November 28, 2005
Rebirth of a City?
The flag flys proudly over the Veterens Memorial in Waveland MS
I read this report on MSN and felt sad and angry. Sad because I understand the feeling of this man and angry because the desire to rebuild New Orleans on a flood plain is a foolish dangerous piece of work that I feel shouldnt be attempted. First a copy of the report by Martin SavageNew Orleans residents wonder about the future
Anger, frustration in New Orleans
Nov. 22: Three months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has no official plan to rebuild, no outline for what rebuilding will cost, and there's talk of whether the city should be rebuilt at all. NBC's Martin Savidge reports.
NEW ORLEANS - Sixty-eight-year-old Freddie Tassin is cleaning out his New Orleans home alone — which is how a lot of residents here say they're feeling these days.
Sometime I get angry, Tassin says. Then I get frustrated, then I get sad.
Three months after the storm, there's no official plan to rebuild and no outline for what it will cost. Instead, there's debate over who should run the schools, who should get the loans and, lately, whether a city below sea level should be rebuilt at all.
New Orleans Times Picayune writer Jarvis DeBerry opened his column Tuesday morning asking, I wonder what New Orleans did to the rest of the country that makes them hate us so?
It's very insulting and condescending, says DeBerry, to suggest that New Orleans, because of our geography, is somehow not worth the effort that would be put into San Francisco, Miami or Chicago or Boston or any other great city.
At a pizza parlor on Magazine Street, owner Ted Neikerk thinks the talk of giving up is way out of line.
I think a lot of people are just reacting, kneejerk reaction right now, saying, "Enough of New Orleans." But it’s too good of a city to give up on that fast.
Many still cling to President Bush’s promise of not so long ago.
"There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans", said the president on Sept. 15. "This city will rise again."
But Freddie Tassin fears the talk of rebuilding was just that.
"It seems," he says, "they just want to forget about us."
And so he keeps cleaning — all by himself.
© 2005 MSNBC Interactive
With all due respect to these gentleman, their reactions and logic are irrational. Yes its painful, but many people have to relocate a city from a poor location to a better one. Sometimes cities are never rebuilt or are not rebuilt to the scale of the original.
A great example of this is Galveston Texas. In 1900 the people of that island city thought of it that it was the "New York of the Gulf" Galveston was a great port city with a population of about 35,000. A thriving city of businesses, factories and farms.
The people had not seen a hurricane in living memory. The weather experts from Washington thought that they knew it all, and felt that they could predict a storm of any magnatude. They encouraged people to carry on and not worry...
The weather was beautiful on that warm sunny day...by midnight a monster storm was raging, and the storm surge, 30 feet and more scoured the island. 20,000 and likely more died, there was no where to go on that sand bar of an island that stands only 8 feet above sea level.
Now 50,000 people live there, but there is limited development and the remaining businesses all moved to what was then known as Mudville, now known as Houston. Galveston will never know the glory of yesterday and only a few stately Victorian homes give us a glimpse of the grandure of its turn of the century splendour.
Its Good Friday on the Big Island, and the children are singing a song in their schoolhouse at the oceans edge within the deep valley known as Laupahoehoe. The parents of the children worked in the sugar cane fields above the tiny village from dawn to dark, the grandparents took the children to school, brought them lunch, cared for their homes...Those old "Aunties" didnt see the water receede from the shore as the giant wave poured into the valley. I met a man that survived, and he said its sound was worse than the volcano errupting, deafening... The wall of water took the school the church and the little homes and swept they and the residents within out to sea. My survior was picked up by a navy ship on debris. He was the only teen to survive. There were over 500 casualties amid a population of 5000 island wide
The Territorial Authority, and the federal government moved the berieved town a town that lost all of its childern and and grandparents to the top of the bluff and the valley floor is now a park and memorial. Many of the fabulous wave action shots you see on the blog including the masthead at the top were taken there and the area is a constant reminder that with nature, change is the only contant.
The year is 1964, and it is also Good Friday. The town of Valdez Alaska, was having a busy morning. Then the greatest earthquake the area has ever known thundered through raising and lowering the the land 20 to 30 feet and causing a tidal wave that wiped out the port of Valdez, and swamped the towns along Prince William Sound. You can still see the dead trees inland for miles as you drive along the parkway, and how the forest becam a swamp as the land continues to colaspe near Ancorage.
Three months later, the citzens of Valdez were told that they and their town were being moved up country about a mile and a half where the city thrives to this day.
There are other cities that have been relocated, like beautiful Vadalia, Louisiana, where we just visited. In 1938, a WPA project to widen and clear that area of the Mississippi traffic lane as well as concern that this disruption of the river would cause flooding, so they moved the neighborhoods in the flood zone, and built a levee. This was a unanimous decision by the people of Vadalia. Currently they have a park built on that land and that lovely hotel we stayed in there.
Tell me, what makes New Orleans so special that it must be fully rebuilt to its pre Katrina proportions? Why do we as a nation have to spend the money that would need to be spent to do that, and rebuild a death trap. There will be more Katrina's, more floods and evacuations.
Do we rebuild the Projects? The slums... do we rebuild the poverty, vice and crime. For the truth is for all of its charm, and its history, New Orleans was a city on the skids, with a huge portion of her population in poverty with no future no hope...
I am not saying that the people of New Orleans are bad, or that the history shouldnt be preserved, but the monumnets to those long dead should not be built at the expense of the living now and in the future.