I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

New Orleans = New Venice?

Around 500 AD a group of people fleeing an invasion by the Lombards from the North founded the city of Venice in present-day Italy. It was an ideal place, with a wonderful climate and perfectly situated to simply dominate sea trade in the Mediterranean. In fact, the only thing wrong with it was that there wasn't much in the way of dry land - just a string of marshy islands in a salt water lagoon. Never being ones to pass up a chance at prime real estate, the clever Venicians figured out ways to drive pilons into the lagoon to create buildable surfaces and started a long tradition of constructing their dwellings up on stilts. It looks like New Orleans may be considering a similar strategy.
FEMA: New Orleans Homes Must be Three Feet Higher

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- A long-awaited government projection on this city's flood danger recommends that thousands of homes and businesses in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina be raised at least 3 feet.

That requirement clears the way for residents to decide how, or whether, to rebuild.

"This will enable people to get on with their lives," said Donald Powell, the chief federal coordinator for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery.

Ron and I have been of a similar mind here in thinking that it may be long past time to simply write off New Orleans' current location and move it to drier ground. Mother natures has long been sending not very subtle signals to the residents that they live in a place where alligators should have sex and that's about it.

Now, you can see why people would have a very large, vested interest in keeping Venice above water. The only water threat they are facing is the very gradual one caused by global warming and the slowly sinking coast they exist on. Even disregarding the fact that they have 1,500 years invested in the project, they have a few advantages over New Orleans in that they don't face some of the huge challenges that NOLA does.

  • Hurricanes: The Gulf of Mexico gets them. The Mediterranean doesn't. It's really that simple. And history, along with random chance, indicates that every so often a really bad one will come barreling through New Orleans. I think we've seen the results already.
  • The Mississippi River: Guess what? It moves. A lot. Every year the Big Muddy tries to shift further and further to the East. It's been doing it for thousands of years and it has no intention of stopping. Halting it's progress with the technological powers of man is a titanic effort in the short term and a waste of effort in the long run.
  • The Big Quake: Contrary to conventional wisdom, the largest recorded earthquake to hit the continental United States while men lived here wasn't in San Francisco. It was down on the Gulf Coast. The thing is, it happened so long ago that time the only people living there were dwelling in animal skin tee-pees, so nobody paid that much attention. Remember: earthquakes don't kill people - buildings kill people. There's a huge fault line down there that's been stuck for ages and some day it's going to give again. When it does, according to a recent special we watched on the Discovery Channel, it's possible that New Orleans could drop as much as five feet lower in a single day. Even ignoring the fact that such a quake would very likely destroy any levees you'd care to build, that would pretty much be the end of the Big Easy.
Come on, people. I know it's hard, but propping up your homes on stilts is only going to work for so long. This isn't Venice, it's New Orleans. You could move the whole thing in a year or so and just get on with your lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be Nice