Wednesday, August 31, 2005

We Must Rebuild

I haven't paid too much attention to the Hurricane (I actually thought in was in L.A., CA instead of Lousiana for a few days). I've read a few articles about it and have the same thoughts that I always have about flooding and construction. With all due respect for the victims involved.

Stop. Fucking. Building. On. FloodPlains.

I hate hearing the 'survivors' of these natural 'disasters' proclaim that they will rebuild. Especially when they spout off about having rebuilt after 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2001 (dates made up). Fucking idiots. If you have to rebuild your city every few years -- then instead of blazing ahead with construction, why not consider moving?

Why should FEMA dollars continue to be used to bail out people who stupidly choose to live in places where flooding (or mudslides, hurricanes, wildfires) are inevitable? How is it a 'disaster' when it is completely foreseeable? Especially in light of Global Warming which predicts that these events are going to become more frequent and more powerful? A city shouldn't experience a 'hundred year flood' every fifteen years. Quit rebuilding.

New Orleans has a rich history, but seriously -- it is a city on the coast, below sea level and super-vulnerable to hurricanes. It prevents being submerged by a complicated system of levees and pumps. Last year it barely missed getting wiped out, too. Can't we just proclaim, 'Enough.' Quit insuring these cities & individuals with federal dollars. My guess is that most people wouldn't rebuild if they had to pony up for it themselves or knew that next time they wouldn't get help rebuilding.

Another annoying thing is all of the deaths and rescues that occur even though the areas had 'mandatory evacuations'. Why do so many people stay behind?

Finally, I read an article that mentioned that all of the highway lanes should be opened to outbound traffic because the roads were at a stand-still with congestion. This isn't a bad idea. However, it didn't suggest alternative ways of leaving the city (i.e. bicycles). Nor did it suggest busses being used to transport people to safety. Nor did it encourage the idea of carpooling -- something like 'in emergency, your car needs to be full of people (not stuff) to enter the highway; pedestrians and car-free people are directed to walk up the highway ramps to get picked up by those with room.' This might be sensible.

My guess is that families with two cars often took both cars, loaded with 'stuff' as they tried to reach higher ground. There might be less congestion if the cars had more people inside them. Of course these ideas mean valuing peoples' lives more heavily than the 'stuff' that they own.

I know that it sounds silly, but I have no doubt that on my bike -- especially on a highway without intersections -- that I would be able to get away from Chicago much, much quicker than in a private automobile. Even during daily 'rush hours' (inching traffic on the highways) I can move faster by bike than cars. This would increase many times if the highways were completely clogged with cars. Imagine how many more people could be moved by pedal power, busses or complete car-pooling.


At 3:00 AM, Blogger Frick said...

I was thinking the same thing, except I would also take my kayak with me. (approaching flood season is just more motivation to finish my bike-kayak trailer)

Although I understand the motivation of people trying to get out with their glorious "stuff," what I don't understand, is the people who realize they can't get out with it, and just decide to stay with.

Sorry people, you won't be able to do anything to protect your house, but I guess if you want to die with it, that's your call.

At 7:04 AM, Blogger George said...

I read your blog after posting a similar sentiments on mine.

You would expect people to have some common fucking sense when shit like that happens to them.

I know if my house was under 10 feet of water, I'd think long and hard about moving back.

At 5:52 PM, Blogger Jon said...

Sounds great, you guys. Except if you're indigent or physically unable to travel. If you don't have money, transport or strength you AIN'T leaving town - come hell or high water.

I did see the pictures of people hanging out in bars toasting that they beat the hurricane. Let's agree those people are responsible for their own demise. But I don't see we are talking 'bout the healthy, affluent and arrogant for the most part here. The point of blame seems moot.

But in any event, you'd think with our capability to wage war, we could wage some rescue like lightning. Of course, we're probably doing that "rolling start" thing that worked so well back in '03.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Frick said...

I totally agree about the people not being able to travel. I obviously wasn't refering to them. In fact, those are the people that properly planned evacuation and rescue plan should have been focused on. Instead, there seems to be a lot of people who don't fall into this category.

They've known for years, since they rebuilt the levees after the last big one, that they were designed to hold enough water that would be expected from a class III huricane. I don't live there, nor do I watch TV, yet I knew a couple days prior, that this thing was coming in fast. Simple deduction should have prevailed:

If A < B, then shit hits fan.
A = 3
B = 5
Therefore, shit shall hit fan.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Frick said...

