Sunday, January 22, 2006

Why We Live Here, Why We Live Anywhere

From a T-P editorial:
Some people didn't have flood insurance because the federal government told them that their homes weren't at risk of flooding. Flood zones are set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and houses in zones with high enough elevations aren't required to have coverage. In fact, some parts of the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish bear the same flood zone designation as Uptown's highest, driest neighborhoods.

When the 17th Street and London Avenue canals burst, floodwaters poured into New Orleans houses that had never flooded before. Is Rep. Davis implying that these people should have known that the outfall canals weren't as sound as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claimed they were? Is he suggesting that people who failed to buy something they weren't supposed to need should be punished for their lack of prescience?
I would add that the people of St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth were told that the MR-GO was a shipping channel, not a storm surge channel.

The government said it was safe to build in these places. It wasn’t. The government bears the responsibility of the clean up, whether people had flood insurance or not.

Echoing a previous post, we rely on the government to do big time things we can’t do as individuals. That goes beyond flood protection. The west was settled by big time irrigation projects. The nation’s cities are connected by big time highway projects. The defense of this nation is a big time project.

If the water projects in the west failed, people couldn’t live there. If the highways disappeared, people couldn’t get anywhere. If the nation’s armed forces didn’t exist, would we still be here?

We live here and a lot of places because the government makes that possible.

If the government said “We are no longer providing water for the west,” would that be acceptable? If the government said, “We are no longer maintaining the highway system,” would that be acceptable? If the government said, “We will no longer provide protection for our citizens,” would that be acceptable?

No. Nor is it acceptable for the government to say, “We will no longer protect New Orleans from a catastrophic flood.”

People in Southeastern Louisiana have to be smart. If the government says, “We will no longer protect you,” then we can’t rebuild in the same places. However, the government *can* protect us. They just won’t.

We live here because the government funds big time projects for us to live here. We must accept that. But the government must accept that, too. We are here because they said we could be here. To say anything else would be going back on their word.

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