least as far as
        Mobile, have been utterly obliterated. There are thousands of square
        miles that have barely been visited or considered, yet. Those places are
        certain to be hiding a great many corpses.

        > We should make the case that this event is
        > the harbinger of things to come, and that action that
        > was needed a long ago has now become urgent.

        Yep. In N.O. and in any number of other low-lying population centers
        around the world.

        > New Orleans, especially the old French Quarter, was
        > arguably the most interesting city in North America.
        > Its loss would be enormous, and perhaps some of the
        > older sections, which are, quite sensibly, on the highest
        > ground, can be preserved. But this really is not the
        > right place for a major city.

        If the remaining levees hold, the Quarter will probably be O.K. That's
        good -- it would be terrible to lose it.

        Rebuild an autocentric city in that bowl? With the developing climate
        picture and the virtual impossibility of keeping the Mississippi where
        mere humans want it to flow? Seems crazy to me.



        -Doug







        ==================
        Doug Salzmann
        P.O. Box 1007
        Larkspur, CA 94977
      • Simon Baddeley
        What news is this? http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/121105Z.shtml I was told at an evening with a professor from a Business School the other evening that she
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 11, 2005
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          What news is this?

          http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/121105Z.shtml

          I was told at an evening with a professor from a Business School the other
          evening that she visited New Orleans two years ago and been told it was a
          city abandoned. Two years ago!

          Simon


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