I think its time New Orleans admitted to rest of the world what it really is. Its a place for everyone to party at for Mardis Gras. The other 11 months out year, in all honesty, we don't really care.

So here's what they should do. Screw rebuilding all the offices and homes. All we need are a bunch of bars, and some cheap shady hotels. Rebuild those. Make them out of concrete and real sturdy; hell, maybe even put in rubber flooring , so it can rinse off easily. Then, once a year, they can get everything looking all neat and shiny. Everyone can come down, have some drinks, see some half naked chics, and good times wil be had. When the parties over, everyone can leave; no one even has to worry about cleaning. Just wait for huricane season to come, and rinse everything away. The following year, they'll just have to spend a couple weeks getting everything ready all shiny again.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger George said...

Hey Frick, that's a good idea! My folks used to rent a house at the shore that was kinda like that.

The first floor was just plain concrete block. All the bedrooms were down there and the whole first floor was indoor/outdoor carpet.

I can remember the owners telling my dad that whenever there was a big storm predicted, they would take all the beds upstairs, roll the carpet up and open all the doors and windows on the first floor and let the water flow *through* the basement.

It would take them an hour or so with a hose after a storm and they would be good to go.

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Stop. Fucking. Building. On. FloodPlains."

Two of the most fertile agricultural lands in the world are built on flood plains, the Red River of the North that travels through North Dakota and Manitoba and the Amazon flood plain. I guess these people are stupid for living on a plain that floods every few decades, enriching the soil and providing food for them and the world in the off-flood years.

Also, the Katrina flood event was hardly a normal flood. Part of the event happened to occur on the Mississippi flood plain. Hurricane storm surges have nothing to do with river floodplains.

Many of the people in Louisana are living on historic plots of land that were given to them after their families were enslaved there. To shame them for living there when they have no other means is atrocious.

Yeah, you try biking out of a city with your family as hundreds of thousand other cars are leaving on causways out of the city, only to be left in the middle of a nasty swamp as Katrina converges on the city.

Looking forward to some more "white" inspired speeches from high.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger freewriter said...

Even kids know that when the water inevitably rises the sand castles will be destroyed.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger jojo said...

Dear anonymous ex-girlfriend

Your response actually brings up a point that very much equals my thoughts about the purpose of flood plains: agriculture. As you mentioned, the land in these areas is usually very rich and fertile, thereby excellent for growing crops. By its nature, farmland typically has very low-density human populations. If a really bad flood occurs, then the most lost is one season of crops, a small number of buildings and hopefully little or no human lives. If dense cities start getting built on the flood plain of the Amazon or in ND, then damn, will that be a stupid ‘disaster’ waiting to happen.

My impression of the increased damage of most recent floods is not caused from crop loss. Instead it is caused by humans building in more fragile areas. Waterfront property is more valuable than inland, and the developers hunger to sell these more profitable homes. More pavement gets laid down and wetlands are first degraded and then overburdened. Not only are populations living in more dangerous areas, but the natural buffers and protections have been rendered less effective. This is a huge recipe for disaster and rising costs of floods. In the meantime, very rich land is not being farmed, while massive amounts of resources are being spent to make the deserts of California and the Southwest bloom.

It doesn’t make sense. The New Orleans disaster is an outlier from recent flooding memories, because it was poor people, instead of wealthy riverfront developments that were harmed. My view on flood plain development was forged years ago, based on the stupid actions of wealthy (mostly white) people. I don’t appreciate the implication that because I am white I cannot voice an opinion about a major event in our country.

The fact that New Orleans is built, 1) on a flood plain, 2) in a hurricane-prone area, and 3) below sea level do not together mitigate the poor planning of this city, but instead exacerbate it. Also, my understanding (which might be incorrect), is that the areas that are most devastated are the ‘newer’ parts of the city. The historic parts of New Orleans were not hit nearly as hard. If this is true, it comports with my complaint that recently humans have picked more and more stupid places to build their homes and cities.

Also please re-read my call for people to carpool and be forced to pick up other people as they flee the city. This is a way for the car-free poor to get an escape route out of the city instead of just the rich families with their fleets of cars and backseats filled with electronics and other valuable ‘stuff’. A family with four cars they wish to save would potentially save four whole other families in an emergency. How very callous of me to suggest this.


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