Hard Decisions for New OrleansThat's the name of an editorial published the other day in The New York Times. The writer agrees with the sentiments of my recent post about the need to make better choices as we rebuild New Orleans.
Do we need better, higher, superior levees? Yes indeed. Do we need to elevate our homes to lessen the chances of repeat flooding? Yes indeed.
Does it make sense to restore a flood-ravaged house its exact pre-Katrina condition? Here's what The New York Times says:
"Even with a commitment from Washington to build optimal protection against the fiercest Category 5 storms - which hasn't happened yet - the work would take years to complete. Residents should not be encouraged to gamble with their insurance checks for political or emotional reasons."
To paraphrase General Honore, let's not get stuck on stupid. Partly out of ignorance and partly out of arrogance, we built the majority of our city below sea level, below the 100-year-flood elevation, below any reasonable measure of safety.
Now we're rushing to make the same mistakes again. Even as we curse the inadequate hurricane protection system, even as we hear the president dodge questions about federal commitment to significantly improving our levees, we just go on.
I love this city so much, it hurts to see all the destruction and suffering all around us. And it hurts to think that in 6 months, or in 2 years, or in 5 years, we'll have to go through it all over again.