Katrina, Little George, and Global Warming

At this time of year, whenever I look out into the mid-Atlantic or the Gulf, large storms are everywhere. It is difficult not to think of Katrina when I see the big blotches of orange, yellow, and white out over the warm water. It is impossible to think of Katrina without thinking of all the flooding and a devastated New Orleans. And it is impossible to think of the flooding without thinking of the poor, mainly black, people trapped in a deteriorating Superdome.

I don’t really know how to judge the state of rebuilding in New Orleans. Some sources say that when the money is all paid, every citizen in New Orleans will have received over a half million dollars. Some sources show me pictures of poor people (mainly black) standing outside their toxic FEMA trailers, never having gotten the first dollar that it will take them to rebuild their lives. I expect that the truth is somewhere between the two extremes. I further expect that it is closer to the latter situation than the former.

I know that our government has failed New Orleans, and the entire affected area, miserably. They delayed too long to start sending aid, partially because the Louisiana National Guard had been sent to Iraq to get blown up while protecting the oil that little George and hunter Dick want to keep for themselves. When they finally responded, it was too little too late. It seems that they have never caught up from a bad start.

It is a statement of our national priorities that the poorest areas were the most flood-prone, that it was the poorest people that were left to die in the storm because they couldn’t afford to go on their own and no one would take them, that it is still the black and the poor who are getting no help, and that little George can still go for a photo op and tell lies about how wonderful things are going. It is disgusting.

Worse, think a little about the future. The global warming problems that little George has been in denial about are, of course, turning out to be true. They have been true all along. Worse, the more they look at the speed at which the ice is melting, the more dire the predictions come, and nearer to today they advance. So, with the sea level rising and the number and ferocity of hurricanes increasing, they are rebuilding New Orleans, to whatever degree they are doing anything, several feet under the current levels of the Gulf. That is not overly bright.

If they are ever really going to spend money to rebuild New Orleans, they should be doing it several miles inland and many feet higher than the current location. New Orleans was never that big, geographically. The technology of moving buildings has gotten much better. Take most of the town out of harm’s way. If downtown is too expensive to abandon and too big to move, build a much smaller, bulletproof dike system that will do a good job in really bad conditions, then build a bridge to it.

If they spend billions to rebuild New Orleans where it is, it will be under water again in 40 years even if no big hurricane returns. Melting ice will see to that. Take the ex-inhabitants to higher, dryer ground without the incredible toxic levels of the old flooded areas. Don’t even bother to clean up that cesspool of chemicals. Just bulldoze it and seal it under a frenzy of epoxy, or something. Everything we spend rebuilding in that location is wasted; we’ll have to do it all over in 2035 or 2040 when the rising seawaters overtop the dikes.

Quit messing with these poor people. Quit being racist and classist. Move them out of harms way. Give them the money they were told they would get. Let them start their lives over before they die of old age waiting for their government to make good on their promises.

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