Monday, August 27, 2007

Should we rebuild New Orleans?

New Orleans is surrounded by water, protected by walls that can't withstand category 5 winds.

Presidential hopefuls have been giving promises and speeches lately. They've been promising to help rebuild New Orleans, bring home insurance rates down in the area, and restructure FEMA. These are good sound bites but we seem to be failing to address the basic question we should ask about New Orleans: should we rebuild it?

The Danger
New Orleans is located below the sea level. Levees and pumps are the only things protecting the city from being flooded. As we have seen in Katrina, it takes only one part of that wall damaged before you'll see entire neighborhoods being wiped out by water.

Taxpayers Paying For Risk
Initially they estimated that it would take $3 billion to redo the walls back to pre-Katrina levels. We've just recalculated the costs and now we're sitting around $15 billion. You and me will now pay $15 BILLION to wall up a city and there's truly no guarantee that it could withstand another Katrina. How's that for investment risk?

As a taxpayer, I would prefer not to pay for projects right outside of disaster zones. For instance, would you build a neighborhood right outside an active volcano? You'd say, that's insane! Well that's what presidential hopefuls are asking the American people -- build right outside of a disaster zone.

Where Should They Go?
I understand that there are a lot of people in New Orleans that are poor and are below the poverty line. I would rather invest the $15 billion in helping those individuals get an education and job training so they can work and live outside of disaster zones and flood-zone areas.

I understand the locals and a good number of the American people take pride in New Orleans and all of its rich, cultural and musical history. But when it comes to life and death, wouldn't our ancestors prefer their people be saved from yet another probable disaster?

In short, yes, let's celebrate our history and the dead men that made it, but let's also make history by learning from our past and saving lives.

No comments: