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2005-08-31 18:19:35.4994+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

Yesterday I went over the hill to hang out in a coffee shop with a coworker and get clear of the vibe of the house for a bit. On the way I switched on the radio, and was assaulted with pretty much content-free interviews with victims of Hurricane Katrina. After the nth "things are bad", I started to wonder what's really happening. Jay pointed out Wikipedia's Hurricane Katrina entry. Short, to the point, links to detail information. Don't know what we're paying those news folks for, but we ain't getting it.

And as an ex-resident, Mark has had a bunch of entries, including a list of local news resources. Now, here's a question: As bad as everyone makes the situation in New Orleans sound, with the breached levees and a few feet of flood shy of losing the drinking water system overall, what are the costs to repair versus rebuilding the city in some place that isn't a disaster waiting to happen again? We've been pumping tons of federal dollars into keeping the river flowing in the right place by the city, and keeping the seawater out, and if the property damage is getting to the point where the long-term infrastructure will be destroyed, what's the point of rebuilding rather than writing it off for lost and just moving the whole place?

[ related topics: Nature and environment Current Events Hurricane Katrina Real Estate ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-08-31 23:02:07.780108+00 by: meuon

Today I find that a group/clan of 18 just got to my Aunts house in Ohio. Another group is in Mississippi and a few are unheard of. They have reportedly lost it all, houses, cars, businesses.. maybe they'll be able to find stake claim to their land when the water subsides, if they want to.

My Dad, who grew in New Orleans, says bad bad things about the politics and welfare state of New Orleans, much of which I am sure is true. But it is a port city and important and central to many businesses. I am sure many businesses, if still viable, will consider rebuilding elsewhere and that will change the landscape of New Orleans some. But people live places for many reasons and there, family and tradition count for a lot, so they'll do what they have always done: rebuild.

My kinfolk are reportedly attempting to start completely over elsewhere. ie: looking for jobs or a way to restart a business. Charlette and family ran a downtown New Orleans limo company.. The Yeagers owned resturaunts.. I hope insurance comes through enough to not leave them in debt.

Personally, I'm a little cold towards a lot of it: Social Darwinism just became a major force in New Orleans, and we'll expend a LOT of time and money supporting a class of people in New Orleans that -need- to be supported. They did before the hurricane.. and they'll suck even more from that host (us) now.

But then, even being a paranoid quasi-survival nutcase, I wonder how I would do in the same situation. My house is my largest asset and investment and it enables me to operate a sporadic cash flow business because it and my vehicles are paid for.

Where are the nations we have helped in disasters?

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-01 02:11:56.305798+00 by: Larry Burton

My wife works in insurance and we live in Atlanta. Today a family drove up to her office and came in asking to settle their loss with the company and start over in Atlanta. Unless they had flood insurance most likely they are out of luck.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-01 03:32:06.096256+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

Right, that's exactly what I heard from an insurance adjuster on NPR today. Most people's insurance will cover wind damage there (roof being blown off), but only a very tiny fraction had flood insurance, so most of the damage is not covered at all by private insurers.

Which leaves Federal disaster relief.

It always struck me as completely bizarre and frankly crazy that N.O. would persist below sea level. I'm thinking it's time to abandon ship and develop the necessary port somewhere that's not by default underwater.

I'm not someone who thinks all Federal aid programs should be disbanded, far from it. But I've always bristled at being expected through Federal aid programs to, in effect, chip in to pay for the folly of someone who decided to build/buy their house right on an eroding cliff in CA, or on stilts on the tip of Long Island in NY, or below sea level in New Orleans LA. I think I'd be in favor of some regulations that say, in essence, "under some conditions, you are not eligible for Federal disaster aid: if you choose to live in some really inappropriate place, you take responsibility for that: don't expect everyone else to pay to rebuild your life if your house falls apart or is swept away". It's all about personal responsibility. But I don't expect this to actually come to pass.

(PS: By this time (3 days out) after the tsunami in December, aid and assistance was pouring in from around the world. I haven't heard any such peep so far in the international community. [[EDIT: OK, maybe I spoke too soon? We shall see.]] My husband, living in Finland for 3 months, says he can't even get any news about it there unless he checks US news websites, what he hears there is more like, "The southeastern US had a bad storm and some flooding." I'm surprised that there aren't more offers of aid from abroad... but perhaps they will still be coming once New Orleans is abandoned. Assistance for rebuilding the Biloxi and Gulfport downtowns would make sense, for instance.)

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-01 10:08:30.019311+00 by: meuon

I had to laugh: Citgo Petroleum from Venezuala offers $1 million in hurricane relief. - That's real money and I'm sure it'll help, but it seems like a small token. I'm guessing New Orleans was part of their oil/gas distribution into the US.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-01 16:14:41.207439+00 by: Dan Lyke

Everyone who's lived with me has always laughed at my desire to keep a moderate amount of canned food and dry in our pantry, especially since I'm such a "fresh veggies" sort of guy. This incident is a good reminder that not only do I need to keep that around, I probably should do some planning to make sure I've got complete meals worth of stuff.

It's also a reminder that I used to have three bags near the door, one of core gear and the other two application specific. I used them back in those days because I never knew when a friend was going to call and say "let's go paddling" or whatever, but it's time to make sure the backpacking stove and water treatment filter work, and re-assemble my backpack with the core gear in it.

In the "That sounds like what would have happened at Chattanooga On-line when Meuon was there" (and the rest of the folks may still be this hardcore), the folks at DirectNIC are holed up in the office with an undisclosed quantity of food and ammo, but they just got another 1300 gallons or so of diesel for the generators, and it looks like the flood waters which showed up on their web cam have retreated.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-09-02 11:54:58.881976+00 by: jeff

7:24 EST

I just saw a live interview with Mike Brown, the director of FEMA. It was blatantly obvious that he had no answers for the common sense questions such as: "why isn't food being airlifted and dropped to the Superdome and the Convention Center?" And "why is it that all of the news organizations have better information than the federal government?" His answers were non-sensible and evasive. He actually lied about how many troops were on the ground in New Orleans.

I wonder what our elected president will tell us, once he gets his 1700-foot view later today. We're all looking for answers for the lack of "immediate" action, and I don't think he will have them.

Maybe Mike Brown needs to be relieved of his duties? Maybe not. Maybe the people who are pulling the funding for FEMA, and who are instead "creating" national terror under the guise of "Homeland Security" should be fired?


I just saw an interview with Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco (who was in tears). When asked how many federal troops were on the ground, she couldn't answer. Obviously, as our free press plainly has shown, they have only just started to arrive. Too little, too late.

I also listened to an audio-only interview with New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, and he is clearly pissed, upset, frustrated, and honestly frank how the federal government as failed ALL Americans with their lame, late, and unaffected approach to this disaster. Or so it seems.


Apparently FEMA is being dismantled and being replaced by the Department of Homeland Security, so we must beg the question:

Who is running Homeland Security?

As you fly over in your helicopter, give us answers, George. Give New Orleans help. Not next week.