Good background on the geography and hydrology of New Orleans from Ari Kelman in Slate.
Well. As grim reality sets in, I predict that the rebuilding of New Orleans will turn into one of the great political spectacles of the 21st century.
Where are we headed? The first steps will include a multi-billion dollar toxic waste clean-up and a multi-billion dollar flood management program (which is itself a environmental disaster for Louisiana's shrinking coastline and marshes.)
To what purpose? As we have all learned recently, big slices of New Orlean's housing stock are badly deteriorated, and the inhabitants are poor. Having spent billions to prepare the site, shall we spend billions more on affordable low-cost housing? Is that really a sensible use of the Federal income-assistance dollar? Certainly we could build low cost housing more economically elsewhere.
Or should the rebuilding of New Orleans focus on the industrial port and a restored historic/entertainment district? That makes it sound like Las Vegas with ships - some jazz, some restaurants and bars, some history, a convention center, and a port on the side. But if New Orleans is going to be a playground for Exxon and tourists, how much of the bill should the rest of us foot?
Obviously, we must deal with the short term crisis affecting the people in the region. In the longer term, people like Dennis Hastert will need to think twice before saying the unsayable. And I suspect that anyone opposed to putting up affordable housing in a toxic-waste flood plain will be denounced as racist (go figure).
However, my guess is that a significant fraction of "We the People" will be reluctant to pour billions into New Orleans in order to provide housing for a lot of poor people there, rather than elsewhere for much less. Which is why I see a brutal political season ahead of us. (And although there can be no doubt that the looting and violence is not representative of the vast majority of the people of New Orleans, I also suspect that the televised images are not exactly winning America's hearts and minds).
Well, George and Bill are re-united, so the politics of this get odd for the Dems - can Hillary bash the relief effort of which her hubby was a part? (Of course she can!)
I will be speaking with my New Orleans correspondent (safely relocated with a family member in northern Lousiana) soon, so I should may glean something useful about which relief efforts to endorse.
Glenn's list here.
Perhaps the most tin-eared statement to come out of a politician’s mouth in a long time, but absolutely right. Look at New Orleans and ask yourself if it makes sense if it is there.
But it is there, and we will rebuild. But we should discuss how we rebuild.
More on the challenge of rebuilding New Orleans from Donald Sensing.
And the 17th Street failed levee described in the Times is interesting - the Times pretends that underfunding of the New Orleans levees began with Bush, and glides past the news that the levee that failed was recently upgraded.
Let me throw in my own guess - eventually, the contractor who upgraded the 17th St. levee will be investigated, and the contract will be found to have been influnced by poltical intrigue. In Louisiana!