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 wish.

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 discussion soon.

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?


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