Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Serious Plan and a Serious Precedent, but One Serious Problem

Once again, the Washington Post comes through with a detailed, well-informed article on A Serious Plan for Future Hurricane and Flood Damage Prevention.


"Other elements in the plan call for mechanically pumping sediment to rebuild marshes and barrier islands. Hundreds of miles of new or reconstructed levees would add flood protection."

""I haven't heard any opposition yet; people in Louisiana know what's at stake," said state Sen. Reggie P. Dupre Jr., who introduced the bill that called for the planning effort."

And of course, the downsides:

"By removing all or most of the flow from the Mississippi River's main channel, the more than 6,000 ships that travel through New Orleans to the ocean each year -- carrying chemicals, coal and a significant portion of the nation's grain exports -- may have to find an alternate route nearby, possibly through a system of locks and canals. That would increase travel time and add to costs... The diversions would also dilute salt water in estuaries, altering the region's shrimp and oyster harvest, one of the largest in the nation."

There are ups and downs to the plan overall, but the most important thing is that people are thinking big. There isn't an easy solution to stop another Katrina- it is a problem that will take a great deal of time and money to be solved, but it can be solved.

Want proof? Look at what Holland has done. It took 47 years, like a serious project of that scale ought to.

What will it take? Not much. All we really need is a smart plan, willpower, and a competent, well-intentioned, honest government. That last requirement might trip us up most, especially when we read that
the Army Corps of Engineers solicited bids for drainage pumps for New Orleans, it copied the specifications — typos and all — from the catalog of the manufacturer that ultimately won the $32 million contract, a review of documents by The Associated Press found.... In a letter dated April 13, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called on the Corps to look into how the politically connected company got the post-Hurricane Katrina contract. MWI employed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush's brother, to market its pumps during the 1980s, and top MWI officials have been major contributors to the Republican Party.

But we can fix the lack of a competent, well-intentioned, honest government with a smart plan and willpower. It might not be so much about whether it is a Democrat or a Republican- at the federal level, Republicans messed Katrina up. But Louisiana is run by Democrats, who fouled it equally. Its more about electing problem-solvers instead of politicians.


No comments: