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Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later

By localroger in Culture
Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 12:00:00 PM EST
Tags: Katrina, localroger bloviates, USA USA USA (all tags)

You might be surprised how far you have to drive from New Orleans, LA to get to the Gulf of Mexico. Following the west bank of the Mississippi River along Hwy 23, you go through the separate and well-separated towns of Belle Chasse, Pointe a la Hache, Port Sulphur, Empire, Boothville, and finally over 60 miles from New Orleans the tiny oilfield supply and marina town of Venice.

At Empire the highway goes over a pretty tall bridge and on the other side of the canal, beyond the levee system, Katrina's storm surge came through with a vengeance. The roads have been cleared but everywhere along them are the twisted skeletons of steel buildings with vegetation hanging out of shattered second-story windows. A refrigerator sits atop the flooded husk of a house. A perfect square of fenceless pickets surrounds a perfectly bare concrete slab. The occasional forlorn FEMA trailer can be spotted parked on one of many slabs in a field of such slabs that was once a neighborhood. The carcass of a cow is wedged improbably in the canopy of a tree twenty feet up.

What is striking is not that the landscape looks like this; most of the coastline of Louisiana and Mississippi experienced such damage. What is striking is that it looked like this when I visited last week, in August 2006, almost an entire year after the storm came through.


You should understand that any story you hear about something this vast will bear the mark of the person telling it. A visitor, no matter how well-intentioned, will not see it the same way as one who calls the area home. Someone who lost their house will not see it the same as one whose losses were minimal. One who rode out the storm in New Orleans will not see it the same as an evacuee, nor will one who endured the belated and ham-handed evacuation of the Superdome and Convention Center see it the same as one who waited patiently in the suburbs for the electricity and relatives to return.

One who lost relatives or had to swim for his life in the flood will see it a lot differently from those of us who watched it on TV.

My Real Life job has taken me to many of the most devastated areas and put me in contact with survivors of all types, so I can hopefully distill a little of their experience into my own narrative. But don't forget as you read my account that I rode out the storm in relative safety, and came back to my house and job with minimal disruption.

As this anniversary approaches many others are making their own retrospectives. Some are following individuals to see how they've fared; others are wonking the statistics and plotting the trajectory of the economy. Some will revisit the timeline and the sequence of events, miracles and betrayals alike, which passed before and after the storms.

I have decided the best I can do is just to tell you what I have seen and what I have been told by those I've met. I can't tell you with any authority whether X government agency could have done better or whether Y election was later stolen, but I can try to tell you one thing you won't generally get from the media accounts, edited as they ultimately are by people who are Just Visiting. I can at least try to tell you what it's like to live here.

---

Outside the Zone of Destruction

The victims of Katrina were scattered in a diaspora that covered the entire continental United States. In Knoxville, TN when I went to the Sprint store to get my phone renumbered so I could receive phone calls (the 504 area code at that time still being underwater) the clerk looked at me in astonishment and said: "I've been looking at this on the news and it never occurred to me that I might have to do anything because of it here in Tennessee." There was a lot of that going around in September 2005. Shelters opened in North Carolina filled up with refugees.

As far away as Houston, Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, Atlanta, and Birmingham, real estate prices bumped up and apartments and vacant hotel rooms became hard to find. This remains a problem in closer places like Houston, Baton Rouge, Jackson, and Mobile even today. You've probably been affected by Katrina if you had to do home repairs in the last year, because the sudden demand for sheetrock, paint, and shingles has sent prices spiking and made availability sketchy. You may have also had a problem finding contractors because they flocked to Louisiana and Mississippi from all over the country to partake in the rich vein of price-is-no-object work that suddenly appeared.

The Outliers

Katrina didn't just hit New Orleans. On August 30, 2005, trees were down and almost every power transmission line shredded as far as two hundred miles inland and across a three hundred mile wide path. There were exactly four gas stations open in Jackson, MS, a city of over 50,000 people. Thousands of rural communities were cut off from civilization by downed power and phone lines and rural roads choked with fallen trees. Many of those people had to rescue themselves with chainsaws and repurposed construction equipment because all of the available resources were being directed toward New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

Almost a month after the storm, bartcop.com published an email from Washington Parish, well above sea level and fifty miles inland: "People are starving here." At that time my coworkers in Jackson, MS were driving 100 miles to buy gas to keep service vehicles running. You could not buy a gas can for any price. These shortages finally began to abate between one and two months after the storm. The rural communities had a low priority compared to the larger metropolitan areas, and a lot of them didn't see power restored for three or four months.

Trees which fell on houses rested there for months, even in areas not generally considered part of the "disaster area." Today, most of that damage has been repaired, and the millions of trees felled by Katrina have been harvested in a tidy little windfall for the logging industry. You can still see the scars, trees not felled but left leaning and trunks snapped off forty feet up, all along every road. But the most enduring legacy is a certain bitterness that it took so long for help to arrive.

Tangipahoa and St. Tammany Parishes

This is where I live. The small cities of Hammond and Slidell lie on either side of New Orleans north of Lake Pontchartrain, with Mandeville and Covington smack in the middle linked to the city by the world's longest uninterrupted bridge over open water, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. These were the first of the parishes outright closed to all traffic after the storm to be reopened. Most of the power was back on within a month to six weeks, except for some areas of Slidell and Mandeville that were flooded by hurricane Rita. Rita hit much further away than Katrina, but we were in its northeast quadrant and so took the storm surge. It wasn't very high, but it got into Lake Pontchartrain and caused more damage than we needed.

The north shore communities always were the suburban bedroom communities where the richer pond scum emigrated to avoid the crime and general nastiness of the city proper, and during the month of September every available piece of real estate was bought by people who had lost everything but who had the means to re-establish themselves. To this day property prices are insane. The other main legacy of the storm, if you don't ever have to cross the lake, is the chronic labor shortage which hits restaurants and small businesses especially hard. The labor shortage is bad everywhere, but it's worse in the more affluent areas where people simply can't afford to live on the wages paid to a bartender or burger-flipper. In the months after the storm I saw a Taco Bell in Slidell offering $12 an hour plus a signing bonus.

The wave of immigration triggered a building boom (paid for at top dollar despite the shortages and construction price increases) which in turn has caused crazy traffic and infrastructure problems. The Covington Home Depot was the busiest Home Depot in the country before Katrina, so I'll leave it to your imagination what it's like to shop there now.

Katrina also knocked out one of the three main arteries by which people get from the North Shore into the city, the Interstate 10 "Twin Span" linking Slidell to New Orleans East across five miles of open water north of the Rigolets. While that bridge was out all traffic from the East had to take I-12 far out of its way and cross the Causeway, a bridge that was already near its usage capacity in normal days before the storm.

Getting the Twin Span re-opened was a priority, and it was done ahead of schedule and on budget.

Many of the damaged and displaced sections of the bridge were re-seated, but quite a few were too heavily damaged to reuse. (The criteria for this are sketchy, since a lot of the sections of the more heavily damaged westbound span still lack proper guard rails, those edge bits having been knocked off by the pounding surf.) The empty spaces that remained when all the original concrete was salvaged were spanned by several steel prefab sections. Fortunately, none of these narrow shoulderless spans is more than half a mile or so long.

Unfortunately, they have to reduce these spans to one lane once every week or two and send a crew of workers out to check and re-tighten all the bolts. They keep working loose and nobody seems to know why.

Seeing a bunch of guys crawling around the bridge you're driving over applying torque wrenches to every bolt they can find is not the sort of thing to give you great confidence, even if you're not bothered by the Jersey barriers standing in for the missing sections of guard rail.

Once I returned home, about three weeks after the storm, the commute across the Causeway gave me a ringside seat to the city's recovery. On clear days you can see the entire city from the middle of the lake, from the Green Bridge in Chalmette all the way to the Norco refinery in the west. When I first returned, it was all almost completely dark, and I have watched as the months crawl by and the lights slowly return. To this day I remember the first downtown skyscraper to light its sign, and the day the lights were restored on the downtown Mississippi River Bridges.

East Jefferson Parish

Of the greater New Orleans metro area's 1.3 million people, about 500,000 actually lived in Orleans Parish before the storm, about 400,000 in Jefferson, and the rest in the surrounding communities including St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and the north shore communities.

Jefferson Parish isn't on the whole any higher than Orleans, but it got luckier in the matter of broken levees. I've seen one suggestion that it was a bit of a race, and that if the 17th Street Canal hadn't broken on the Orleans side, flooding Lakeview, the other side would have failed flooding Jefferson through Bucktown instead. There but for the grace of God and all that.

Houses did flood in Jefferson because the pumps famously weren't turned on in time, but they weren't flooded to the same depth or for nearly the same length of time as houses in Orleans. Most of them have been repaired. Electricity and other services were restored throughout the parish within a couple of months of the storm. But there have been fiascoes.

Quite a few people have been told that because their houses were more than "50 percent" damaged that they fall under new guidelines, often requiring them to be raised three or four feet -- a job almost as expensive as demolition and rebuilding for a slab-on-grade house. Some homeowners have presented their middle fingers to the parish and repaired without permits, but those who do will probably never be able to get insurance again. Some on the edges have hidden their damage and repaired in secret to avoid this.

I entered Jefferson Parish nine days after the storm, before it was officially opened, on a permit my company was granted to let us salvage our equipment and begin conducting infrastructure repairs. Our building was dark but mostly intact. All over town humvees patrolled, not pimped-out civilian hummers but the military ones with no air conditioning painted in camo. Billboards and trees were down all over the place. This was before the blue tarps arrived and roofs were torn up all over. The wind damage was severe, even knocking down billboards mounted on those big steel pipes. It took months to clear it all away.

Jefferson officially reopened a few weeks later and life very, very slowly rebounded to something almost normal. As late as February most restaurants, including fast-food chains like McD's and BK, were selling limited menus -- one of four value meals, no special orders thankyouverymuch. This was mostly due to the lack of trained employees. Businesses like Walgreen's and Home Depot were opening at 8 AM and closing at 5 PM, making life difficult for working people. It was a great relief to locals when those hours expanded first to 7-7, and finally only in the last couple of months to normal.

One of my coworkers who came back the day the parish reopened reports that he drove all over looking for an open restaurant, and found none -- but every single bar was open and the parking lots were full.

Life has gradually resumed its normal tenor with weird exceptions. Professionals like dentists and lawyers are working in construction or driving trucks because their regular customers aren't to be found, and that's where the money is. You can't find an apartment or vacant hotel room. And traffic remains unpredictable and hectic, the roads clogged not only with displaced Orleanians but with construction vehicles.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast

What happened to New Orleans with the levee breaches was bad, but what happened to the smaller population of the Gulf Coast was infinitely worse. From Bay St. Louis to Biloxi Katrina's storm surge came on as a 10 to 30 foot high wall of water, which swept away everything in its path. Near the pretty beach there were no houses left to save. My boss lost a house in Waveland, a town which effectively no longer exists. He spoke of a neighbor who had built himself a hurricane-proof house, raised on steel pilings and well buttressed. When they were finally allowed in to see the damage, my boss couldn't even find a pile of debris he could reliably identify as having once been his. The neighbor's hurricane-proof house was there in spirit; its foundation had survived, elevated on its steel pilings. Instead of the house a boat was sitting on it though.

Houses further back suffered the same fate as houses in Jefferson, a brief flood that tossed the contents. Some of those that weren't knocked off their foundations are being rebuilt. Up and down the coastline historic houses were destroyed, including Jefferson Davis' Beauvoir home.

Even worse, the Gulf Coast casinos, a jewel of Mississippi's new economy, were nearly all wiped out. At one time the Gulf Coast was considered, after Las Vegas and the Tunica, MS area, the third largest integrated gambling destination in the world. Of eleven properties open last August 28, only one survived nearly intact, the Imperial Palace on the lee side of Biloxi in the shadow of I-110. The Boomtown gambling boat also survived, but its land-based facility was more tightly integrated with the barge and very heavily damaged. All the other boats were either tossed across the highway or had their contents blown out into the parking lot.

Today the Isle of Capri and Palace have reopened by relocating their casinos in their surviving land-based facilities, as legislation hastily passed after Katrina allowed, and the IP finally reopened after it was no longer needed as an relief staging area. Last I heard the Boomtown was planning to open Real Soon Now. The Grand Casinos, recently acquired by Harrah's, won't reopen; the Copa, a locally owned property always trapped a bit by its location in the Port of Gulfport, has purchased the Grand Gulfport hotel and is rebuilding there. The Beau Rivage is planned to reopen despite very heavy damage; it was poorly designed from the standpoint of storm surges. Neither Casino Magic is expected to reopen and I'm not sure what will be done with the Hard Rock, which never saw a single customer since it was planned to open the September following the storm that destroyed it.

I visited the Isle of Capri (to eat lunch -- really!) on a Tuesday morning in April on my way back from a service call in Moss Point. It was packed with customers. I'll let the reader speculate on the significance of that.

Orleans Parish

You could make a case that the city founded by Bienville completely survived. At least, the parts of it settled before 1900 or so did, back when only the high land was inhabited. Contrary to popular belief New Orleans is neither hanging off into the Gulf of Mexico nor was it originally built below sea level. The older areas, the "sliver by the river" or "aisle of denial" had minor flooding or none at all. There was a lot of roof damage, people weren't allowed in to fix it until months had passed, and there was looting and a lot of other grief, but nothing like the Divine Eraser of Wrath that hit Biloxi.

The parts of Orleans that flooded were settled as part of a suburban push that began in the early 20th century. People often wonder why the pumps that keep New Orleans dry are so far from Lake Pontchartrain; the reason is simple. When they were built they were at the edge of town. When the town grew past them the pumps had to pump into canals to take their effluent into the lake, and those are the canals that breached after Katrina.

The residents of Orleans Parish have spent much of the last year waiting for FEMA to issue maps telling them how high they must raise their houses in order to be eligible for insurance coverage. After much toe-tapping and fuming those guidelines were finally issued a few months ago, to the incredulity of those who received them; my coworker whose Lakeview house had 10 feet of water was told he must raise his next house three feet. "What the fuck good is that gonna do?" were his exact words, closely followed by "and why did it take six fucking months to tell us?"

A year after the storm most of the city still doesn't have electricity, and so many water mains are damaged that the city pumps three times as much water into the system as comes out of taps. In places where services are restored water pressure is low and power is unreliable. Even where there was no flooding many structures remain heavily damaged from wind and rain and unrepaired.

Rebuilding has begun on a small scale in the most affluent of the ruined neighborhoods, particularly Lakeview. In fact, flooded houses in Lakeview have been selling for as much as 50% of their pre-flood price, as social climbers take advantage to get into a neighborhood that was out of their price range before. At one point a pile of garbage three stories high and two miles long occupied the neutral ground median of West End Boulevard in the heart of Lakeview. Those houses are being gutted or bulldozed as appropriate, and the neighborhood is expected to recover, perhaps in as little as five or ten years.

Elsewhere, the news is less encouraging. In Gentilly and New Orleans East there is less willpower and less money, and while some gutting is being done many structures still look just as they did when the water finally receded. Many of these were rental properties whose landlords can't afford to rehabilitate them in the absence of tenants. In classic catch-22 fashion their old tenants can't return because there are no rental properties to be had. Others were owned by retirees on fixed incomes, uninsured or underinsured, and their owners simply do not have the means to rebuild.

Many of the businesses along the Industrial Canal and Almonaster corridors have yet to clean up or reopen; most of them couldn't even start until April or so. That late I was at one place less than a mile from the house where I grew up (7.5 feet of water) when I needed to go online to get a driver for their computer. "Phones and internet aren't coming until next month," I was told. "The lumberyard down the street has a satellite feed and open wireless point, they've said it's OK to go park outside of their office and use theirs."

At the same time, the really big industries that are somehow "critical" manage to find the money to send us "price is no object" contracts to get them back online ASAP, as they're staffed by workers living in FEMA trailer cities that materialized when nobody else could get a FEMA trailer for any price. One of the most heartbreaking things for me has been working with people who have lost everything, who are working their asses off to return a flooded plant to operation even as their own homes lie flooded and unsalvaged.

