Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Drowning of New Orleans

The following snip is from Scientific American, October 2001:

New Orleans is a disaster waiting to happen. The city lies below sea level, in a bowl bordered by levees that fend off Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south and west. And because of a damning confluence of factors, the city is sinking further, putting it at increasing flood risk after even minor storms. The low-lying Mississippi Delta, which buffers the city from the gulf, is also rapidly disappearing. A year from now another 25 to 30 square miles of delta marsh--an area the size of Manhattan--will have vanished. An acre disappears every 24 minutes. Each loss gives a storm surge a clearer path to wash over the delta and pour into the bowl, trapping one million people inside and another million in surrounding communities. Extensive evacuation would be impossible because the surging water would cut off the few escape routes. Scientists at Louisiana State University (L.S.U.), who have modeled hundreds of possible storm tracks on advanced computers, predict that more than 100,000 people could die. (end of snip)

While many thousands were evacuated, it makes you wonder . . . scientists have warned of this calamity for years, and yet the Army Corps of Engineers and federal officials did nothing to prepare for or avert a disaster of monumental proportions. Monster hurricane Andrew missed the Big Easy by a mere 100 miles in 1992, and in 1998 hurricane Georges was making a beeline for the city before veering just a few miles east at the last moment. Katrina veered a little at the end, as well, but the water surge following the storm broke two levees, and now we see the dreadful images that back up what scientists predicted years ago. (Now, about global warming . . . )

The human suffering going on down there is just unimaginable from our comfortable vantage point here in the Ozarks. These are the kinds of things that only happen in third world countries, right? The truth is, we've always had a hidden third world subsisting within our borders, and events like this only make that truth more evident. Have you seen the faces of the people trapped in the Superdome?

You can expect the rolls of the poor to continue to grow as the struggle to maintain a middle class becomes more and more difficult. The Louisiana coast supplies 1/5 of the nation's oil and 1/4 of its natural gas. We've already seen gas spike to $3 a gallon. Everybody feels this calamity, even here in Springfield.

And we were worried about terrorists.

1 comment:

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