Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday August 28, 2006 Natural catastrophes

It's been a year since Hurrican Katrina hit New Orleans and you hear quite a bit about it from the news media. It was a sad event, but, it wasn't an unexpected event. When you build a city on the coast of an ocean or gulf where there is a history of hurricanes, you can expect one to come along someday. When you build a city along the coast below sea level, you can expect flooding someday. When you build a city in the flood plain of a mighty river, you can expect flooding at one time or another.

People who build in an eqrthquake zone are taking a gamble. People who build in a tornado zone are taking a gamble. People who build on hills that have mudslides are taking a gamble. People who build in the middle of a forest without a fire break are taking a gamble. People who build close to a volcano are taking a gamble. People who build in the flood plain of a river are taking a gamble. When these natural events eventually occur, there should be no gnashing of teeth and wailing and complaining – it was a gamble that these people took for whatever reason and should have known the possible consequences. They had their reasons for taking that gamble, but it not up to the public to help them make the same mistake again.

Here in Kansas City, we have an area along the Kansas River called southwest boulevard. It is in the flood plain and it floods to some degree just about every other year. Sometimes the flood is worse than other times. People continue to rebuild, over and over, in the same area hoping that it won't happen again. Guess what – it will! These same people will turn to the government (FEMA) and cry for help and understanding each and every time. Some people even brag that they have endured flooding 5 or 6 times and that they WILL REBUILD again!

It's hard to feel continuing sympathy for people who don't want to learn from past mistakes. They are bound and determined to make the same mistake again come hell or high water. I believe in helping people who have endured misfortune, but I don't believe in helping them to be foolish and repeat mistakes. New Orleans has always been a city waiting for a catastrophe just like San Francisco. Just like Kansas City's southwest boulevard. Just like Seattle's Mount Ranier. It's just a matter or time.

Now that New Orleans has experienced this event, perhaps it's time to help remedy the situation. Why should we try to rebuild in the same place and ask for the same continuing chance of future catastrophe? Why not abandon those areas which are foolish to continue and strengthen and safeguard those areas that stand a chance? Let's help those who can't rebuild to relocate and help a new New Orleans have a better future. Surely we have the intellectual prowess to solve this problem intelligently.

Or, not – in which case, never mind.

1 comment:

  1. Please remember, it wasn't the hurricane, it was the LEVEES. This is what happened in real time: Amazing map with times of levee breaks.