You have no doubt heard the phrase "Lower Ninth Ward." This neighborhood was hit with fast running water from a wide break in the Industrial Canal levee, and many houses actually ended up in the middle of the street. Today, most of the streets have been cleared but otherwise the collapsed houses mostly remain exactly where they landed a year ago. You can drive around and see that a small percentage of houses have been properly gutted to keep them from deteriorating further, and the demolition and removal of unsalvageable homes has finally begun in the neighborhoods where the damage was heaviest.

This is a mostly black neighborhood, but you have to remember that in New Orleans "mostly black" means there are still a lot of white people. (The reverse has also been true since roughly the 1970's.) It is in the Ninth Ward where you will hear the most fervent assertions that the levees were bombed and that it's all a plot to gentrify the city. A lot of these houses had never flooded before and were occupied by the same people for 50 years or more, and those are the very sort of people who wouldn't have evacuated even if they could, because the evacuation would have seemed more dangerous than the threat of any storm.

It is also from the Ninth Ward that you hear some of the most harrowing tales of survival in the aftermath of the storm, as the fast-moving water came up in minutes at a point when the storm had passed and people thought they were safe. You can imagine the level of disillusion at work. The way that survivors were treated afterward with the delayed rescue through the infamous Causeway staging area did not improve their demeanor.

At this point Orleans Parish has theoretically welcomed as many as 200,000 of its original 500,000 residents back. I find this figure hard to believe but maybe the Aisle of Denial really is that wide. In any case it is Orleans that used to dominate the local political landscape, having the lion's share of the population and tax base. That is no longer true; now it's Jefferson. The result has been a seismic shift in local politics. Nobody seems to have a credible model for how that's going to shake out.

Chalmette and St. Bernard Parish

Much of the water that ended up in the Ninth Ward got there by flowing over the 40 Arpent Canal levee and through Chalmette. Katrina basically left no undamaged structures in St. Bernard Parish. Recovery has been extremely slow and it's been hampered by the nasty spill from the Murphy Oil refinery which contaminated a lot of the surrounding property.

I haven't been to Chalmette since March, so I don't know how it's doing now, but back then it was mostly deserted except for a few brave pioneers and the workers trying to restore Murphy Oil. I hear it's doing better but a lot of their population is never coming back because they've already bought houses in St. Tammany. The commute from Covington to Chalmette is a brutal 1.5 hours each way in the best of times but when your house has been swept away by a flood it might seem worth enduring.

Houma, Lake Charles, and Cameron

Much of coastal Louisiana was spared by Katrina, since the eye passed to the east of us and hit Mississippi. We weren't in the northeast quadrant where the worst storm surge is found.

Three weeks later, evil twin sister Rita fixed that bug. Hitting near Lake Charles it sent a Katrina-sized storm surge across all of coastal Louisiana, hitting the oilfield supply towns on the west side of the state with particular ferocity. I have been told of million pound capacity tanks left half-full to ballast them which were swept into the sea. Further away, two hundred miles away back in the New Orleans area, Rita managed to do what Katrina didn't and flooded the low-lying areas of the North Shore.

The oilfield town of Cameron isn't there any more. I have asked several people to clarify that statement and as far as I can tell they mean that the landscape is so altered that without a GPS you couldn't even figure out where the town used to be. It seems improbable but I've gotten the same story from several different sources.

Further east the damage wasn't quite that bad, and Rita didn't hit any major metropolitan centers (unless you consider its mostly wind-based direct hit on Lake Charles). Houma saw little flooding but the town of Dulac, to the south, was inundated. Shrimp processing plants were hit particularly hard. You don't see many blue roof tarps in these areas, but you see a lot of new construction being built on 10 foot tall concrete stilts.

The residents of these fishing communities have always known that storms were a possibility, and they are much less pissed off about it than the New Orleanians who felt their trust was betrayed by the failure of their protection system. The shrimpers know that the occasional hard hit is the price for living where the money is to be made. They are apt to laugh as they tell you what happened to the shipping container where the system they want you to fix was retrieved. ("We're pretty sure it stayed dry because we found it on top of some cars," e.g. it must have floated.)

Plaquemines Parish

I already covered Plaquemines in the preamble. Past Empire, it's all gone. There are a few FEMA trailer cities along Highway 23, no doubt mostly inhabited by the people who are servicing the oil industry. Much of the ruined oilfield infrastructure in Venice hasn't been replaced, and insiders have told me there is a real danger Venice will lose its place in the economy as the more quickly recovering places, particularly Port Fourchon on the road to Grand Isle, step in and take their business.

In Buras, just south of the big Empire bridge, the local Ace hardware franchise was washed off its foundation into the adjacent canal. It is still there to this day, the peak of the roof and sign sticking up out of the water. No effort has been made to clear it, and most of lower Plaquemines Parish is like that.

Power has been restored down the length of Highway 23. Instead of repairing the shredded lines the power company simply built new ones, leaving the old poles leaning as the storm left them with the old wires lying on the ground.

The Diaspora, Continued

I spent the afternoon of the 26th helping an old friend to move. J was planning on pursuing her graduate degree at Tulane until Katrina came through; now she's migrating to Seattle instead. After getting her bachelor's degree in her early 50's, packing to take not just her but her nine dogs to Washington seemed like a ridiculous task. But people are doing that sort of thing a lot lately.

I have yet to make good on my earlier promises to get the hell out, and like most NOLA area residents I'm casting a wary eye at the Carribbean. But the things that have been blocking me are flimsy and the risk remains. I do plan to move eventually, although it may take "a few" years instead of being by X year hurricane season. Responsibilities are such a pain.

The most striking thing about the post-Katrina landscape is not really the destruction; we remember earlier storms like Camille and Andrew, and we've always known this kind of thing was possible. We always expected that if it happened, we would respond in typical can-do American fashion and fix it. And that very simply hasn't happened. Over and over when we needed heroes we got bureaucrats instead, bureaucrats who demanded that would-be rescuers get training and "federalization" before they could be allowed to save lives, bureaucrats who put paperwork before the mammoth task of moving in desperately needed supplies, bureaucrats who put ass-covering before the critical task of setting new flood level standards so that people could begin rebuilding.

We invited the Dutch to look over the situation, with their vast and successful experience holding back an angry sea from their low-lying nation, and they said unequivocally that the problem can be fixed, the danger abated, the city saved. All it will require is money and willpower. And the leaders of the richest country in human history leaned back and scratched their chins, bureaucrats to the last man, and complained that it would be an uncalled-for handout to salvage the lives of a few hundred thousand mere middle-class families, or to protect one of the oldest cities in North America from annihilation. Nobody wants to give people the hard news that they need to raise their houses ten feet or that their neighborhood needs to be cleared, so nothing is done at all and the ruined houses sit in the hot Louisiana sun and breed mold.

Growing up in New Orleans I always knew the hurricane was a possibility, but it never occurred to me, being as I was constantly told a citizen of the wealthiest country with the best standard of living and highest technology and the most noble ideals in all of human history, that when the hurricane came my country would sit back and let one of its great cities fall into ruin.

And as I write this, a full year after Katrina, for the most part that is exactly what is happening.

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Katrina?
o Ich bin ein New Orleanian 8%
o We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard 12%
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Display: Sort:
Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later | 197 comments (180 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1 fp (2.29 / 17) (#1)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 12:12:25 PM EST

i am afraid new orleans may be reborn only as a disney theme park style attraction, that is, only the french quarter

not a living breathing real city

that was killed last year

which is a shame, as new orleans as a lifeline between worlds, a sort of mish mash of caribbean culture and american mainland culture makes it utterly unique in this world and deserving of some sort of UNESCO world heritage site type status or something

ps:

strangely enough, new orleans was the site of the first filipinos in the united states. they jumped ship from the spanish galleon trade and became known as manilamen or filipino cajuns

read all about it

want to read more?

you might not be able to, as the home housing the new orleans filipino american historian's work was submerged last year, damaging or destroying 40 years of research on the subject :-(


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

what happened to the modding of my comment? (none / 0) (#37)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:18:51 PM EST

it was like 1.5/22 and then the next second it was like 2.9/11

what the hell is going on?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

NIWS dupes (n/t) (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:23:53 PM EST



[ Parent ]
who is this asshole? (2.50 / 2) (#116)
by circletimessquare on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 08:29:13 AM EST

how fucking pathetic can you be?

i thought i was pathetic

this guy is on a whole different planet of pathetic

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Don't worry, you're still pathetic. (2.80 / 5) (#119)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 09:45:39 AM EST

How's the movie coming?

___
I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

[ Parent ]
good ;-) (none / 0) (#120)
by circletimessquare on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 09:49:53 AM EST

more details in my diary later


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Now that's a cagematch I'd pay to see (none / 1) (#183)
by Sgt York on Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 02:37:08 PM EST

NIWS vs cts. A battle for the ages.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Thank you for your wonderful first hand story. (2.72 / 11) (#2)
by Xochiquetzal11 on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 12:58:04 PM EST

I will certainly vote +1FP for this. With never being to New Orleans, and watching the hurricane happening on tv, this story gives one the true picture of what has/is happening in that area. It shows that Mother Nature surely controls life as we know it. It also shows that bureaucracy has its way of rearing its ugly head that says "thine must cover thine own ass" first! Thanks for the great update on this.

/s Mother Nature /w Global Warming (none / 0) (#36)
by Unski on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:11:43 PM EST

..and which nation (amongst several others) couldn't give a flying fuck about CO2 emissions? Answers on a postcard addressed to a year ago please..

[ Parent ]
Yeah (none / 1) (#144)
by QuantumFoam on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 05:22:01 PM EST

Because the Gulf Coast never experienced hurricanes before rich white Republicans started driving Suburbans.

- Barack Obama: Because it will work this time. Honest!
[ Parent ]

-1, not complete (1.08 / 12) (#5)
by United Fools on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 02:26:26 PM EST

This story fails to cover what happens in Eastern Mogadishu after the Islamic Courts took over!
A lot of rebuilding is going on there as well!

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
Surely some other K5'er... (none / 1) (#6)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 02:28:44 PM EST

...can give a personal account of that? I've also left out a lot about Texas and west Louisiana because I haven't seen much of them since the storm.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Excellent and thanks! /nt (2.88 / 9) (#8)
by terryfunk on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 03:03:22 PM EST



I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

cities are rarely 'fixed' after such disasters (2.91 / 12) (#9)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:01:23 PM EST

After catastrophic disasters, a city is generally either abandoned, falls into obscurity, or is completely rebuilt as essentially a new city.

The latter (build anew on the same spot) only really makes sense if there's a feeling that this is a freak disaster of sorts (like being burned to the ground in a war), or that new building technology can mitigate the problem (perhaps by reducing the risk of fire or earthquake damage). More importantly, the importance of the location has to be such that it's worth rebuilding there rather than somewhere else (or the country has a huge shortage of land, but that's definitely not a problem in the U.S.).

The first two are more common.

Port Royal, Jamaica, used to be an incredibly prosperous port, famous as a hedonistic sort of place pirates would stop in at. It was built in a prime location for being a port---on a sandspit protecting a nice natural harbor. Unfortunately, sandspits tend to liquefy during earthquakes, and the one in 1692 sunk the city. There were some half-hearted attempts to rebuild it, but a continuing string of disasters (fires, hurricanes, etc.) consigned it to history, and nearby Kingston—located near enough to the harbor to take advantage, but not precipitously out on a sandspit—took over its role from a more secure location.

Galveston, Texas suffered a less severe version of that fate following the devastating hurricane of 1900. The city was rebuilt, but never to anywhere near its former stature, as technology had advanced to the point where there was no longer a need to have a large port city in Galveston—it was more convenient to dig a canal to nearby Houston.

Barring a huge expenditure of money to maintain New Orleans just for the sake of maintaining it, I would say the most natural thing, given current technology, would be to move most of its port operations to Baton Rouge.

Can't be done (3.00 / 4) (#13)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:27:52 PM EST

to move most of its port operations to Baton Rouge.

The river is shallower and narrower at Baton Rouge than it is at NOLA, and all port facilities are operating at maximum capacity as it is. The rail lines, including the Huey P. Long bridge, all converge on NOLA. The roads and other infrastructure of BR are totally inadequate to take over NOLA's role even if the locations available for port facilities were adequate, which they aren't.

Like it or not, the US needs NOLA. Even after Katrina NOLA today is a much bigger city than Galveston (much less Port Royal) ever was. We can throw that away, but you might be surprised how expensive that option is. Saving the city might make more sense.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

are the port operations actually in NOLA? (2.50 / 2) (#15)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:29:13 PM EST

My understanding is that most of the modern operations are upriver of the city. Not all the way towards Baton Rouge, but a good part of the way there.

Upgrading Baton Rouge's infrastructure will cost money, sure, but so will constantly rebuilding New Orleans below sea level.

[ Parent ]

They are all up and down the river (2.66 / 3) (#19)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:35:52 PM EST

What you need to understand is that it's not about operations; it's about space. Port operations occupy 100 percent of the riverbank from roughly Empire up to Baton Rouge, beyond which everything must be transferred to barges because ocean-going ships can't make it under the highway 190 bridge.

The US cannot afford to lose any of this anchorage and dock space. Baton Rouge simply does not have the shipping capacity nor dock space to absorb NOLA's port traffic, and it never will. There will always have to be SOMETHING where NOLA is, just as there will always be people willing to live in places like Dulac to go shrimping. It's not a question of abandoning NOLA, it's a question of what it will look like.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

also, if you're right, shouldn't it just happen? (3.00 / 4) (#20)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:36:28 PM EST

If New Orleans really is an incredibly valuable port—to the point where it's worth maintaining even below sea level in a frequent hurricane zone—shouldn't the money for rebuilding be provided by the people to whom it's valuable? If companies really can't find reasonable alternatives to using New Orleans as a port, they should be prepared to pay the costs of maintaining it—shouldering the extra costs of maintaining facilities in such a location, and paying people generous wages so they'll be able and willing to live in such a location.

I think the reason that hasn't happened is that while New Orleans certainly has some commercial value, it doesn't have enough commercial value to overcome the huge inherent costs of its location. So if it's to survive as a major city, it will have to be subsidized for non-commercial reasons, like the rest of the country liking the idea of maintaining its history.

[ Parent ]

It's what the government is for (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:46:33 PM EST

The basic infrastructure wasn't built by private industry; it was built by the government. The Huey P. Long railroad bridge, which is an absolutely critical part of the nation's rail infrastructure, was built by the government. Some things are too big or the rewards are too spread out for private enterprise to do, and that's why governments exist. Some things are too big for local people or even states to tackle, and that's why the original 13 colonies formed a federation instead of going it alone individually. This kind of thing is exactly the reason the Federal Government was created in the first place.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
that's definitely not true (2.00 / 2) (#25)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:56:23 PM EST

I'd challenge you to find me huge non-military infrastructure projects paid for by the federal government in the first 50 years of the country. The federal government was created for mutual defense initially. Major ports of the era were built and maintained by the local cities or states

Even today those old ports up and down the eastern seaboard are still operated in that manner: either by city or state authorities, or the occasional joint (but non-federal) organization like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In fact, that latter one isn't subsidized at all by its states: It's completely funded by tolls and other usage fees.

[ Parent ]

non-military? (none / 1) (#30)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:02:55 PM EST

Well, in those days the big infrastructure project was the military. And while it's true that most ports are private ventures, the infrastructure around them such as canals and bridges isn't. IIRC the Huey P. Long rail bridge was actually a state project but the interstate highway system is heavily subsidized by the Feds, as is the rail infrastructure in general in these days. The shift from military to non-military common causes is more recent, but in general the purpose of the federation was to make possible projects, particularly but not exclusively national defense, which were too big for the individual states.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
in the 20th century I agree with you (none / 1) (#33)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:08:29 PM EST

The interstate highway system is clearly part of a relatively recent shift towards federalization of basic infrastructure, and part of a general federalizing tendency since the 1930s, which has also led to effective federal control over things like whether private citizens can grow marijuana, and whether Louisiana has to raise its drinking age to 21, none of which would have been contemplated in an earlier era.

Even the transcontinental railroad was mainly "subsidized" only by giving out federal land to the railway companies, but in that era the federal government was handing out land right and left to various takers anyway. The actual construction was paid for by the railroad companies and some European investors.

