Warnings of a very real disaster, the worst anyone could possibly imagine had been given,
years ago, months ago, weeks ago and just days prior to what became a harsh reality. New
Orleans destroyed by nature. Man pushed and pushed to build and develop land which in 1910
stood a mere 10 feet above sea level. Over the years the underground pumping facilities
that have been in place as long as New Orleans has been known as a city have caused
subsidence, creating a loss of half an inch a year in stature. Just prior to this disaster
called Hurricane Katrina, the ground of the city was in the range of 2 to 13 feet below sea
level. Nature has reclaimed not only the original ground but took what man placed upon it
and has effectively removed a city from the land maps. Man built it, man expanded it, man
manipulated it and man succeeded in creating a crisis. It was planned.
We watched, we heard, we saw and while surprised at the intensity of this storm, many were
not surprised at the outcome when the wind stopped, the water seeking it's natural level.
We watched, we heard and we saw the anger and finger pointing by the Mayor of New Orleans
blame everyone but himself for the lack of a plan, the Governor so shocked as to become
totally ineffectual in spearheading the rescue effort to follow. . Blame is wasted energy.
Poor leadership no excuse for the aftermath. A crisis planned and nurtured by decades of
ignorance, arrogance and carelessness.
New Orleans is nothing more than a toxic wasteland now. Every building must be razed that
has been tainted by the fetid and toxic blend of fluid surrounding their foundations and
soaking into the absorbent materials they are built with.
The ground, the streams, lakes and the air itself will for years be filled with unseen
health threats. And those who wish to see New Orleans rise again on that ground would no
doubt be visited with a profusion of debilitating and chronic illnesses if they get their
What future does New Orleans have? Little pieces of the future debate can be found hidden
in the news, solitary quotes give rise to what will have to be discussed and will no doubt
be based more on emotion than logic, if what we have seen from some leaders continue. The
debate is only a distant and discordant background noise but will rise and become a national
Some questions need to be asked and honestly debated. Are we ready to override logic and
reason and rebuild a city on land that cannot sustain what was once there? Can we absorb
the expense and bring back the displaced residents with promises they are safe? Can we
afford to rebuild subsidized housing in an atmosphere that was covered in a mix of toxins
that can never really be removed completely? Do we set ourselves up for massive future
liabilities on both health and indeed, natural disasters? What are viable options? What
are real long term solutions and not feel good measures?
The most prominent question to be asked and answered is this. Can we continue to underwrite
the arrogance of man to defy nature on such a grand scale? New Orleans was built and
expanded with just such an arrogance. An opportunity exists now to honestly answer where
the future New Orleans will stand. Or, shall we plan another crisis?