Monday, January 23, 2006

Ideas, Ideas, and more Ideas

I began my first post with a rant about how we are not considering the radical changes that are needed. To recap, a) New Orleans shouldn't have been built in that location, but it was, b) if we're going to rebuild, then the "same old" is not an option, and c) where's the money for storm surge protection for areas outside New Orleans. Well, here's my suggestions in no particular order:

First, tell everyone in New Orleans low-lying areas to stop remodeling and rebuilding. That time will come later. Let’s start by fixing some of the worst problems. If the city had been at or near sea level, the problems would have been far less severe. This is how to do it: Hire as many dredges a possible, and start dredging the lake, pumping water INTO New Orleans and Chalmette, non-stop for as long as it takes to fill in the low spots. The existing levees will serve well to keep the water in the city, allowing sediment to fall out, and creating an above-sea level barrier for the dredge spoil.

This technology is already used to rebuild barrier islands. For those areas near the river, simply divert sediment rich river water into the areas needing rebuilding. This is the best opportunity the city has ever had or will ever have again in the near future to achieve this. Many people (unfortunately) have little or no value remaining in their properties. After the holes are filled up, we can start rebuilding infrastructure and homes, at or above sea level.

By the way, this is an opportunity to point out a similar albeit smaller example. When NOLA decided to “fix” the I-10 underpass near Metairie Rd., I pointed out to many people that the pumps were a really poor solution. It will only be a matter of time before the pumps fail and the area floods again. The original idea to route the Interstate under the railroad tracks was inept at best, and we have been paying for this idiotic idea since the underpass was built. Where else in the country do you have a 12 foot ruler to measure water depth on an INTERSTATE HIGHWAY. So the City/and Feds spent millions of dollars to install pumps. And yet this past month, less than a year after the pumps came on line, the underpass filled up again, because the power was out to the pumps. DUHHH!! Let’s stop making stupid decisions and apply dollars towards REAL solutions. An overpass is the ONLY solution to this problem.

Second, sorry guys, but Plaquemines Parish is just not a place for people to live. Maybe have some apartment complexes there, but no more single family residential. And as for commercial, you better build your stuff high in the air, and strong enough to survive punishing onslaught from 30 foot waves on TOP of a 30 ft surge. And why not take advantage of technology being developed in the areas like the Florida keys to provide break-away features in residential and commercial buildings. The idea is that during a catostophic event, the storm surge is allowed to go through a building, taking the walls and contents with it, but leaving the steel reinforced concrete columns. Then reconstruction simply rebuilds the breakaway portions, to the intact structural components. And instead of flat surfaces on the upper decks, curved facades are built to help deflect and route the wind/water around the structure instead of creating flat, wind-catching facades.

Third, start diverting as much Mississippi River water as possible to all existing natural and manmade waterways to all of Southeastern LA. This is the only way to stop the loss of wetlands and begin restoring.

Fourth, we better start charging the rest of the country for the oil, natural gas, and refined fuels produced here.



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