[ Parent ]

Well the right hand gives and the left hand takes (2.50 / 2) (#40)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:44:58 PM EST

Obviously I probably agree with you that the insane war on some drugs is bad, let alone the unconstitutional elevation of Louisiana's drinking age. Much of this is accomplished extralegally by blackmailing the states with their own tax money, something the Founders surely would not have approved.

But projects like the Interstate highways, the rail infrastructure, certain large bridges, and let's not forget space exploration are examples of the good that can occur when the entire country works together as a whole instead of 50 separate states. The thing is, oil and natural gas and sugar and raw materials of all other description come through our port to make life easier in the rest of the US. That might make preserving our fair city more of a national priority given that the resources and technology certainly do exist to save it.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

I think the people who use it should pay (none / 0) (#42)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:51:55 PM EST

Why shouldn't the importers of oil, natural gas, sugar, and raw materials of all other description pay for the facilities needed to import them? Ultimately, that will mean the rest of us pay for the facilities indirectly through the prices for imported goods, which is the same effect as directly subsidizing, except that the goods would actually be priced correctly.

[ Parent ]
Well, that's pretty much everybody (none / 1) (#46)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:56:31 PM EST

You may not realize it but you use the subsidized rail system; you use it every time Cytec ships a railcar of suphuric acid out toward Silicon Valley and every time an intermodal container of cheap electronics gets offloaded and shipped toward the interior. Sometimes there aren't good mechanisms for shifting the costs to the users, and I'd say again that that's one of the things a good government should be doing.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
well, I disagree with that (none / 1) (#47)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:59:06 PM EST

I think such subsidies should be removed. The costs to consumers could easily be offset by also removing some tariffs, e.g. the huge ones on sugar. (As a nice side effect, doing that would shift us back towards sugar, away from godawful subsidized corn syrup.)

[ Parent ]
Well, left hand right hand etc. (none / 1) (#51)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:05:14 PM EST

I would very much not want to live in a world where it was all the invisible hand of the free market. I would agree that top-down influence is overused and misused in a lot of cases but that doesn't mean such is always the case, and I certainly don't think it would be the case to rebuild (or to fully subsidize the relocation of) New Orleans.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
I could support it if thought-out and sustainable (none / 1) (#54)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:08:55 PM EST

What I most oppose is just shoveling buckets of cash around. The federal flood insurance program, for example, has basically been a huge gift to developers to build beach houses in unsustainable locations where they would be impossible to insure otherwise, and where there really shouldn't be houses at all (unless someone is willing to bear the costs of a house there themselves). Most post-hurricane bailouts have a similar flavor.

If there were some sort of plan that was well-thought-out and sustainable, and it wasn't unreasonably expensive (perhaps just moderately expensive), I could support it. In particular, it would be nice if it were limited to some sort of compact urban core; I don't have think the federal government should be subsidizing the construction and maintenance of sprawling suburbs across the delta.

[ Parent ]

I'm with you there (2.50 / 2) (#61)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:25:12 PM EST

Shoveling buckets of money has already been the order of the day and it hasn't worked. The local political order has to be overcome; there was a window of opportunity when it could have been killed with kindness but that's passed, and now everyone is out looking for #1 again. I am certainly not advocating that we just write a blank check for people like Ray Nagin to spend at whim. Of course we have overcome such obstacles many times in the past to do great things, and we could do so again if we cared. But it's obvious that we don't.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
nobody seems to have much of a vision (none / 1) (#67)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:31:35 PM EST

I think the general public sees a malaise of sorts and no obvious way to fix it, so just ignores it. Someone would have to come up with a concrete, simply explainable, likely-to-work vision of how to fix things, and then I think selling it wouldn't be a huge problem. Nagin's administration could come up with a plan and try to sell it; or Blanco's could; or Bush's could; but none of them seem to be on the ball.

[ Parent ]
Actually, it was the locals who bough the Dutch (3.00 / 3) (#68)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:38:08 PM EST

Don't sell the locals completely short; they orchestrated the most successful evacuation of a major city in modern history, and it certainly saved tens of thousands of lives. I would never have thought it possible had I not lived through it myself. They are contentious, selfish, greedy, and mostly short-sighted, but when it mattered they came together and worked out their differences and got the fucking roads cleared so we could evacuate 1.3 million people in less than 40 hours.

I wouldn't trust them with managing the upgrade but they knew where the expertise was and they sought it; I gotta give them credit for that. The problem is there is no way it could be funded locally. That gets us into a whole 'nother round of intraagency wrangling, and it took over 5 years to get the contraflow evacuation plan to work (and JUST in the nick of time, as it had failed only three weeks before).

As I said in the article, WE NEED HEROES, AND ALL WE GOT IS BUREAUCRATS. Note the quotes I selected for the poll, which I think exemplify the difference between an era when we conquered the Moon versus an era when we can't even salvage a very salvageable major US city.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

nonlocal funding for local concerns (none / 1) (#142)
by zenofchai on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 04:07:22 PM EST

The problem is there is no way it could be funded locally.

Then you admit the city was not self-sustainable? Or, that non-locals were not correctly valuing the contribution of NOLA to their lives? Nobody gets a free ride from the TANSTAAFL and WHYDFML trains.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]

Sure the city is sustainable (none / 1) (#146)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 06:34:54 PM EST

If the oilfield royalties came here, and our income taxes stayed here, and we were only worried about sustaining enough infrastructure for the benefit of our local population it would be dead simple. But we don't get the royalties from the natural resources that flow from the Gulf to you via our ports, nor do we see most of our tax money coming back here, and BTW if it wasn't for us you'd probably be paying five bucks a gallon for gas right now instead of just three. So I think all things considered maybe the usual Libertarian arguments do not apply in this case.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
interesting (none / 0) (#150)
by zenofchai on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 09:27:49 PM EST

first of all, my vehicle runs on 100% biodiesel produced from locally reclaimed vegetable oil waste. but that's a niche case.

If the oilfield royalties came here

Why don't they? I'm not getting any oilfield royalties.

And our income taxes stayed here

Why don't they? I'm paying taxes, too.
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The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 1) (#151)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 09:36:35 PM EST

Why don't they? I'm not getting any oilfield royalties.

You must not live in Alaska then. They actually have a negative income tax because of their oil industry. Yes, the state government writes checks for the citizens every year. What a concept.

I'm not asking for that so much as for the money generated here to stay here as much as necessary to secure the place before being spent on bridges to nowhere, boondoggle wars, and increasing the value of Halliburton stock. (Heck, I'm even OK with the Halliburton thing if they spend their ill-gotten gains here.)

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

I should have been more clear (none / 1) (#157)
by zenofchai on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:17:28 AM EST

I am not getting any oilfield royalties from Louisiana, to my knowledge.

I'm not asking for that so much as for the money generated here to stay here as much as necessary to secure the place before being spent on bridges to nowhere, boondoggle wars.

Once the federal government gained the power to unilaterally shift large sums of money from state to state we were kind of hosed.

Heck, I'm even OK with the Halliburton thing if they spend their ill-gotten gains here.

I know this was a paranthetical, but that reeks of the "if I can't play in the sandbox, I'm going to shit in it" mentality that leads to half of the support for either of the major parties. Basically, a lot of folks are pissed that the federal government abuses the crap out of them, but instead of pushing for change in this basic fact they push to have the abuses be something more in their favor.

In other words: liberals can't be pissed that Bush is stacking the courts with conservative judges, because they were pleased as pipers for a good long while with a powerful, liberal, judicial branch.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]

while we're on the subject of ray nagin (none / 1) (#134)
by aphrael on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:09:21 PM EST

why did the voters of nola re-elect him?

[ Parent ]
Vote was 52% to 48% of 50,000 voters (2.50 / 2) (#136)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:33:40 PM EST

Only about 10% of the original population voted in that election, and a lot of those were bussed in. There is a lot of bitterness about the election among people who wanted a change. A lot of them feel the election was stolen. I have mixed feelings about it; I don't think the vote was very legitimate, but OTOH I personally think Nagin did a very good job on the evacuation, and a lot of crap was dumped on him (and Blanco) to deflect blame from the Feds. Since making the evacuation go right undoubtably saved tens of thousands of lives I'm inclined to cut him some slack, and I guess a lot of those who bothered to vote were too.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
You'll probably be waiting a while then (2.50 / 2) (#60)
by I am teh Unsmart on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:25:01 PM EST

because there are petting zoos in places that voted correctly during the last election that need protection against terrorists, and important bridges in Alaska to be built. On the bright side you at least get to watch the rest of the country pay out of the rectum for petroleum and natural gas products every time there's a a strong breeze in the Gulf from here on out.

I donated a paltry $5k last year after the destruction, but I would donate more to some kind of organized rebuilding effort. I don't see a point in the union if we don't come to each other's need. If I have no particular incentive to come to the aid of a ravaged city that plays an important role in the economy of the nation, what incentive do I have to pay to defend it from military invasion? I might as well just say, "Pay for your own army."

[ Parent ]

Thank you, sir (none / 0) (#62)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:26:53 PM EST

If people such as yourself comprised more than 0.001% of the population this would be a much more fun place to live.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
aye, there's the rub (none / 1) (#125)
by zenofchai on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 11:18:33 AM EST

If I have no particular incentive to come to the aid of a ravaged city...

There is a very, very wide sentiment that Katrina "cleansed" NO of "backwards welfare people". The last thing these people want is to rebuild, they wanted to tear it down in the first place.

Corrollary: If the government weren't already taking thousands of dollars from me to spend on various things which I highly disapprove of, or wasting it incredibly inefficiently and misuidedly and disastrously on causes I do approve of, then I would have much more willingness and ability to help. (Sent a couple hundred NOLA's way which is barely a pittance and maybe buys 1 or 2 federally purchased hammers and a box of nails?)

There was a time that when there were needs in the community, the community formed committees and figured that shit out. Somewhere along the line that became the government's job. And so we all quit.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]

It depends (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by MrHanky on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:45:15 PM EST

My own town has been razed by fire several times and rebuilt. It doesn't have all the same architecture, of course, but is still considered to be pretty much the same city. I think a city is most likely to be rebuilt unless there's a good reason not to. There were good reasons for not rebuilding Port Royal, and there may be some good reasons for abandoning New Orleans. On the other hand, there may be solutions to NOLA's problems, just like we solved most of our fire problems.


"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]
I think solutions are harder in this case (none / 0) (#27)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:59:33 PM EST

Fire problems have largely been solved in the modern era: There are still fires, but our construction codes no longer allow for huge fires to sweep an entire city in hours.

"Solving" hurricanes is a bit more tricky. It's more a matter of attrition and constant maintenance, since you can't reasonably fix the structural problem of being on a coast below sea level. That's less comparable to the structural changes in places like Chicago that have made fires much less dangerous, and would be more like Chicago rebuilding after the great fire with identical types of buildings, but deciding to maintain a permanent staff of 100,000 firefighters.

[ Parent ]

The Dutch have done it, and say it can be done. $ (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:04:35 PM EST



I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
they don't have hurricanes (n/t) (none / 0) (#35)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:09:14 PM EST



[ Parent ]
They have just as bad if not worse (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:41:38 PM EST

Check out the weather in the North Sea sometime, it makes the Gulf of Mexico look quite tame except for our occasional cyclones, and while not cyclonic North Sea storms generate winds and waves equal to anything a typical hurricane is capable of dishing out.

The Dutch have designed for this, and when they visited New Orleans in the months after Katrina they knew what happened and what was possible.

They say it can be fixed.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

nothing as strong as Katrina (none / 0) (#45)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:56:16 PM EST

As far as I can find, the strongest European windstorm on record was comparable to a Category 3 hurricane. Most "extremely severe" windstorms are comparable to Category 1 or 2 hurricanes. Certainly nothing with 175 mph sustained winds and 30-foot storm surges.

[ Parent ]
Didn't you get the memo? (2.50 / 2) (#53)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:07:59 PM EST

Katrina was only a cat 3 storm when she hit. Meanwhile, the Dutch know what is possible and they claim it is possible to engineer against even a 5. They are the experts, we asked them, they answered.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
do they have an estimated price tag? (none / 1) (#55)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:10:36 PM EST

The last time the federal government got involved in a huge infrastructure project that I can remember is Boston's Big Dig, and that turned out peachy as I recall.

[ Parent ]
As a matter of fact (none / 1) (#56)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:18:25 PM EST

I think it came out to something like what we are spending every 2 months in Iraq. Also, in what way did the Dutch advise us on the Big Dig?

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
well, nobody here said Iraq was a good investment (2.50 / 2) (#64)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:27:43 PM EST

The Dutch didn't advise us on the Big Dig, but it was a project that is similar to what seems to be proposed for rebuilding New Orleans: federal money subsidizing a complex locally-administered project with some federal involvement. The Big Dig was also forecast to cost a lot less than it did.

My opinion of the governments of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the U.S. are not high enough that I have confidence it won't become a similar boondoggle.

[ Parent ]

The Big Digs... (none / 1) (#162)
by ktakki on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 06:01:27 PM EST

I lived in Boston for almost all of the duration of the Big Dig project. Yes, it went massively over budget. But it was late-stage cost cuts that led to the failure of the ceiling tiles (the original plans called for lighter weight corrugated steel instead of the cheaper but heavier concrete tiles), along with private-sector contractor malfeasance (final pull tests that were supposed to be performed were not, some concrete for the slurry walls were not up to spec, etc.).

But no one disputes that the project had to be built. The elevated Central Artery built in the '50s was (1) too small for amount of traffic it carried and (2) an eyesore that separated downtown Boston from the North End and Waterfront. The original estimates may have been low-balled in order to expedite funding: as the project entered the first stages, engineers began to realize how difficult the task would be. Water, gas, electrical, and steam lines, some of them dating back to the late 1800s, had to be relocated in order to accomodate the tunnels. Many of these lines were uncharted. The old Central Artery had to stay operational while eight lanes of tunnel were dug beneath it.

That the Federal government had to get involved was a no-brainer: the project involved I-90 and I-93.

What no one notices is the other Big Dig: an upgrade of Boston's water and sewer systems, involving the construction of a treatment plant on Deer Island, a tunnel beneath Boston Harbor connecting the North and South shores, and a nine-mile long tunnel to carry secondary treated waste water out to the ocean. This was in response to a ruling handed down by a Federal district court judge. The project came in on time and under budget, and both the Charles River and Boston Harbor are cleaner than they've ever been since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

But success stories just aren't newsworthy, now are they?


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

it certainly didn't have to be built (2.00 / 2) (#169)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:45:16 PM EST

But no one disputes that the project had to be built. The elevated Central Artery built in the '50s was (1) too small for amount of traffic it carried and (2) an eyesore that separated downtown Boston from the North End and Waterfront.

"The Central Artery sucks" is not equivalent to "we should build a giant tunnel". A better solution would be to get rid of the Central Artery, and reroute the freeway away from central Boston.

New York City had ill-thought-out plans to put some huge freeways through Manhattan too, but fortunately they got scrapped before they were built. I think it works much better with the subway as the main mode of transit than if there were some huge interstate going up and down Manhattan.

[ Parent ]

Ever been to Boston? (none / 1) (#171)
by ktakki on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 11:45:37 PM EST

I mean, really. Have you ever been to Boston? Have you ever driven the Central Artery. Have you ever tried to get to Logan Airport from anywhere other than East Boston?

There was an attempt to route the highway away from downtown. It was an extension of I-95 that would have ripped through neighborhoods from West Roxbury in the south to Woburn north. It was defeated by neighborhood coalitions back in the early Seventies. Even so, it would not have replaced the Central Artery, just supplemented it.

Look at a map of Boston and tell me just where the fuck you'd relocate the highway. Try not to dislocate property owners, homes, or businesses.

Guess what: I lived in New York during the aborted Westway project. That died for the same reasons that the I-95 project died in Boston. It was a land grab, pure and simple. Building the Big Dig under the Central Artery's footprint was the fairest (i.e., no eminent domain seizures) method.

If you haven't driven through downtown Boston in the Eighties, you're just talking out of your ass.


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

yes, no, yes (none / 1) (#172)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 11:53:16 PM EST

My entire point is that people should not be routinely driving through downtown Boston except on surface streets, exactly as with Manhattan. There should not be major freeways cutting through urban areas. I've been to Boston, and gotten to Logan Airport: It's pretty easy if you take the commuter trains to/from the main part of the city and the T within the city.

