Mike Tidwell in Orion
"To encourage people to return to New Orleans, as Bush is doing, without funding the only plan that can save the city from the next Big One, is to commit an act of mass homicide. If, after all the human suffering and expense of this national ordeal, the federal government can't be bothered to spend the cost of a tunnel from Logan Airport to downtown Boston, then the game is truly over" :
AS WE REACH THE 90-DAY mark since Katrina hit, it's time we ended our national state of denial. Turns out House Speaker Dennis Hastert had it right all along, though his reasons were flawed. We should call it quits in New Orleans not because the city can't be made relatively safe from hurricanes. It can be. And not because to do so is more trouble than it's worth. It's not. But because the Bush Administration has already given New Orleans a quiet kiss of death now that the story has run its news cycle.
As someone who dearly loves New Orleans and has experienced many of her charms, it pains me immeasurably to call for this retreat. This is not a rhetorical stunt or a shock argument meant to invite compromise talks. I mean what I say: Shut the city down and board it up before thousands more lives are lost.
In the weeks after Katrina, the American media somehow portrayed the catastrophe as a matter of failed levees and flawed evacuation plans. The "What went wrong?" coverage involved autopsies of every breached dike and a witch hunt for those responsible for the Superdome and Convention Center fiascos. But these were just horrifying symptoms of a much larger disease.
Katrina destroyed the Big Easy—and future Katrinas will do the same—not because of engineering failures but because one million acres of coastal islands and marshland have vanished in Louisiana in the last century due to human interference. These land forms served as natural "speed bumps," reducing the lethal surge tide of past hurricanes and making New Orleans habitable in the first place.
But while encouraging city residents to return home and declaring for the media audience that "we will do whatever it takes" to save the city, the President earlier this month formally refused the one thing New Orleans simply cannot live without: A restored network of barrier islands and coastal wetlands. (more)