Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Go with the Flow

When you are caught in a strong undertow, you don’t fight it. You don’t go against the current. You go with it. You move parallel to the coast until you are out of the undertow, and you can get back to dry land without a struggle.

Well, when it comes to how New Orleans will prepare for the next big hurricane, we are fighting the current. We are going to argue about whether gates should have been built to stop the storm surge instead of just levees. We are going to blame the federal government for not building the levees right. We are stuck in the past instead of looking to the future.

We need to go with the flow, or rather, the surge.

Can we even build a levee or barrier that can stop the storm surge of a category 5 hurricane making landfall slightly west of the city? We certainly can’t protect the lower parishes like St. Bernard and Plaquemines. Katrina’s storm surge was catastrophic in those areas.

The storm surge of a big hurricane will come in. We need to tell it where to go. Instead of fighting it, we need to direct it.

Southern Louisiana evolved over millions of years to take a big hurricane every now and then, so there is a place for the water to go. We need to find where that place is, figure out a way to channel a massive storm surge there, and get it done. If we raise our structures off the ground and build them strong enough to withstand the movement of the water, the whole city can be a channel for the storm surge to go to a happy place.

Or, we could just rebuild the city every fifty years. Either way.

1 comment:

oyster said...

Not an easy problem to solve, but I'm sure the path of least resistance is preferable.

Thanks for the link-- glad to know ya!