[ Parent ]
counter-examples (none / 0) (#132)
by aphrael on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:07:13 PM EST

San Francisco, 1906; Lisboa, whenever it was destroyed in the 1700s; Chicago after the Great Fire; etc.

[ Parent ]
great fire (none / 1) (#161)
by garlic on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 03:00:56 PM EST

~300 people killed. 100,000 out of 300,000 left homeless. $222 million in damages (~1/3 the cities valuation). 6 km by 1km area damage. This certainly sounds less severe than NOLA.

I can't find info on speed of the rebuild, beyond hosting the world's columbia expo 22 years later.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Adjust for inflation... (none / 0) (#163)
by ktakki on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 06:11:22 PM EST

What's $222M in today's dollars?

$3,239,441,312.86 (source).

I can't find a reliable source for the total cost of Katrina, mostly because some sites calculate losses based on insurance claims ($25B - $60B) and some aggregate total economic losses ($80B - $125B) to reflect the loss of business, tourism income, taxes, uninsured damage, etc.

Suffice to say, the difference between $80B and $3B is less than that of $80B and $222M.

Also, compare with losses sustained during Hurricane Andrew (1992), which hit both Florida and the Gulf Coast: $25B of insurance claims.


k.
--
"In spite of everything, I still believe that people
are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

[ Parent ]

not much had to be done to rebuild (none / 1) (#168)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:43:01 PM EST

Just clear the rubble, and build new buildings, this time with new building codes that were aimed at preventing a repeat. No gigantic multibillion-dollar levee system required.

If all New Orleans needed were some buildings to be rebuilt, and then it'd be safe, people would be rushing to build them already.

[ Parent ]

I believe I covered those (none / 0) (#166)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:37:51 PM EST

build[ing] anew on the same spot ... only really makes sense if there's a feeling ... that new building technology can mitigate the problem (perhaps by reducing the risk of fire or earthquake damage)

In both cases, there was considerable sentiment that it could fairly easily be rebuilt in a way that would prevent the same thing from happening again. Both cities introduced building codes that targetted the problem; Chicago's basically completely eliminated it (house fires were still possible, but fast-spreading citywide fires weren't).

Something comparable in New Orleans would be raising the whole city by 10-15 feet with a dirt fill, then rebuilding. I don't see that happening, though.

[ Parent ]

and as an additional difference (none / 1) (#167)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:39:45 PM EST

San Francisco, Chicago, and Lisboa were all vibrant hubs of economic activity in ascendance. Port Royal, Galveston, and New Orleans were rather past their peaks.

[ Parent ]
completely rebuilt? (2.50 / 2) (#152)
by SFJoe on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 09:54:34 PM EST

Two cite two examples, both Chicago and San Francisco have been largely destroyed and rebuilt largely along the lines of the original. A San Franciscan from 1905 would be able to fin d his way around just fine in the post-earthquake San Francisco.


[ Parent ]
+1 FP and all (2.22 / 9) (#11)
by debacle on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:16:41 PM EST

BUT CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME PICTURES? I'LL PAY FOR THE FUCKING DISPOSABLE CAMERA.

It tastes sweet.
Oh hey look (none / 0) (#22)
by debacle on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:42:53 PM EST

It's a bunch of dupes:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/uid:68751
http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/uid:68754
http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/uid:68755
http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/uid:68756
http://www.kuro5hin.org/user/uid:68732

Where the fuck is that woman when you need her?


It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

oh noes hurricane ernesto is coming. (1.58 / 12) (#18)
by pfft stupid on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:35:14 PM EST

let's hope it destroys all of gaymerica.

O NOESSS UR GOING! (1.12 / 8) (#26)
by jangledjitters on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:57:58 PM EST



hi
[ Parent ]
oh noses i'm not! (1.42 / 7) (#29)
by pfft stupid on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:00:10 PM EST

lol

[ Parent ]
Fuck New Orleans. (1.60 / 5) (#28)
by akostic on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 04:59:57 PM EST

I mean christ, you managed to get Reggie Bush and Drew Brees in the post-season. Oh, katrina? I don't know any katrina.
--
"After an indeterminate amount of time trading insane laughter with the retards, I grew curious and tapped on the window." - osm
+1FP Nice article. (2.66 / 6) (#32)
by OlympicSmoker on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:07:00 PM EST

Now stop using the destruction of your city and the failure of your government as an excuse to stop writing fiction.

Coming Soon (3.00 / 3) (#41)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:51:31 PM EST

I did this article because (1) I asked in a diary and the poll vote was overwhelmingly in favor, and (2) NIWS had warned me that he had "like 50" dupes waiting to -1 my next story. I figured I'd see if he was teh evil enough to launch them against this one. I guess that question is answered.

Meanwhile I got 10-15 pages left to do on Revelation Passage and it will show up here in four glorious parts, even though I once vowed I'd never try that again.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Strange definition of 'overwhelmingly in favor' (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:04:46 PM EST

I count 8 of 30 comments saying you should do it.

___
I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

[ Parent ]
YFI where It is reading the word 'poll' $ (none / 0) (#52)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:06:43 PM EST



I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
You know us well enough not to trust what we write (none / 0) (#63)
by MrHanky on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:26:56 PM EST

As if I had room for a no text signifier in the subject line.


"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]
Relocation of industry (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by xC0000005 on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:01:28 PM EST

Sorry if this is called out somewhere and I missed it, but I've read that NO had a well developed manual labor, low skill industry (packaging et al). Which sections were those? I've got to wonder where the displaced citizens will find work.

Those areas must be gone, because a friend of mine is actually being baited to move a boxing operating to NO. One would think there'd be no shortage of low skill labor jobs in cleanup and reconstruction.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't

RIght now there is a huge labor shortage (none / 1) (#57)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:20:47 PM EST

Such industries as have reopened do not have enough employees. That is the ground truth at the moment. A lot of those low-tech industries might never return, but at the same time there is more work to be done than there is people to do it.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
This diagram is not to scale. (2.41 / 12) (#49)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:01:40 PM EST

localroger
---------

8==m=D ~~
                    ~~
                        ~~
                           ~
                 [ NEW ORLEANS LOUISIANA ]

___
I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

I like this diagram (3.00 / 5) (#66)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:30:09 PM EST

However, I think you typed my nick where you intended to type GEORGE W. BUSH.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Did he write a masturbatory retrospective too? (3.00 / 6) (#70)
by The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:47:41 PM EST

I doubt it, I hear he doesn't care about black people.

___
I'm a pompous windbag, I take myself far too seriously, and I single-handedly messed up K5 by causing the fiction section to be created. --localroger

[ Parent ]
How do you know (3.00 / 7) (#72)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:50:11 PM EST

...that he doesn't care about black people masturbating?

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
WTF is wrong with LA? (2.58 / 12) (#59)
by godix on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:21:27 PM EST

Flordia is hit every year by a hurricane at one point or another and fairly often it's as major a hurricane as Katrina was. Yet we don't hear horror stories of how fucked up the place is a year later. Florida knows how to recover from this shit so what the fuck is wrong with New Orleans? You have federal money to recover, although personally I wish you didn't. You have tons of private donations, considering the news coverage this got probably more than any single FL hurricane got. You have experts around the world telling you how to recover, how to survive the hurricane next time, and basically how not to be a fucking retard about it. So why the hell is New Orleans and LA in general still this fucked up?

I know this sounds like a troll but I'm not really trolling. I honestly can't understand how the city and region is still screwed considering how much aid has been sent to New Orleans. Either the people in charge down there are so god damned moronic that a retarded mongoloid who just shit hims Depends is thinking 'Damn dude, you guys are dumb' or the people in charge down there are intentionally fucking up for whatever reason (probably corruption. This is New Orleans after all). Either way, I fail to see why I should give a shit about a place that's so backwards that even Flordia, land of 'I can't figure out how to put a mark next to Gores name', outperforms them.

If anyone really cares about New Orleans then forget about giving aid, forget about nostalgic one year memorials, forget about getting ticked off at my comment. Instead go lynch your fucking politicans and elect someone who isn't a complete fuckup for gods sake. And quite blaming the damned federal government already. It's YOUR city. YOU fix it.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

FL has never had this kind of hit (2.83 / 6) (#65)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:28:47 PM EST

Never, not once. They've had as strong but not over such a wide area, and they've had as devastating but not to such a populous city. Will Tampa or Miami get hit one day? I bet it will help then that THEIR governor is not only a Republican, but the President's brother.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
what about Andrew (1992)? (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:52:46 PM EST

It was category 5 at landfall, and a direct hit on South Miami, close enough so that even central Miami had cat 3+ winds. Of course a near miss south is better than a near miss north due to the cyclonic motion, but with category 5 hurricanes most of the damage is from the embedded vortices, so that doesn't help you too much.

[ Parent ]
I think I specifically mentioned Andrew (none / 1) (#86)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:07:49 PM EST

Andrew was a very small storm compared to Katrina and Rita. It did a lot of damage but over a rather limited path. Very similar to Camille in some ways. Had Katrina taken Andrew's path, we would probably still be debating the wisdom of rebuilding Miami.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Bullshit (3.00 / 6) (#102)
by godix on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 10:10:40 PM EST

Hurricane Katrina hit with 125 MPH winds and killed over 1800 people.

The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 is considered the most intense to have ever hit the US mainland. It had an estimated wind speed of 160 to 185 MPH when it hit Florida then rolled right over Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina before leaving land by the coast of Virgina. Certainly you can't claim that isn't as wide an area as Katrina hit and I'm quite sure that there are at least one or two populous cities somewhere in those states. It caused 423 deaths. A large percentage of those deaths were by railroad workers who were unable to evacuate. Note, when I say they were unable to evacuate I don't mean that there were dozens of school buses sitting around unused like New Orleans had. I mean that had no way other than walking to get the hell out of the area.

While we're at it, here's some more hurricanes that have hit just as intensely or more so than Katrina:

Hurricane Camille hit MS with high windspeeds (no reliable measurement avalable. Estimates range from 160 MPH to 205 MPH). It caused 296 deaths. Apparently your neighbors have figured out how to prepare for hurricanes at least.

Hurricane Andrew had 165mph winds when it hit southern FL. It killed 65 people. Incidently, in regards to your dismissing Andrew and your 'nothing hit a populous area' claim. Here is a picture of Hurricane Andrew as it hit land. Notice that big red blob just as it hits shore? Guess what that area is called. It's Miami-Dade county, home to around 2 million people in 1992 when Andrew hit. By the way, New Orleans had roughly half a million population when Katrina hit.

New Orleans itself has even survived previous hurricanes of similar intesity. The New Orleans Hurricane of 1915 is estimated to have hit with 130 MPH winds. It caused 275 deaths, or in other words, over 1500 less deaths than the exact same city being hit by a hurricane of similar force 90 years later.

As far as the mayors party or being the presidents brother, you're totally full of shit. FEMA isn't meant to be a first response organization and it certainly isn't meant to direct evacuations. The federal government has realized that it is much more difficult to direct emergency response from Washington DC, which is astounding if you consider the federal government rarely admits it isn't the best way to handle things. Anyway, by design the local and state government are supposed to perform the roles og evacuation and first response. Instead of blaming a President who's job isn't hurricane preparation and disaster response or blame a government organizations who's job isn't hurricane preparation and disaster response maybe, just maybe, you should blame the people who's job is hurricane preparation and disaster response. The single biggest failing of the federal government response to Katrina is that they relied on Ray "Evacuate? Provide safe refuge? Care for the victims? Fuck that shit" Nagin and Kathleen "boy it's windy, maybe I should finally do something" Blanco to show at least some minor spark of competence.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

I must have missed the part... (2.25 / 4) (#118)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 08:45:00 AM EST

...where any of those hurricanes destroyed over 300,000 buildings. Yes, they were more intense; Camille was much more intense, but none of them managed to destroy so much property either in a densely populated city OR over such a wide area. That's what I was talking about.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Not a Minor Nit (2.25 / 4) (#137)
by virg on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 02:59:07 PM EST

> I must have missed the part where any of those hurricanes destroyed over 300,000 buildings.

There's a good argument to be made that the hurricane didn't destroy that many buildings, the flooding did. There's a good argument to be made that the failing levees is the reason why there was widespread flooding. There's a good argument to be made that plenty of folks knew the levees and other infrastructure wasn't up to the task it was expected to hanndle. And lastly, there's a good argument that the local governments of LA and New Orleans are responsible for not reacting to the problems with the levees and infrastructure. Sorry, but to be blunt I find little reason not to lay blame at the feet of your government for not doing a better job before (much less during or after) the storm passed by.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Nope (2.33 / 3) (#138)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 03:21:15 PM EST

There's a good argument to be made that the hurricane didn't destroy that many buildings, the flooding did.

No, there isn't. Regardless of all other circumstances without the hurricane there would have been no flooding, any more than there would have been in Biloxi.

There's a good argument to be made that plenty of folks knew the levees and other infrastructure wasn't up to the task it was expected to hanndle.

No there isn't. Although you could make the case (by bending a lot of numbers) that maybe Katrina was only a 3 the moment it hit and therefore they should have held, Katrina was also a physically huge storm that kicked up a lot more waves and a much bigger storm surge than any cat 3 in history. It is the waves that pounded down the seawalls that failed, and they were NOT typical of a cat 3 storm.

As for a cat 4 or 5, everyone has always known we'd have a major problem there, and at EVERY level people preferred to whistle and hope for the best than to fix the problem.

And lastly, there's a good argument that the local governments of LA and New Orleans are responsible for not reacting to the problems with the levees and infrastructure.

NO THERE ISN'T. The local governments did everything in their power, and actually created a miracle that saved tens of thousands of lives getting the evacuation on as well as they did. They signed all the paperwork they were expected to sign, they exhausted every resource at their disposal, and then like any other US community when they had done all they could they waited for help which they had every expectation based on past promises and past performance of receiving.

Sorry, but to be blunt I am really sick of hearing apologies for the massive failure on the Federal Government's part to hold up its end of the social contract that starts with me personally sending them 30%+ of my income in the middle of April.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Responses (2.25 / 4) (#143)
by virg on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 04:16:37 PM EST

> Regardless of all other circumstances without the hurricane there would have been no flooding, any more than there would have been in Biloxi.

This is not a rational rebuttal. Without the city being there, there'd be no flooding either. The fact is, the city has been hit by hurricanes before that didn't cause flooding, and those hurricanes didn't destroy a lot of buildings. The flooding didn't happen until after the storm itself had passed. Most of the buildings didn't suffer significant damage until the levees gave way. Therefore, saying that the flooding did the damage stands as it is. Since my argument was that the local governments were directly at fault for not doing more about the problems with the levees, your rebuttal fails to rebut.

> As for a cat 4 or 5, everyone has always known we'd have a major problem there, and at EVERY level people preferred to whistle and hope for the best than to fix the problem.

You stole your own thunder on this one. If the governments of NO and LA weren't doing anything worthwhile about the problem, what reasonable expectation was there that the federal government would do it? If it was that important why didn't the city and state come down even harder on local businesses and residents? Don't like that idea because you have to send so much money to the federal government? Then let me ask you how much federal money gets put into New York harbor. It's rather less than you think.

> The local governments did everything in their power, and actually created a miracle that saved tens of thousands of lives getting the evacuation on as well as they did. They signed all the paperwork they were expected to sign, they exhausted every resource at their disposal, and then like any other US community when they had done all they could they waited for help which they had every expectation based on past promises and past performance of receiving.

