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Moving to Higher Ground?


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If it is true that the weather is changing dramatically, that storms will be wilder and waters rising, perhaps it is time to start thinking about how to avoid catastrophic damage in the future. It might help to change the government, but the same problems will continue to face us. The temptation to blame Bush etc. is almost overhwelming, but Democrat or Republican, the problem remains: the overwhelming desire of people to be compensated for their losses and rebuild at vast and increasing cost to all of us vs. a reorganization of development into safer areas.

 

To rebuild New Orleans, Biloxi, etc., may simply buy time till the next inevitable catastrophic flood, and it will be an expensive purchase. Perhaps the government and the insurance industry should start encouraging people to move to areas which are not as liable to natural disaster.

 

Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Point well taken, Fly Boy. Nature is not always benign. And so perhaps we should ask sensible questions, as we should be learning to do with terror as well. Like ... given the dangers we do know about, what are some of the things that we can to do mitigate their effects. This is something Americans have done very little of.

 

So -- maybe we should not let people build their houses in canyons that WILL burn, because that is the natural cycle for that place. Maybe we should not insure people's houses built on beaches that fairly regularly get destroyed by storms. Maybe we should require people to build buildings that are designed for earthquake safety (in fact, in California, we do). Maybe we should design electrical substations that are not completely open to the most casual intruder.

 

In other words, while it is true that natural forces are frequently overwhelming, it is also true that, having learned something about them, when we build or rebuild we can locate and design with those elements in mind. While it is true that a determined terrorist will find an opportunity to wreak havoc, we can make it more difficult and discourage that activity, making it less likely. A city that sits 6 feet below the level of a major lake and depends on levees to keep it safe is a city that WILL be flooded eventually. This is not rocket science. It is gravity. And so the question is, to stumble blindly on, or devise an intelligent response for a better future. Nature cannot be defeated, but we can live better with her.

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Point well taken, Fly Boy. Nature is not always benign. And so perhaps we should ask sensible questions, as we should be learning to do with terror as well. Like ... given the dangers we do know about, what are some of the things that we can to do mitigate their effects. This is something Americans have done very little of.

 

So -- maybe we should not let people build their houses in canyons that WILL burn, because that is the natural cycle for that place. Maybe we should not insure people's houses built on beaches that fairly regularly get destroyed by storms. Maybe we should require people to build buildings that are designed for earthquake safety (in fact, in California, we do). Maybe we should design electrical substations that are not completely open to the most casual intruder.

 

In other words, while it is true that natural forces are frequently overwhelming, it is also true that, having learned something about them, when we build or rebuild we can locate and design with those elements in mind. While it is true that a determined terrorist will find an opportunity to wreak havoc, we can make it more difficult and discourage that activity, making it less likely. A city that sits 6 feet below the level of a major lake and depends on levees to keep it safe is a city that WILL be flooded eventually. This is not rocket science. It is gravity. And so the question is, to stumble blindly on, or devise an intelligent response for a better future. Nature cannot be defeated, but we can live better with her.

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You can't move New Orleans (and the entire East and Gulf Coasts) out of the range of hurricanes. You can make them much safer. Unfortunately, in the case of New Orleans, it is now well-documented that funds intended to strengthen the levee system and begin recovery of the wetlands south of the city that serve as a buffer to storm surges was diverted to Iraq. Levees work when maintained. In Holland they're called dikes and they've kept the Netherlands dry and habitable for centuries. (Yes, there have been occasional failures there, too, but dike maintenance is the number one national priority in Holland.) If the levees had been maintained and strengthened, the flooding would have been significantly less catastrophic.

 

Emergency preparedness also would have helped alleviate the effects of the disaster. There is NO excuse, period, for the utter inaction of the administration in the face of this gathering disaster. This catastrophe was long-predicted, and well-designed evacuation plans that take into consideration the thousands of people who don't have cars of their own, or cannot easily leave the city without help would have saved many lives. A functioning system of emergency shelters on high ground also would have made a huge difference. Where were the supplies of emergency food and water at places like the Superdome and Convention Center that would double as shelters in an emergency? Where were the police and Red Cross personnel to staff those centers? 40 years ago during Hurricane Betsy there was a network of shelters and people knew where to go and what to do as the hurricane approached. The shelters had food and water, and a network of workers and volunteers who could staff them. It took a couple of months to dry out the worst affected parts of New Orleans, but there wasn't a general breakdown of law and order, and the recovery effort began almost immediately.

 

This administration allowed all of those systems to break down. They've thrown untold billions of dollars into "homeland security" (while taking away our civil liberties) and this is what we have to show for it: utter devastation. If this isn't justification for impeaching them ALL, I don't what is. The administration utterly failed in its most fundamental responsibility: protecting the lives and security of Americans. But the saddest part of all is that Americans did this to themselves. They voted this collection of scum into office! And an awful lot of those votes came from the part of the country most disastrously affected by the hurricane. Maybe this is what it will take for the scales to finally fall from people's eyes and allow them to see what's really been happening and what the consequences of their idiotic voting has been. :-(

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