Friday, September 23, 2005

Sand Castles and Eminent Domain

This is pretty much a quick note to myself right now, but since the levies have been breached again in New Orleans I want to repeat that it is insane to rebuild those levies. It is like making sand castles on the beach. The water always finds a way. It is the most persistant substance on the planet.

I'm reminded of all the small communities that were flooded in the process of dam building. I will try to go back and document some of that, but it was very prevalent in this area back in TVA's dam-building heyday. Entire towns were abandoned and flooded when the reservoirs were made by the dams blocking the flow of the rivers to aid in flood control, energy production, and navigation. Granted, that's not the same as an entire city the size of New Orleans, but the issue of eminent domain seems to peek its nose in here too, just like when all of those towns and farms were flooded by TVA. I know this sounds disjointed and makes little sense, but there is a connection here, I know it.

Maybe I'm wondering why it's okay to abandon and flood entire rural communities for the benefit of all, but it's not okay to abandon parts of a city that is below sea level when it is clearly too expensive and overwhelming of our resources to restore it to its previous state? Yeah, I think that's my question. It's like when my great grandparents' home was taken to build a highway (eminent domain). Did they protest? No, they accepted that their sacrifice was going to benefit many others. I think it's time for lots of people to consider that portions of New Orleans might really have to be surrendered to higher forces (water). The way I see it, doing that would be a greater benefit to more people than fighting the water. Can we really afford to spend billions on sand castles?


Average White Guy said...

Damn you are harsh--but probably right. However, San Francisco was rebuilt a couple of times--right on a fault line. The Government still gives people low interest loans to rebuild in flood zones all over the country. Should we not do the same for the cajun fools--just because there are so many of them?

Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

I am beginning to possibly reconsider my previous objection on the rebuilding of New Orleans, especially if it will involve what Eddie was purposing!! (your previous post link for others, I would recommend all to read)

However eminent domain was orginally designed for other narrow purposes, now that has been changed to benefit big business. I totally disagree with the latest ruling on this!

Great Post Rea Ann, glad this was a reminder, will be glad to see the part 2!

Kat said...

A lot of things the government does makes no sense to me.

SierraBella said...

Bravo, well said!

In California, we've had it drummed into our heads to be ready for a minimum of three days before even thinking help will arrive in the event of earthquake, tsunami, forest fire and more recently tornado.

Should I choose to rebuild after a major event, I would certainly not expect other taxpayers to assist. This would be a decision made between myself and my insurance company.

Chris said...

Excellent point. I don't think the whole city should be given up on, but I could see giving over a portion of it for some sort of marshland reclaimation or some such environmental pie-in-the-skyery to better manage future hurricanes and the like.

Though there is still the question of where all the people are going to go...

Rae Ann said...

awg, harsh? Ouch, I thought I was being a little more gentle than before. I think my strong fiscal practicality comes from our experience as small business owners. We can't afford to waste time and money on senseless, fruitless efforts. If it's broke, we fix it if it's worth fixing but not if the repairs are more expensive than getting something new. I've long said if the government was a real business it would have failed long ago. Things have got to change.

suzie, thanks, I really like chris's idea (in his comment) about reclaiming some of the area for purposes other than what they were.

kat, me too! totally

sierrabella, thanks, I like the way you think.

chris, I LOVE your idea about the wetlands/marshlands. And I'd say that a lot of the people don't want to go back. A lot of the evacuees who have come up here are talking about wanting to stay here. I can't blame them.

I think the silver lining here is that this is an excellent opportunity to totally revamp that area. Let the water have the below sea level areas. Rebuild the city on higher ground, etc. With all the urban planning taking environmental issues into consideration, the New Orleans area could become a model of finding a great balance between nature and man and civilization. Wow, that sounds so idealistic and pollyannish. But we need to think in those terms sometimes.

A little sick humor, David and I were talking about this last night and I said that if they left some areas flooded then they could set up glass-bottom boat tours for people to come and see the 'old' New Orleans. I know. I'm terrible.

word ver. = xfcop

Average White Guy said...

LOL --Love the idea--and a money maker!

Rae Ann said...

awg, thanks! I have a sick sense of humor sometimes.

Norwester said...

Hi Rae,

True to my word.....:)

I believe that when New Orleans was originally founded that it was at sea level.
The issue is that the delta of the Mississipi sinks and is not replenished as the river is not allowed to flood anymore.

So I guess that once again *man* reaps his own reward.



Rae Ann said...

Nor! welcome! And you are correct in your assessment of the Mississippi Delta. That's all the more reason why I think the rebuilding of that area needs to be much better planned. There are entire communities that are unfit now for human habitation, so why bother? Most of the people who lived there have moved on anyway. Thanks for coming over!

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