Now it's my turn to be blunt. I have read an awful lot of what happened, and I simply don't believe that the local governments did everything in their power. I don't believe they did nearly a part of what they could have done, both before and after the storm. You can talk all you like about the evacuation plan (and I do give kudos for how that worked) but there's a large body of evidence that a lot of stuff was thrown by the wayside for lack of funds that left a lot of people and a lot of property in (pun intended) deep water in the event of a disaster. Where was the push in your legislature to pour money drawn from port fees back into shoring up the infrastructure? Where were the property tax increases to drive the building of pumping systems that would actually work if a levee failed? The fact is that the people who were getting rich off of New Orleans weren't really concerned about such things, and your local government has been playing "cover my ass" for decades, not just since the storm last year. You can get indignant all you like about how the rest of the country isn't holding their end up, but your city had a reputation for the worst corruption since Chicago for a long time before 2005. You can't realistically expect that to evaporate when you need money, especailly since you still have the same politicians in your capitol. You said it yourself. Why are there people working their butts off getting a flooded plant back into operation while they're unable to restore their own houses? Why do you let your local government tolerate that? Why aren't the factory owners being driven to put at least some of their money into their workers' well being? Like it or not, it's not the federal government's job to make your bed. Sure, they've screwed up a bunch of the aftermath, but again I argue that your state and your city are ultimately responsible for readiness, and in many ways your governments failed you.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
asdf (2.00 / 2) (#149)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 09:19:37 PM EST

Me: without the hurricane there would have been no flooding

This is not a rational rebuttal.

O RLY?

Without the city being there, there'd be no flooding either.

Yes Captain Obvious, that is another way to look at it.

The fact is, the city has been hit by hurricanes before that didn't cause flooding, and those hurricanes didn't destroy a lot of buildings.

And you call what *I* said irrational? At least what I said wasn't just plain freaking wrong.

Most of the buildings didn't suffer significant damage until the levees gave way.

O RLY? Tell that to the people in Jefferson Parish who did not experience levee-failure related flooding. While yes, a lot more damage was done by the levee failures, a hell of a lot of damage was done before they failed. Take it from someone who drove through Jefferson 9 days after the storm.

If the governments of NO and LA weren't doing anything worthwhile about the problem, what reasonable expectation was there that the federal government would do it?

Well, when the government took so much of our money and sent their people from the Corps of Engineers and promised to use our money to take care of the problem, I think we had a reasonable expectation that they would actually do so. Yes, we knew the measures wouldn't hold up to a cat 5 storm, but that was a calculated risk that seemed like a good idea for a long time. The problem here is not so much that the damage happened, but that it involved so much betrayal and that when it did the flipside of that bargain, that having settled for the cheaper option we'd get some help if the worst happened, did not materialize.

I have read an awful lot of what happened, and I simply don't believe that the local governments did everything in their power.

Well bucky, I didn't read about it; I actually live here. What makes you think any individual has any meaningful say at all in that clever list of "how could you...'s" that you rattle off? The gatekeepers in all of this are the people at the top, which are not the local people. Like it or not they are the feds. They take the lion's share of the money and we have to beg them to spend it actually protecting the people they took it from instead of bridges to nowhere in Alaska or boondoggle wars. Given the resources at their disposal the locals did much more than I ever expected, and for their efforts they were swift-boated by the Administration in a blatant ass-covering exercise.

While Louisiana has a reputation for corruption what you may not realize is that that is partly because we really just have the same corruption every other place does, but we wear ours on the sleeve. I find it much more refreshing to have an openly rogueish governor like Edwin Edwards than, as my wife related to me, the guy in Tennessee who was selling pardons for $500 a pop and took out a contract on the life of the whistleblower who took him down. Where's Tennessee's "reputation for corruption?" Every state has stories like that. It's the nature of local level politics that it attracts people who want to make a buck and sometimes don't have scruples.

Even Bienville called New Orleans an "impossible but necessary" city. That hasn't changed. As long as sea travel is cheaper than air there will be a city here. The only question is whether we will rebuild it once every 50 years or once every 10, and how much you will have to add to the cost of natural gas to pay what you must to get people to live here and do what's necessary to keep the rest of the country running.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Yet More (2.00 / 2) (#173)
by virg on Wed Aug 30, 2006 at 01:14:07 PM EST

> > > Me: without the hurricane there would have been no flooding

> > This is not a rational rebuttal.

> O RLY?


Yes, really. I presented that there have been hurricanes that didn't cause flooding, and therefore you can't argue that it was the sole fault of the hurricane that the flooding occurred. If the levees had held, the damage to NO from Katrina would have been immensely less than it was, even counting in the hurricane. Therefore, if you want to argue that I'm stating the obvious, you have to target my whole argument, which has always been that the levee failures were to blame for most of your troubles.

> And you call what *I* said irrational? At least what I said wasn't just plain freaking wrong.

Nice thought, but I don't recall saying that no other hurricane caused flooding, just that there have been hurricanes that didn't. Still, even your link points up that after the levee system failed in 1965, the federal government rebuilt them bigger and better than they were. They may not have been up to Katrina, but the fact is that what was there before certainly wasn't either.

> While yes, a lot more damage was done by the levee failures, a hell of a lot of damage was done before they failed.

More than three quarters of the damage done was done by flood waters, not the hurricane itself. I stand by my assertion that flooding did the dirty work, since 75 percent fits "most" comfortably.

> Well, when the government took so much of our money and sent their people from the Corps of Engineers and promised to use our money to take care of the problem, I think we had a reasonable expectation that they would actually do so.

According to your own Betsey link, the levees the ACOE put in were better than what you had before them, and were designed with a category 3 storm in mind. What's unreasonable about that? If your city decided it needed more than that, then why is it not on your city to shore it up even more? If your city didn't, then why would you blame the feds for not doing it?

> The problem here is not so much that the damage happened, but that it involved so much betrayal and that when it did the flipside of that bargain, that having settled for the cheaper option we'd get some help if the worst happened, did not materialize.

Do you seriously want to argue that you didn't get "some help" from the federal government? It seems you're arguing that you didn't get as much right now as you think you should have, but that's a different argument. Five years from now, will the federal government have your levees rebuilt? Will you consider that repayment, or is that fact that the feds aren't renovating your city right now unforgivable despite what happens within the next year or three?

> Well bucky, I didn't read about it; I actually live here. What makes you think any individual has any meaningful say at all in that clever list of "how could you...'s" that you rattle off? The gatekeepers in all of this are the people at the top, which are not the local people. Like it or not they are the feds.

Last I checked, state legislatures can pass laws, and they often do, including laws pertaining to how businesses in their state must operate. Did anyone in Baton Rouge propose any such legislation that would state that companies must assist their workforce in rebuilding their own homes? Sure, you can argue that your legislature doesn't have to listen to individuals, but I'd assume they need to win elections at some point. Therefore, the gatekeepers aren't the feds, they're your own leaders. Why should the federal government be doing the business of telling a company in NO that they can't work their staff ragged to get the plant up without some allowance for the staff to fix their own lives? That's always been the job of the states.

> They take the lion's share of the money and we have to beg them to spend it actually protecting the people they took it from instead of bridges to nowhere in Alaska or boondoggle wars.

Get over yourself. Pork barrel has been a fault of the government on every level since the dawn of government. While you can point out a bridge in Alaska, I can point out a bridge across your own damn city in response. Do you think that there's no federal dollars in that thing? Again I point you to your own link, where the ACOE showed up and built levees. Wasn't enough? You had forty years to make them better, and even a scare from Hurricane Ivan to remind you to get on the stick.

> Given the resources at their disposal the locals did much more than I ever expected, and for their efforts they were swift-boated by the Administration in a blatant ass-covering exercise.

You seem to be operating under the idea that there's not enough blame to go around to everyone. I found plenty of faults in the federal government's handling of the aftermath. But, I also find that there's trouble right there in (under-the) river city. How many houses would that money have rebuilt? In your article you discussed foot-dragging in figuring out new building codes. Are the feds handling that these days, or is it your local government that's to blame?

> While Louisiana has a reputation for corruption what you may not realize is that that is partly because we really just have the same corruption every other place does, but we wear ours on the sleeve.

And that's a good thing ...why? Why do you tolerate open corruption? It can be argued that covert corruption exists because folks don't know about it. What's your excuse, other than not giving enough of a damn to do something about it?

> I find it much more refreshing to have an openly rogueish governor like Edwin Edwards than, as my wife related to me, the guy in Tennessee who was selling pardons for $500 a pop and took out a contract on the life of the whistleblower who took him down. Where's Tennessee's "reputation for corruption?" Every state has stories like that. It's the nature of local level politics that it attracts people who want to make a buck and sometimes don't have scruples.

The problem is that most of Tennessee's governers haven't been mired in such practices. Every state has stories of corruption, but your state has a disturbingly large number of them, and as you said yourself, it's out in the open so it seems like you aren't interested in fixing it. Again, it's not Katrina that made folks think your state is rotten at the core.

> As long as sea travel is cheaper than air there will be a city here. The only question is whether we will rebuild it once every 50 years or once every 10, and how much you will have to add to the cost of natural gas to pay what you must to get people to live here and do what's necessary to keep the rest of the country running.

I've never argued that NO shouldn't be rebuilt, nor that federal money should be withheld in the doing of it. But your statement about natural gas points to my argument, not yours. Why shouldn't the price of natural gas (and everything else that NO moves into and out of the country) be used to shore up NO against future problems? And why do you think the feds should be handling it? Let the city and your state charge what they need.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Reboot (none / 0) (#174)
by localroger on Wed Aug 30, 2006 at 02:57:03 PM EST

Point 1: Your assertion that you can somehow separate the flooding from the hurricane is just bizarre. The flooding in Betsy was almost exactly the same as that from Katrina given the smaller size of the city at the time.

Point 2: The ACOE was created because of Betsy, and they did improve the levees, and they periodically improved them (or so we were told) through the years. Local officials had very little to do with this process because back in 1965 the feds assumed control of it and they never give up anything. Besides, they have more resources than we do, so why shouldn't we have trusted them to do a better job than we could? Except that, oops, it seems the soil tests weren't done right.

Point 3: Yes there are plenty of federal dollars in the roads and bridges around here. All of those bridges and roads actually go somewhere, unlike the boondoggle in Alaska. Building bridges and roads that actually go somewhere is a good and proper function for the government at whatever level; siphoning money that could be used for useful projects and using it to build bridges that don't go anywhere is not.

Point 4: Local officials can pass all the laws they want but state laws supercede parish ordinances and federal laws supercede the state, and that's the reality local officials have to work under whether you like it or not. Raising taxes to pay for needed projects is not an option if the lion's share of tax money is siphoned out of state. I give about 30% of my salary to the Feds every April, I only give about 15% to the state via income and sales taxes. LA has 4 million residents, USA has 300 million. Do the math.

If you are arguing that we should have more control over our tax dollars, that LA should get more of the revenues from the natural resources taken (as Alaska does), that there should be more accountability in politics, I'm with you. But none of that has beans to do with the story du jour, because none of those things were operative on August 30 of last year. In the reality of that situation it was the feds who had control of everything whether that was a good thing or not, or whether you think it was a good thing or not. Promises which had been made over more than forty years were broken, and more promises were quickly made which were even more quickly broken, and it turns out our nation has so little pride in itself that nobody in charge can even manage to honestly tell people if rebuilding will be possible, under what circumstances it will be allowed, or if there will be any compensation to help the individual families who were destroyed get back on their feet. Neither the local nor state government nor the private insurance industry has the resources to properly deal with the situation; only the federal government is large enough, they have been telling us that they would since before I was born, and they have openly and repeatedly reneged on those promises.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Shutdown -r now (none / 0) (#177)
by virg on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 10:25:41 AM EST

> Point 1: Your assertion that you can somehow separate the flooding from the hurricane is just bizarre. The flooding in Betsy was almost exactly the same as that from Katrina given the smaller size of the city at the time.

It's really not. My assertion is that the failure of the levees (and the pumping system that backed them up) severely exacerbated the problem of the storm. The same held true of Betsey. In both cases, it was the levees failing that made the problem so much worse than it would have been if they'd held (or just been overtopped but not collapsed). Since the discussion following that has all been about why the levees failed and who's responsible, the argument follows.

> Point 2: The ACOE was created because of Betsy, and they did improve the levees, and they periodically improved them (or so we were told) through the years.

My turn to call you out. This link points out that the ACoE has been around for just a little bit before Betsey. More importantly, your question about trusting them to do a better job than your state did is off base, since by your own admission they did do a better job than your state. So again, why are you calling them to task for saying they'd rebuild the levees, and then doing exactly that? And once the levees were rebuilt, where was the effort on the part of Louisiana or New Orleans to add to it, or take any sort of oversight back? You can argue that your state government was unable to wrest control of the project from the feds, but I can just as reasonably argue that your state government didn't make the effort because then they'd have to cover the bill to a greater extent.

> Yes there are plenty of federal dollars in the roads and bridges around here. All of those bridges and roads actually go somewhere, unlike the boondoggle in Alaska. Building bridges and roads that actually go somewhere is a good and proper function for the government at whatever level; siphoning money that could be used for useful projects and using it to build bridges that don't go anywhere is not.

I agree completely that bridges to nowhere shouldn't be paid for out of federal coffers, but your assertion that it's only pork barrel that prevented the appropriate spending on your levees is far too big a stretch from that argument.

> Local officials can pass all the laws they want but state laws supercede parish ordinances and federal laws supercede the state, and that's the reality local officials have to work under whether you like it or not.

You're absolutely right. Now link me any relevant federal legislation that prevents local government from deciding elevation requirements in a timely manner. Also, link the federal laws preventing LA or NO from assessing and releasing money to improve local public works, like for example moving pumping stations to where they're not fighting upstream when a storm blows in, or topping the levees, or any of the other things we've been fighting about.

> Raising taxes to pay for needed projects is not an option if the lion's share of tax money is siphoned out of state. I give about 30% of my salary to the Feds every April, I only give about 15% to the state via income and sales taxes. LA has 4 million residents, USA has 300 million. Do the math.

A great point, if only I had actually mentioned raising residents' taxes. When I said ealier, "Where was the push in your legislature to pour money drawn from port fees back into shoring up the infrastructure?" I was referring to port fees, not local sales and income taxes, although I can see where my wording might have been confusing. How much of your money goes to the feds is irrelevant to my argument, since I didn't mention using tax money.

> In the reality of that situation it was the feds who had control of everything whether that was a good thing or not, or whether you think it was a good thing or not.

This is the crux of your argument, and so far you've presented nothing that makes it believeable. Sure, the feds had their hand in, and to a great extent. but you seem to think that the feds had the levees under such tight control that despite the amazing and superhuman efforts of your state and city, they wouldn't release a sigle bit of that control nor allow your state to toss a single shovel of dirt at them. I counter that your state and city left the levees as they were so they wouldn't have to foot the bill for any more of it than they were absolutely forced to, and then when it all went out to sea (or into the Lower Ninth Ward) they point fingers at the feds and pretend that they had their hands tied. Once more, I assert that there's plenty of blame to go around, but unlike you I'm willing to lay a lot more of it on your "openly rogueish" government that you seem to be. If you want to argue that, then show me what legislation your state put forth that was blocked in federal courts as to the taking back of responsibility for the levees. Show me where money was blocked from use in shoring them or for repairs. Show me the effort your state or city put forth to fix the problem instead of how many requests for federal funds they made.

I think you'll find that to be harder than you suspect.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
System is shutting down NOW (none / 0) (#178)
by localroger on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 12:30:09 PM EST

Now link me any relevant federal legislation that prevents local government from deciding elevation requirements in a timely manner.

This is the VERY FIRST link Google puts up for the phrase "flood elevation levels": link

You will note that the insurance industry follows NATIONAL guidelines set by, well isn't that our favorite federal agency, FEMA. This is because all flood insurance is underwritten by the NATIONAL Flood Insurance Program. Local officials do not have the option of setting their own Base Flood Elevation levels; if they tried everyone would ignore them.

Oops.

Better log off before this sucker goes black on me...

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Not an Oops (none / 0) (#181)
by virg on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 01:29:40 PM EST

> This is because all flood insurance is underwritten by the NATIONAL Flood Insurance Program. Local officials do not have the option of setting their own Base Flood Elevation levels; if they tried everyone would ignore them.

Well, it's the "timely manner" portion that I was driving at. If the levels are set nationally, then why was there any delay at all? If the locals didn't have any say in what was reported, why didn't they just report what the national guidelines are? As your friend commented, why did it take six months to report on something that's not their choice to set anyway?

I sense the counter to this argument coming, and that counter is that the national guidelines didn't come down for six months. Since that's a function of what insurers will buy into, negotiations for changes go through the insurance industry so that would mean the delay isn't a failure of local or federal government. You can't fault the feds for having to fight it out with insurers unless you're willing to posit government control of the insurance industry (or you're willing to ask the feds to do the actual underwriting of the policies, which they don't currently do despite your comment about underwriting in the quote above), which is much farther reaching than this discussion allows.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
You are either being willfully obtuse... (none / 1) (#182)
by localroger on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 03:18:43 PM EST

...or you don't have the slightest clue how the insurance industry actually works.

and that counter is that the national guidelines didn't come down for six months. Since that's a function of what insurers will buy into, negotiations for changes go through the insurance industry so that would mean the delay isn't a failure of local or federal government.

First of all, yes, it is the national guidelines handed down from on high by dagummint that didn't come down until nine months after the storm, and when they did come down did not reflect any reality in which any of us remember living since last September.

And it is not a function "of what insurers will buy into." All flood insurance in the US is federally subsidized. ALL of it. There IS NO unsubsidized flood insurance because if there were, it would be five times as expensive and nobody would buy it. This is completely a function of the Federal government and nobody at the local or state level or in the private insurance industry has any say at all over it.

Now, in order to provide this federally subsidized flood insurance insurers must conform to the federal guidelines, including those Basic Flood Elevations that were so slow in coming. A house that is built or renovated in defiance of the guidelines cannot be insured against flood. At all. There is no company that can or will do it, and if any tried people would laugh at the premiums they would be forced to charge, because their only customers would be people whose houses are already under water.

These "negotiations" are not negotiations, and they do not go through the insurance industry. They come directly from FEMA and the ACOE and are handed down and the insurers use them because if they don't, the feds will not assume their share of the risk when there is a claim. There is no negotiation at work there. There are only federal laws and federal guidelines which people follow when the federal government can be arsed to tell us what they are.

It is not a matter of "fighting it out with insurers." The insurers go by federal guidelines; nobody fights about that.

The insurance industry is heavily regulated at both the state and federal level, because of an unfortunate history of being even more crooked than local Louisiana politicians when there's no oversight. Insurance that isn't overwritten by federal programs tends to be regulated at the state level; this is why homeowner's insurance guidelines are different from state to state. Flood insurance is regulated by federal law and there are no exceptions.

Incidentally, the same is true of home mortgages, under a separate body of law but for very similar reasons. Mortgage agreements are all the same because they are all underwritten by the feds under common guidelines which require, among other things, insurance. And it is that link which has caused so much of the city to stay locked in a 08/30/2005 time warp. It's a one-two punch that basically prevents anyone who doesn't have $200K in cash on hand from doing anything; you can't get a loan without insurance and you can't get insurance without the BFE's and that's the case everywhere in the USA, no exceptions, local and private actions notwithstanding TYVM.

So as I said before, "Oops." Your bland assertion that locals and private enterprise should step in when the feds fail overlooks the fact that they can't because of long standing and well established laws and policies that cannot be changed at the local or private level. And this is just one tiny corner of a very annoying pattern of people who have never been within 1,000 miles of NOLA preaching about what we coulda shoulda woulda been doing if we deserved any help which we obviously don't because *insert dumbass misunderstanding*.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Defending My Honor (none / 0) (#184)
by virg on Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 11:11:13 AM EST

I'm getting to the point where I'm going to call it off since we're going in circles, and it seems we're going to have to agree to disagree. However, I'm annoyed at being called a dumbass repeatedly for stuff that's segmented out of my arguments, especially since I'm not really getting the answers I'm looking for. So, with that in mind, I'll pose a few questions to get things back to somewhere near my original argument.

First, your last paragraph. You said, "Your bland assertion that locals and private enterprise should step in when the feds fail overlooks the fact that they can't because of long standing and well established laws and policies that cannot be changed at the local or private level." Now, answer this question. Who controls the amount of money a given ship or barge pays for a given cargo at a given time at your port? Is that a federal or local decision? If it's local, why do you declare that it can't be increased by the local government? Since the start I've been proposing collecting extra money for disaster preparedness from port fees, and so far nothing has been said about it (and not just by you).

Second question. Given that you've seen a factory with workers doing double time to get it running while their homes sit in ruin, and lamenting that fact, is it possible that your local government could put in place a requirement that the owners of that factory dedicate some small portion of their employee allocation to home repairs? If not, why not? Is there a federal law that prevents it?

The biggest disagreement we seem to have is in blame passing. Even given your arguments (which are cogent and notable, by the way, and thank you for that despite the condescension), I think you're putting too much of the blame on the fedral government and not enough on your state government and city government. As I've said a few times before in this discussion, there's more than enough blame to go around, and I'm not willing to excuse the local portion any more than the fedsral portion, because both sides of this argument need to brought to task for this mess.

> A house that is built or renovated in defiance of the guidelines cannot be insured against flood. At all.

Just a minor nit to pick here, but this is only true on the failure side. If the friend you mentioned, who waited months for the BFE guideline to come down, had renovated assuming a ten foot elevation, he'd have no trouble insuring the result. Again, it's a minor point, but it's the first thing I thought when I heard he waited six months to start. If the lack of a BFE prevented his getting the money to start, then ignore the point. Of course, I tend to overbuild, so even after hearing three feet I'd have put on ten.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
OK, on a politer note (none / 0) (#186)
by localroger on Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 10:29:25 PM EST

We aren't arguing in circles, really.

Now, answer this question. Who controls the amount of money a given ship or barge pays for a given cargo at a given time at your port? Is that a federal or local decision?

That's a very good question with a very complicated answer. It's mostly regulated by international covenants. Some fees are set by agreements that go even beyond the feds. Some fees and taxes are federal. And beyond that, competition becomes a factor; if you raise them too much it really does become more economical to dock in Houston and ship back to Mississippi by rail. Raise that tax too high and you price yourself right out of your advantageous geographic location. Which is a bad thing for everybody, as it effectively destroys the port for anyone in the world who might need it.

Given that you've seen a factory with workers doing double time to get it running while their homes sit in ruin, and lamenting that fact, is it possible that your local government could put in place a requirement that the owners of that factory dedicate some small portion of their employee allocation to home repairs?

Sorry, but this makes no sense and I really have no idea what you are getting at here. They aren't doing home repairs because they can't. See next question.

If the friend you mentioned, who waited months for the BFE guideline to come down, had renovated assuming a ten foot elevation, he'd have no trouble insuring the result.

Some people in St. Bernard did exactly this, and the parish had to put a moratorium on building permits of this type. See, if the BFE's come out low, then stilt houses would be out of place in the eventual neighborhood. My friend actually contemplated exactly what you suggest, and his contractor is still trying to figure out if the existing zoning laws allow it.

While you could say this is an example of local stupidity in action, the fact is the feds could end the problem once and for all by handing down realistic BFE's which would give the local politicians the cover they need to do what the neighborhood busybodies might not like, both because of appearance and because it increases the cost of each house by 30% or so. Not to mention the fact that you have to climb a flight of stairs to get from your driveway to the ground floor. There are a lot of individuals who are unwilling to look past that if they don't have to.

And the lack of BFE's pretty much shut down all lending; you see, even if the zoning would allow it you can't just say "I'm going to exceed whatever BFE's the corps is likely to put out." You have to submit those BFE's to ANOTHER totally unrelated federal bureaucracy that governs mortgages, and you have to show that your height exceeds them. Not probably will, but does. And you can't do that if the numbers are "pending" no matter what they're likely to be. Unless you have enough cash in the bank to build your house, you are shut out.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Reasonability (none / 0) (#187)
by virg on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 12:46:16 PM EST

> And beyond that, competition becomes a factor; if you raise them too much it really does become more economical to dock in Houston and ship back to Mississippi by rail. Raise that tax too high and you price yourself right out of your advantageous geographic location. Which is a bad thing for everybody, as it effectively destroys the port for anyone in the world who might need it.

My point here is that I think there's some margin between what was in place and what would force all the shipping out of the city. Given the relative importance of the levee system and pumps to the city, I'd have figured there would be more local effort to raise the port fees to raise money, but try as I might I could find nothing proposed to do that. I'll certainly yield the point if such evidence can be shown, but I had no luck digging it out.

> Sorry, but this makes no sense and I really have no idea what you are getting at here. They aren't doing home repairs because they can't.

Is the lack of BFEs really that widespread? It seems that there are a number of sections of the city that are already well underway with repairs. Do all of the workers in the factory you mentioned live in areas where nobody is allowed to rebuild?

> While you could say this is an example of local stupidity in action, the fact is the feds could end the problem once and for all by handing down realistic BFE's which would give the local politicians the cover they need to do what the neighborhood busybodies might not like, both because of appearance and because it increases the cost of each house by 30% or so.

This goes back to the idea of who sets the BFE. I agree that it's a national guideline, and that all insurance companies have to abide by the federal guidelines. You'd have to do a lot more than that to convince me that the guidelines are set entirely without input from the companies that will write the policies, though. It's nonsensical to believe that the feds could come up with a number that would make insurance companies lose money on policies and then force them to write the policies, which means they have to fight out a BFE standard that won't cause the local insurers to throw in the towel and refuse to write policies at all. So, the negotiations have to decide where the government subsidy stops and the policy underwriters start, and again, you'd have a hard time convincing me that the underwriters aren't involved in that discussion. Given that the industry has some input, it's not just the fault of the federal government that the numbers take so long to figure out. Once again I'll say that the feds are by no means blameless for the delay, but it's not solely at their feet either.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
More (none / 0) (#188)
by localroger on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 01:23:24 PM EST

My point here is that I think there's some margin between what was in place and what would force all the shipping out of the city.

Well, it's not much; our port fees are already higher than normal because of the river pilot's fees. There is also extra sea time going upriver because NOLA is about a day's travel upriver from the actual Gulf. So we've already lost a bunch of business to other ports where that business doesn't depend on further maritime shipment upriver, which remains much cheaper than rail. There's not a lot of juice left to squeeze out of that turnip.

Is the lack of BFEs really that widespread?

It is total in every area that flooded. If your property is located in any of the neighborhoods known to have taken water -- about 80% of Orleans, all of St. Bernard, and about 20% of Jefferson Parishes -- then the BFE's were listed as "pending" and no action requiring a BFE could be taken. Even now some of those areas are "pending" and in some where levels have been set, they are considered laughable and even though progress is technically possible people are reluctant to proceed on that basis.

You'd have to do a lot more than that to convince me that the guidelines are set entirely without input from the companies that will write the policies, though.

Why? Insurance companies have no reason to care about this. They are not really in the flood insurance business, any more than your bank is really in the mortgage business; they just act as a front for a service that is really entirely owned and operated by Washington. They have no reason to care what the guidelines are; they will either get the business or not and take the cut they're allowed regardless. They don't care whether you need to build to 3 ft or 10 ft, as long as the paperwork says you met the guideline.

It's nonsensical to believe that the feds could come up with a number that would make insurance companies lose money on policies and then force them to write the policies,

The insurance companies can't lose money on flood insurance because it's underwritten by the feds. That's why nobody will offer private unsubsidized flood insurance; there's no way it could compete. Federally subsidized flood insurance is a no-lose proposition as long as you follow the rules.

Lookee here as one insurer explains it.

Not saying that's the way it should be or that it's a good thing, but that's the way it is -- and the time to revisit that kind of arrangement is not when you are suddenly being depended upon to fulfill your end of it.

Given that the industry has some input...

Really, the industry has no input and doesn't want input and doesn't care. They aren't providing the service, they are just charging a small percentage to act as front men for dagummint. There is no negotiation; ACOE generates the numbers and hands them out to agencies like FEMA which use them to enforce various policies. Private industry doesn't have a dog in that hunt and has nothing to gain by getting involved.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

No lose flood insurance (none / 1) (#189)
by xC0000005 on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 02:56:49 PM EST

The people who lose are the rest of the public - the ones who don't have flood insurance.   The NFIP is unfortunately authorized to issue non actuarial rates to people who built before guidelines.   Combine the non actuarial rates with the credits for flood awareness and recognition plans and you've got a financial disaster waiting (no longer) to happen.   The only good news is that most of the homes damaged by Katrina can no longer fall under this claim once the initial payout is made.  The bad news?  The rebuilt structures still won't be insured at the right rates.  

Spent the day the other day with a case worker for people in Seattle affected by Katrina.  Yeah, there's enough of them at this corner of the US for us to hire a case worker to assist them.  The stories are horrible.

Most of them are learning the alphabet now in preparation for literacy training.  One actually got a 125,000 loan to rebuild a business.  THe business was repairing junk cars.  The money is gone.  The loan comes due tomorrow.  Anyone want odds on there being an empty apartment in Seattle tomorrow?  Sad.  And the person who approved that loan needs to be hung by their heels.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

True (none / 1) (#190)
by localroger on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 03:28:04 PM EST

The people who lose are the rest of the public - the ones who don't have flood insurance.

Yep. There are good reasons to consider it a bad system, but my point was that since the system is the way it is, and is imposed from above, locals really never had any choice but to work within it. Since the FPIP private flood insurance hasn't been an option for any American because no private company could compete with the federal subsidy; the only people who would pay honest premiums would be people at highest risk, and therefore the premiums would have to be laughably high.

As for the effluent of our diaspora, sorry your experiences have been so negative. I'm sure if you forcibly scattered every inhabitant of any US city of 1 million or more and then made those who desired return under their own steam, you'd see the same thing. Trust me though, we do actually have a handful of people who can read, and we've even had indoor plumbing since 1985 or so.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

That might have come across wrong. (none / 1) (#191)
by xC0000005 on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 03:51:09 PM EST

This particular worker chooses to work with the worst off.  I spent a lot of quality time in Houston (with the wife's family) pre-katrina and poor and uneducated go hand in hand regardless of location. Specifically I wasn't saying "wow everybody from NO is an idiot who can't read."  The ones who could not are the ones most stranded (if stranded can be qualified).  

As for the insurance thing - if the rate restructure is actually done then private companies could compete - there won't be subsidized rates anymore.  It just won't make any sense.  The risk pool needs to be deeper than the flood waters and no single insurance company unless given a monopoly can get the right depth.  

Most of the gulf coast state senators (including my home state of Tx) are fighting tooth and nail against correcting the rates.  The subsidized rates were actually intended to protect the poorest people, living there before flood danger was known or without means to move, not the rich bastard on the beach with a private golf course.  These same people are the ones who can't really afford to pay correct prices for the insurance.

Somewhere there's got to be a compromise that doesn't sacrifice the poor and yet weans people off of the subsidy nipple.  Even if it takes years to implement.

It's a mess.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

a cap could go some way towards that (none / 0) (#196)
by Delirium on Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 11:30:31 PM EST

If the purpose of the program really is to subsidize the poor who happen to be living in unfortunate areas, rather than (as I suspect) to give hand outs to the powerful real-estate/development lobby, then some simple caps on payouts would do that. Make the federal insurance only cover the first, say, $300k of any property. Heck you could even be generous and cover up to $500k or something, but there's no reason any program, ever, anywhere, should subsidize a $2m house.

[ Parent ]
It is generally capped at $250K (none / 0) (#197)
by localroger on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 08:07:34 PM EST

However, I think you can pay more for gap insurance which is also partially subsidized under a different set of rules. Many people around me have been stung by the $250K limit, but if I'd been flooded I wouldn't be one of them so I never did much looking into how to cover beyond it. Obviously people whose beach houses are rebuilt every 5 years are managing somehow.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Crow for Dinner (none / 0) (#192)
by virg on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 09:34:17 AM EST

It's the other, other white meat, I guess. And here I was wondering what I was going to be having tonight.

I'm going to yield to you on this, since your link not only explains it well, but provided jumpoff to a few other spots where it's backed up. I owe you an apology for that, but to be honest I'll defend my ignorance by saying I really tried to find this stuff and didn't have a lot of luck.

Virg
"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
It's not widely known, and hard to believe (none / 1) (#193)
by localroger on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 01:04:41 PM EST

I understand why you misunderstood it so; when it is explained it is damn near impossible to believe. If you do more googling about the NFIP you'll find it's quite controversial, particularly not so much w/r/t NOLA as expensive beach houses that get wiped out and rebuilt every 5 years. Anyway, in my experience that crow goes quite well smoked with a little barbeque sauce :-)

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Florida (2.50 / 2) (#153)
by SFJoe on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 10:07:52 PM EST

Florida never had to deal with an incompetent President. After Andrew, relief supplies had been staged beforehand and were brought in right away. The incompetence of Bush's government, like it or not, is what has hindered the recovery effort.


[ Parent ]

NO should secede like you said way back when (3.00 / 5) (#69)
by HackerCracker on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:44:05 PM EST

I remember X recently saying something stupid like, "Nobody could have known that a disaster like that was going to hit New Orleans!" to which I thought, now wait a minute, didn't I see a Nova Science Now episode where they predicted exactly that scenario about five months prior to Katrina?

A quick trip to Google confirmed my suspicion, and I forthwith disabused her of her mistaken notion. Seriously, they knew it was coming and did NOTHING. And after it hit, didn't Hugo Chavez offer aid and was refused by the Fed? The same Fed that promised everything and did NOTHING?

Yes (3.00 / 6) (#71)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:49:04 PM EST

I said Louisiana should secede from the Union, and then New Orleans should secede from Louisiana. Then NOLA could spend the money it now ships to the state and federal government to float bonds and finance a project for the Dutch to fix the problem.

Of course that won't happen until after LA grows a set and tells the feds that our constitution sets the "privileges of adulthood," presumably including alcohol consumption, at age 18 and that if they want to withhold highway funding to blackmail us then we should withhold all income tax revenue tit for tat. Unfortunately, the last time a state tried that it ended up with guys dressed in blue and gray shooting at one another.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

True (none / 0) (#76)
by HackerCracker on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:11:34 PM EST

But the underlying reasons are a little bit different now than they were then. But then again, before the Great Depression, the US was on the gold standard and because of this the citizenry had a bit more of a say in what the government did and did not do. Whether or not this policy would have made any difference in NOLA today is left as an exercise for the reader.

[ Parent ]
hmmm (none / 0) (#109)
by khallow on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 02:17:44 AM EST

I guess the current problems indicate that would be a bad idea. New Orleans in particular just isn't competent enough to go it alone.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

oh but HackerCracker.. (none / 1) (#74)
by Unski on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:08:33 PM EST

..it's Mother Nature not something within the power of concerned citizens!

(sticks fingers in ears)

la la la..

[ Parent ]

Nova predicts a lot of things (3.00 / 3) (#80)
by Delirium on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:48:26 PM EST

We haven't really done too much about most of them. Among others:
  • Big earthquake in San Francisco
  • Big earthquake in Los Angeles
  • Big earthquake in Missouri (which is completely unprepared for such things)
  • Hurricane travelling up the east coast and hitting New York City
  • Giant volcano erupting beneath Wyoming
  • asteroid impact


[ Parent ]
Au Contraire. (3.00 / 4) (#104)
by vectro on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 10:53:42 PM EST

In San Francisco, building standards are frightiningly strict with respect to earthquake preparedness. I used to think that huge steel reinforced concrete pylons was just the way you build things, until I left the area. There are a lot of older buildings that will be trashed when the Next Big One hits, but most essential infrastructure built in the last 15 years has been built to last. The parts that weren't are being fixed.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#112)
by HackerCracker on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 03:40:49 AM EST

Go ahead and put New Orleans back on that list, and figure out which of those disasters is the most preventable/easily mitigated.

Did I hear someone say 'Army Corp of Engineers'? I didn't either.

Again, the key to notice here is that the notion (that seems to be fairly common, at least around where I live) that 'nobody could have forseen a disaster like Katrina' is completely and utterly false. The follow up video on that page that I linked above is quite instructive on that point.

[ Parent ]
did I hear somebody say Louisiana government? (none / 1) (#165)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:35:09 PM EST

Both California and individual cities in California have been taking significant steps to mitigate the consequences of an earthquake. What did New Orleans and Louisiana do that's comparable? Sit on their asses and complain that the feds weren't doing anything?

[ Parent ]
one of the big lessons for me (none / 1) (#131)
by aphrael on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:04:37 PM EST

of katrina is that when the earthquake levels the bay area, we can't depend on the feds for squat.


[ Parent ]
Good lesson (none / 1) (#145)
by godix on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 06:16:29 PM EST

as long as you follow it up with 'So I've prepared by...' I only wish more people realizes the federal government isn't the be all end all solution to problems.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
yeah well (none / 1) (#158)
by army of phred on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 12:12:08 PM EST

they have the answers to "how to piss away a good percentage of my income".

"Republicans are evil." lildebbie
"I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about." motormachinemercenary
"my wife is getting a blowjob" ghostoft1ber
[ Parent ]
it certainly doesn't seem like a federal issue (none / 0) (#164)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:33:57 PM EST

IMO, the federal government is for things that are inherently non-local issues, like interstate commerce and voting at the UN and whatnot.

[ Parent ]
yes and no. (none / 0) (#175)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 12:52:11 AM EST

i don't expect a small state like delaware (for example) to be able to deal with it if a disaster large enough to overwhelm its economy hits it.

california, yeah, it should probably be expected to take care of itself. but small states without a lot of resources ought to be able to expect the other states to pitch in when they get crushed by something outside their control.


[ Parent ]

in extroardinary cases, sure (none / 0) (#176)
by Delirium on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 01:28:11 AM EST

I see that as less a federal government responsibility and more akin to charity/donation sort of aid, though; sort of how we give money to other countries following major disasters too.

[ Parent ]
making it a federal responsibility (none / 0) (#179)
by aphrael on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 12:59:34 PM EST

makes it more efficient and more reliable than if it were just charity/aid.

[ Parent ]
I'm unconvinced of that (none / 0) (#180)
by Delirium on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 01:07:08 PM EST

I think making it a federal responsibility has directly contributed to much of the inefficiency, and in particular increased the number of people in harm's way by reducing the financial disincentive to building things in places where things shouldn't be built. The National Flood Insurance Program is the biggest culprit, promoting essentially risk-free construction of beach homes.

[ Parent ]
This is not strictly accurate. (none / 1) (#185)
by xC0000005 on Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 08:04:52 PM EST

Read how their rates are strctured. The crime in NFIP is the non actuarial rates. The harm to NOLA from correctly setting them is jack compared to the fact that most of those structures are now past the "major damage" clause and now must be insured at (40 year old) actuarial rates. I have a half written rant on how the NFIP went wrong. "Broken by design", I call it. Not sure i have the will to see it through. Sad really. The flood awareness and rate discounts for active flood plain management are good. What really, really blows is that before the first minor reform you could still get a loan in a flood zone without insurance.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
Whaaaaaaaaahhh! (1.88 / 9) (#73)
by kurobots are funny on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:04:33 PM EST

Why won't the American taxpayers rebuild my ghetto???? Whaaaaaaaaahh!

Dude, we already allocated a ridiculous amount of money to assist New Orleans. It's not our fault you live in one of the most useless and corrupt corners of this fair nation.

Maybe you should start by recalling Mayor Ray Chocolate Nagin and that woman governor of yours instead of whining that even more money should be wasted on you ungrateful people. Thanks.

I see you escaped the nullocaust (1.83 / 6) (#75)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:10:03 PM EST

Please keep trying, they'll get you eventually.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Hey, mexican teeth, I "escaped" because (1.66 / 3) (#77)
by kurobots are funny on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:16:28 PM EST

I'm not one of Jason's dupes. Dumbass.

[ Parent ]
Well, that may be (none / 0) (#82)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:55:00 PM EST

...but if you're quacking and waddling, you have to assume you're gonna be confused with a duck.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
chasing out niws (2.80 / 5) (#83)
by Unski on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:00:24 PM EST

is eroding my mental image of you as a mature person. Surely the best thing is not to react, or to scream to the admins behind the scenes? A public display of annoyance is only a pat on the back to him, surely?

Sincerely,
A Nobody.

[ Parent ]

I said nothing to anybody (none / 0) (#84)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:05:06 PM EST

I knew before I put this up NIWS was lurking out there with his "like 50" dupes, and I decided to see if the system would work. Except for a few snarky comments to NIWS himself, which I always make since it's a little hobby, I did nothing; not even abuse reports. I am pleasantly surprised to see that the system still has the capability of righting itself.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
it's these public comments I refer to. On this.. (none / 0) (#85)
by Unski on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:06:18 PM EST

..page.

[ Parent ]
Again, I called nothing out. (3.00 / 4) (#87)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:14:29 PM EST

Look it over. I left one comment ("Hi, Jason!") but I called on nobody else to do anything. No appeals to countervote, no frantically searching for moderators. That was all orchestrated by others and I did not request it. I figured if people wanted me to write they would do such things, and to my pleasant surprise they did.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
I posted one diary showing all the nullo dupe (none / 1) (#89)
by jangledjitters on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:24:02 PM EST

accounts created today and all but a few got anonymized. The dupe voting was too obvious and stupid.

If a story gets voted down fine...but it should have some fairness attached to it. the nullos voting this down was just too blatent for me to ignore it.

hi
[ Parent ]

I thought you were obfuscating my point. (none / 1) (#90)
by Unski on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:26:44 PM EST

but OK I see only that one comment, looking things over. Strange how I thought there were more. I blame the wine. Sorry.

(although even then, any acknowledgement feeds the beast IMO)

[ Parent ]

Wine is good. No problemo $ (3.00 / 2) (#92)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:35:58 PM EST



I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
so far as i know (2.00 / 2) (#130)
by aphrael on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:03:40 PM EST

(and i should know, as i was the admin who responded), localroger did not scream at the admins at all.

the screaming was done by people who read the article and thought it was good and were irritated at the massive dupe voting trying to torpedo it.


[ Parent ]

ugh? (none / 0) (#133)
by Unski on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:07:13 PM EST

screaming at admins was a suggested alternative to rising to the niws bait. As distinct from an accusation. Please re-read.

[ Parent ]
ps (none / 0) (#135)
by Unski on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:18:27 PM EST

you're really quite precious. Of course I know who you are here.

[ Parent ]
there are a number of his dupes (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by jangledjitters on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:27:47 PM EST

that "escaped".

hi
[ Parent ]
Reasons to rebuild. (3.00 / 4) (#78)
by xC0000005 on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:22:30 PM EST

Ignore Nagin. He's an idiot and I cannot grasp their fascination with him, but NO needs to be rebuilt for pretty much the reasons localroger states - the infrastructure is essential and it would be expensive (but quite possible) to replace or redirect it. We need to rebuild it, but with sense. Most major cities began life built around infrastructure and the kind of city that gives rise to is ugly.

I disagree with the article in regards to the rebuilding requirements. The core had a spine and refused to just say "move it up x feet" for months, insisting on taking time to figure out which protections should be based on flood walls, pumps, etc and which were cases where the individual structures should have been raised. For months they had a spine and held out even when the administration was pressuring them to release guidelines. People didn't want to hear that it might take years to figure out what was really safe. Looks like they finally released guidelines. I wonder how many of those recommendations were "safe based on improvement X or Y" to the general city infrastructure. I wonder what flood insurance on those new homes will run.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

That's the thing, though (1.66 / 3) (#88)
by kurobots are funny on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:18:40 PM EST

What needs to be rebuilt has been rebuilt or is getting rebuilt. Mexicancaps is upset that the we (Americans who don't live in N.O.) have let a year pass without rebuilding every hovel in the city and recalling all the criminals from Houston.

[ Parent ]
Nonsense. (none / 1) (#91)
by xC0000005 on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:26:46 PM EST

He is not calling for every hovel to be rebuilt. In fact it would be cheaper for us to build consistent quality housing than most "low income" housing projects. There is no reason that NO can't be rebuilt better than it was (cue the 6 million dollar man theme song). As I stated, most cities grew up around infrastructure and industry and that's rarely optimal or beautiful. We have the means. We lack the will. I think that's what he's protesting.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
He doesn't actully call for anything (none / 0) (#94)
by kurobots are funny on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:36:40 PM EST

in this article. He tries to lay a guilt-trip on America without coming out and saying directly what he thinks.

You're arguing as a reasonable person. The author of this article is not a reasonable person.

[ Parent ]

I'm calling for heroes instead of bean-counters (3.00 / 3) (#97)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:04:17 PM EST

Made it pretty clear I thought. If you don't know what I was talking about, have some more beans.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
trans: "I'm calling for more federal dollars (none / 0) (#98)
by kurobots are funny on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:16:44 PM EST

... and less federal oversight."

Yeah. I know.

[ Parent ]

I see you don't remember Kennedy. (none / 0) (#99)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:41:57 PM EST

Neither do I, but we do have videotapes. You should watch them.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
I'm curious about your heroes. (2.83 / 6) (#105)
by xC0000005 on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 12:03:58 AM EST

I appreciate the article and the ground level view, but what would you have of the people setting the flood level standards? To read your statement it sounds like you think they are covering their asses. I would suggest they are covering yours, where "yours" represents those who need flood insurance. Proper building standards are essential for pricing flood insurance correctly. Proper building standards can only be determined with an understanding of what level of protections exist in a given area already. I think appreciate the frustration (as well as someone who is not there can. I have family in the gulf coast area whose home was, well, erased). I'm just not sure it's directed properly. A "hero" could have proclaimed that all houses must be built to withstand the full force of an atomic bomb. A "hero" could have bowed to the pressure from the administration to say something, anything. I think we have quiet heros working on this. I hope we do. Have you seen differently?

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
They can start bytelling the truth (none / 1) (#114)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 08:11:55 AM EST

...even when it's hard. Telling people who had 10 feet of water to elevate 3 feet doesn't do shit for anybody, and if you're gonna whitewash the situation like that you could go ahead and do it in November instead of waiting until June. I think nobody wanted to face the political fallout of telling people the hard truth, and they sat on their hands until they managed to mumble something passable.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Eternal optimist that I am (2.50 / 2) (#128)
by xC0000005 on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 12:28:28 PM EST

I would like to hope that the improvements cited are "safe based on additional improvements X and Y". I really hope so, because if they aren't they are just taking money from the rest of America all over again the next time a hurricane comes. Insurance needs to be priced correctly and if those three feet aren't going to prevent total replacement then the insurance needs to be costed on a five to ten year plan for total replacement. If the recommendations are "safe based on other improvements" then those improvements had better happen.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
The explanation... (3.00 / 4) (#129)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 12:50:03 PM EST

...is that the new levels are safe based on the levee system actually working next time. Not many people down here are real confident about that, though.

In the months after the hurricane it was widely assumed that all new properties would be elevated to something resembling the Katrina flood line. This was already the case in some of the older areas of the city, from the earliest days of the suburban push, where houses were regularly elevated 6 to 8 feet with an expendable basement/storage area underneath. These houses didn't flood because they were elevated above the likely total levee failure level back when total levee failure was considered a realistic risk.

There is absolutely no reason such a criterion couldn't be made standard, especially when so many properties will need to be elevated or rebuilt from scratch anyway. Nobody is very impressed with the new guidelines, and people are even less impressed that it took eight months (during which even people who had the means and desire to rebuild had to sit on their hands and wait) to produce them.

The sad thing is that people who want to build to a flood-proof level anyway may be prevented by maximum height zoning laws which were more suitable for pre-Katrina architecture. With the flood guidelines not requiring such heights, there's no reason to change the zoning and a certain sentiment against ruining the look of the neighborhood.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Yuo r teh rustina ghod $ (none / 0) (#96)
by localroger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:01:42 PM EST



I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
Katrina Victims Came To Canada Too (none / 0) (#103)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 10:21:04 PM EST

localroger wrote:

The victims of Katrina were scattered in a diaspora that covered the entire continental United States.

Katrina victims were invited to Canada too. Let me try to find a link... here we go:

Acadia University is in Nova Scotia; my piano teacher's daughter is an architecture student there. From the second link above:

While complete details are yet to be finalized, Dr. Gail Dinter-Gottlieb, President and Vice-Chancellor of Acadia University, has offered five full tuition scholarships with a residence room along with 100 spaces at regular tuition rates to qualified students who would normally be attending university in the affected area but have been forced to change their plans and may wish to attend Acadia.

That's a pretty big deal to offer full tuition to foreign students; a few years back the provinces were advised by the Canadian Federal Government that they could save a lot of money by eliminating educational subsidies for foreign students, with the result that foreigners pay a colossal amount of tuition in Nova Scotia, which has the highest tuition of all the Canadian provinces.

I take the bit about a hundred spaces at regular tuition to mean that a hundred Katrina victims could pay the same tuition as Nova Scotia residents do. That's pretty significant, as I don't think Acadia is a very big school.

When I decided to go out to Silicon Valley to look for work last fall, I at first asked my buddy Dave Johnson to let me crash on his couch, but he said he would not have room, as he had offered his house to Habitat for Humanity to house Katrina victims. I stayed with another friend instead.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


me too (none / 0) (#106)
by lilnobody on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:43:33 AM EST

Im on vacation in canada to avoid the anniversary.  too many family members being too self destructive.  I do my self destruction in private, a continent away :)

[ Parent ]
Lots of Kurons live in Canada. Maybe you can meet (none / 0) (#111)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 02:30:20 AM EST

... some. Just post a diary asking for a meetup. I live in Truro, Nova Scotia myself.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

The folks (2.50 / 4) (#107)
by lilnobody on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:50:45 AM EST

The folks down there are a very different lot than they once were.  There's a lot of depressed folk and mental health issues.  The whole vibe has changed in Orleans Parish, and no one has the same bounce in their step they once did.  

People don't say hi on the stoop while you walk to the grocery like they did, or ask how ya doin anymore.  Maybe they don't know the rules because they are imported construction workers; the americans are a lot less friendly than the Hondurans.

Even with my family spared, everywhere I grew up is gone.  I thought I'd gotten away but when I moved back in June I learned that it was gone.  The only things saved were the things that didn't make it matter.

I'll always come back for Mardi Gras, because it's my hometown and I love it.  But somehow it's not home anymore.

And in case you like localrogers facts, there are currently 11 psychiatric beds for inpatient care in the city proper.  Guess how long it took them to fill.  The police are just arresting crazy people because they have nothing else to do with them.

200,000 have returned but I say most of us are just tumbleweeds, having been accidently blown back until we're blown out for good.

ben

Chris Rose (3.00 / 2) (#108)
by lilnobody on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 01:54:31 AM EST

Chris rose, a New Orleans Newspaper columnist, had this to say in today's column:

My friend Jenni noticed that folks around here start conversations differently now. "Instead of asking 'Where did you go to school?' people ask, 'What medications are you taking?' "

well said.

[ Parent ]

There are more beds than that in Truro (none / 0) (#110)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 02:29:12 AM EST

Truro, Nova Scotia has only thirty-five thousand residents. The hospital serves the surrounding area too, for a total of about fifty thousand total potential patients.

I'm pretty sure the "Three South" inpatient unit at the hospital here has more than eleven beds. And those it has are often not enough, sometimes patients have to be taken by ambulance to the large psychiatric hospital in St. John's when it runs out of space.

Just so everyone knows how fucked up it is that New Orleans can't hospitalize its mentally ill when their symptoms flare up. They should at least set up some kind of supervised residential program with psychiatric social workers on staff. Even cots in a gymnasium would beat seeing your psychiatrist in jail after the cops brought you in for hallucinating.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Health care in general sucks (none / 1) (#115)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 08:17:13 AM EST

Over the area as a whole, the population is back to 80% but only half the hospitals are open. And the rates of suicide and post traumatic stress disorder are ridiculous, and as lilnobody points out there aren't many resources for mental health care at all.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
"We Were Americans" (none / 0) (#117)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 08:30:35 AM EST

I heartily recommend DarkSyde's Katrina article over at DailyKos. He says some of the things I tried to say here much more eloquently, and there are pictures.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
lies (none / 1) (#121)
by zenofchai on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 10:20:01 AM EST

scoop doesn't allow pictures, we've known that for years.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]
LOL neither does Kos at the moment (none / 1) (#123)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 11:06:36 AM EST

...unless apparently you are one of the site bigwigs.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Kartrina is my k5 anniversary... (none / 1) (#122)
by victorianLoser on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 10:34:42 AM EST

(How appropriate.)

"The whole world is a stage and we're all bit-players in a terrible improvised play." TheGaffer

Excellent article ... (none / 1) (#124)
by soundacious on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 11:09:09 AM EST

Thakes for the view from the ground. I grew up in Tangipahoa Parish and currently live in Gulfport. The only comment I would make is that G'Port has sort of split itself in half along the railroad tracks. There is certainly rebuilding going on along the coast, but there is a functioning city on the North Side of the line. It's possible to spend considerable time  in this city without being reminded of the carnage. Just don't go too far south. Or onto too many side streets. Or ...

Yes, bloviate all over yourself (2.85 / 7) (#126)
by geekmug on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 11:42:31 AM EST

First of all, this run-on sentence: "Growing up in New Orleans I always knew the hurricane was a possibility, but it never occurred to me, being as I was constantly told a citizen of the wealthiest country with the best standard of living and highest technology and the most noble ideals in all of human history, that when the hurricane came my country would sit back and let one of its great cities fall into ruin."

Go read about how your "most noble" city's with the "highest technology" had been for the last 100 years, and especially the last 50 years, destroying itself. And worst yet, engineers knew for 4 years that there was going to be problems if a hurricane like Katrina hit. I feel sorry for the people who did not have the means to save themselves, but the city, I do not feel took care of itself enough for me to feel bad about the result. The city had been sinking itself, eroding the protective wetlands, and balking on fixing either problem because it was too expensive.

Now that your city is in ruin, you want everyone else to pay for the repairs -- which still won't fix the original problems. I'm sorry, it just sounds like the City of New Orleans has bad credit and should be denied the gift.

I don't deny that the resources coming from Louisiana are essential. But my expectation is for essential industry to survive with or without the sunken-bowl that is New Orleans. New Orleans' was great, but that isn't a reason in-and-of-itself to rebuild it. Besides, you can't just "rebuild it," cities are organic; they live, they die, and one's that don't take care of themselves die sooner rather than later.

Asininely yours..

Reading comprehension 101 (none / 0) (#127)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 12:03:14 PM EST

This part of your comment is well said:

Asininely yours..

...as it accurately describes the rest. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to have figured out that the adjectives "wealthiest" and "with the best standard of living and highest technology and the most noble ideals in all of human history" are modifying the word country, and doing so in a properly constructed if very long sentence.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Dear MoveOn member, (3.00 / 3) (#139)
by zenofchai on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 03:33:12 PM EST

This week marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the greatest natural disasters to ever strike our shores. The images of Katrina are still seared in our minds one year later: mothers holding their babies above water, seniors slumped in wheelchairs, and bodies floating down American streets. We vowed then, and still vow today, that we'll never forget.

One of greatest tragedies of Katrina is that our government failed us. The people who are supposed to be there for us when the chips are down failed and forgot the hundreds of thousands of people who needed them the most--and left them to fend for themselves.

Out of all the sadness and despair, we were reminded of one immutable fact: America is great because Americans are good at heart. That's what Hurricane Housing was all about.

It Takes a Nation is the story of Hurricane Housing, and I was honored to write the forward. This collection shows everyday heroes at work and reminds us that the strength of our nation is not our government, but our fellow Americans. It Takes a Nation is a story of hope.

One year later and we're still hearing about survivors pleading with the government for trailers and food stamps. Today, many have already forgotten the tragedy--and how Americans stepped up in the face of massive government failure to take care of each other. The news cycle moved on, but those affected didn't have that luxury.

Hurricane Housing was about more than just donating a roof, the MoveOn community in cities across the country came together to provide jobs, clothing, and healthcare for complete strangers. Out of the disaster, lasting friendships, new levels of understanding, and new families were formed.

From the beginning, the idea that has been at the center of the American experience is that amid a melting pot of races and backgrounds and beliefs, we still feel a responsibility toward each other. That out of many, we are one.

It's what brought together white and black, rich and poor to march together and fight together for civil rights. It's what's caused soldier after soldier to risk their lives to save those people they never met. And it's what sent Americans from all over the country deep into the waters of New Orleans, willing to do whatever it takes to pull their neighbors to safety. And that's what It Takes A Nation is all about.

Thanks for all you do,

-Senator Barack Obama

Somehow it seems to me that everyone is still looking at NOLA (and the rest of the forgotten coast) as opportunities for both financial and political gain.

We can say the "government failed us" only because we have spent over 150 years relying on the government to save us. Which means, really, that we failed us and nothing else.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph

Agreed, but with a caveat (2.80 / 5) (#140)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 03:54:14 PM EST

I'd prefer a much lighter government that might leave more to private enterprise, BUT the fact is the government AS IT STANDS takes over 30% of my income -- and everyone else's -- right off the top. It doesn't ask very directly if I have particular plans for that money, and the powers I have to influence that such as the vote are marginal at best.

I'd be FINE with all this libertarian "stand up on your own" rhetoric if we could have all that money back and use it to float bonds to fund things that are important to us, like hurricane protection designed by competent people to realistic standards, BUT WE CAN'T. Just like we can't honor our own fucking state Constitution which says 18 years olds have all the rights and privileges of adulthood -- if we want OUR OWN TAX MONEY sent back to us to build our own roads we must bow to Washington and beg for it.

WE WERE PROMISED that that money would be used for the general welfare when necessary, AND WE WERE LIED TO. I am frankly not all that worried about Louisiana being protected from a military invasion so as long as that money is being taken I fucking well expect the government that takes it to make good on the implicit promise that is used to justify the taking.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

hence my earlier response: (none / 1) (#141)
by zenofchai on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 03:56:24 PM EST

http://www.kuro5hin.org/comments/2006/8/27/115358/590/125#125

I agree; either they give us our money back or at least provide the things we're supposedly paying for.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]

''...and I was honored to misspell the foreword.'' (none / 1) (#170)
by glor on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 11:07:35 PM EST


--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

On NOLA (3.00 / 3) (#147)
by QuantumFoam on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 07:26:57 PM EST

allergic to seafood so I probably don't comprehend half of how good it is), nice people, and an excellent aquarium. I saw the most memorable concert of my life there. It in particular and Louisiana in general are the only places where my poorly-chosen second language can come in handy (Spanish would have been a much more sensible choice, French has helped me exactly twice, and I had to travel to Paris just to justify having learned it).

I understand localroger's argument that NOLA is a valuable port and that a good deal of goods travel through it. However, it is, for the most part, under sea level. In an area that is prone to massive, violent storms. It's only a matter of time before another, more violent hurricane comes along and completely knocks the anthill over again.

It seems that the sentiment in the country was mostly the usual reaction to a hurricane, which is sort of a tough-shit-hillbilly, we might give the Red Cross $5. That is, until it was turned into a racial thing by various forces that sought to try to blame a fucking natural disaster on Bush. After that, both major political factions seemed to be in a contest to piss as much money over the area to prove that they aren't racists or to assuage white man's guilt. localroger correctly argues that the federal government takes money from Louisiana and imposes its restrictions on it. However, I'd wager that Louisiana received more federal money than it contributed even in the pre-Katrina years. If you want a group of people that can legitimately bitch about that, ask a Californian that wants his medical pot why a state with an enormous SDP can decriminalize medicinal pot and still have the Feds come in and arrest terminally ill cancer patients.

So, here's the deal: New Orleans is already destroyed. It will be destroyed again. Maybe not next year. Maybe not in the next five years. But relatively soon, soon enough to make all this money we've spent a waste. Ships can go to different ports, the main reason we ship thing by boat still is that there's a lower cost per mile than if it had been shipped overland. After they hit the port and offload onto the rail system, it's all the same. Most of New Orlean's "culture" has been exiled to other cities, most notably Houston and Atlanta. The entire state is an ugly humid swamp and people are better off far away from it. There is no reason to rebuild it, and as localroger's article (and countless other articles in the mainstream media) indicate, it still hasn't been rebuilt. So let's cut our losses and abandon it for a while. The Mississippi, allowed to flood naturally for the first time in a long time, will replenish the area with silt and raise the ground level to something that will be sensible to construct human dwellings upon in a few decades.

And, localroger, let me say that you're one of the few people on K5 that I respect, so don't take this as an attack or anything. Some cities grow organically and can be forgiven for existing on fault lines, in hurricane-prone regions, or under volcanoes. New Orleans, pre-Katrina, fell into that category. But I perceive the reconstruction to be entirely artificial and doomed to failure.

- Barack Obama: Because it will work this time. Honest!

You are most likely right (2.66 / 3) (#148)
by localroger on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 08:00:46 PM EST

The thing that saddens me is that it didn't have to be this way. But, given the nature of our society, that's the way it has turned out.

OTOH there is no excuse for the unconscionably late arrival of rescue, the hindrance of self-responders who came when dagummint was still trying to get the paperwork signed, or the unconscionable delays, obfuscations, and general dicking around because nobody wants to grow a set and tell the property owners yes, you're screwed, maybe you should start over elsewhere. All in all even if you apply a thick layer of Libertarian bullshit and let it dry, there's a lot of good reasons to be pissed off about how it went down.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

The blunt utilitarian outlook. (3.00 / 5) (#154)
by Apuleius on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 12:19:34 AM EST

The Port of New Orleans and Louisiana needs a staff of about 5000. To keep the workers fed, clothed, entertained, and so on, could be done by a city of 100,000 people. New Orleans will always be there, since the port is important, and has been important ever since settlers arrived in Western Pennsylvania. But everything else about the city, while charming, and worthy of being preserved, is not essential to American national security. And it has to be weighed against the city's long established levels of utter disfunction and crime. And then, the balance weighed against the cost of building a Dutch style flood protection system. The Dutch built an amazing piece of engineering, but their project is helped by a barrier island that protects Holland against seriously bad weather. It's called Britain. The same project, in Louisiana, is not as likely to succeed in its objectives. Things to think about.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Much of the increase in hurricane damage (none / 1) (#155)
by wiredog on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 07:34:40 AM EST

is caused by more people living on the coast. Many more people in the US live on or near the coast than they did 30 years ago. I suspect that if, say, Camille hit today it would cause more damage. Simply because there's more there to damage.

But that is, I think, about to change. A friend who's a realtor in a resort city on the east coast says that the market there is running into some serious trouble. Seems that the insurance companies won't write policies that cover any sort of storm damage (including wind) unless you pay lots of money. Roughly 10% of the insured value/year. Economic pressure may fix the problem.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

The katrina disaster is the result (1.50 / 4) (#156)
by V on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:01:39 AM EST

of moral failing.

V.
---
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Could a port be built upstream? (none / 0) (#159)
by kuroXhin on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 12:37:49 PM EST

Or would the cost of keeping the lanes wide and deep enough for large ships be prohibitive?

Just thinking you might want to put some of this infrastructure in a less vulnerable place.

The Economist - The Playboy of the new world order!

oops - read the threads below (none / 0) (#160)
by kuroXhin on Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 12:49:25 PM EST

sorry.

The Economist - The Playboy of the new world order!
[ Parent ]

The Dutch Levee Proposal (none / 1) (#194)
by Vicco on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 10:29:44 PM EST

My favorite part about this article is the paragraph about the fact that the Americans absolutely refused to adopt the Dutch levee system. I heard that Louisiana politics is in shambles and the Katrina mess is partly to blame on Louisiana politics.

Also, New Orleans seems to have the same suburbanization issue that many cities (i.e. Detroit) in the Rust Belt are experiencing; the wealthy tax bases are moving to the suburbs in those areas.

how is the situation for us server-hardware guys? (none / 0) (#195)
by Morally Inflexible on Sat Sep 16, 2006 at 04:03:36 PM EST

Me, I'm a unix dork, mostly I work on low to mid-range servers (x86 hardware, Fibre channel *BSD and Linux, most lately with Xen) with lots of data-center type experience- might it be worth my time (vs. continuing to work in the bay area) to try to score clean-up jobs for me and my monkeys?

Not sure (none / 1) (#198)
by localroger on Thu Sep 21, 2006 at 08:10:36 PM EST

There is a labor shortage in all areas, but it's caused by a general lack of housing. Those businesses that can pay high wages to attract enough workers from the smaller pool. Unfortunately the famously low cost of living is going up because of this, so if your income isn't as flexible it kind of sucks. IT has never been a big field around here but obviously there are companies that need those kind of services, and if you can find one that is willing to pony up you could cut a sweet deal. I'd see what I could find before actually moving, though. Maybe line up some leads first and take an exploratory trip to size up the opportunities?

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
Hurricane Katrina: One Year Later | 197 comments (180 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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