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Does New Orleans Really “Need Us?”

On Aug. 30, Errol Louis wrote an article for the New York Daily News titled “Four years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans still needs us.”  In the opening lines of his commentary, Mr. Louis claims “the single most important thing to know is that the city remains vulnerable to another big hurricane strike.  Its flood protection system needs to be completely re-engineered, a project that will cost billions.”  Louis also points to problems caused by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a former, man-made commercial shipping channel, and argues “the billions it would cost to fill in the channel permanently would be money well spent.”

Frankly, I agree.  The billions it would cost to repair the levee system, and fill in the channel would be money well spent by New Orleans.  If the city wants to invest in these projects, more power to them.  However, I do not think we should continue to bail out the American Atlantis with federal dollars.  New Orleans is below sea level.  It should be obvious the city will be plagued by flooding, and it will inevitably happen again.  While I sympathize with those who are unwilling to move away from their history, I think its time that people start accepting the risks and consequences of their decisions.

We see a similar trend with the California wildfires.  Every year, we hear the tragic tales of those who have lost their homes and lives to the relentless power of nature.  While a part of me has compassion for their suffering, another asks how they failed to see this coming.  While environmentalist groups may feign shock and attempt to blame global warming, the scientific data tells another story suggesting the current inferno is arriving right on schedule.  The forests around Los Angeles will likely continue their fiery life-cycle for many years to come.  Residents must accept this.

This is not meant to discourage rescue operations.  I believe we have a responsibility to assist our fellow citizens during a disaster evacuation.  However, I do not feel we have any responsibility or obligation to foot the bill to reconstruct their folly.  Some places just weren’t meant to be called home, and people need to understand the risks of their chosen residence before they choose to build it.  While every region has its own environmental troubles, some are far worse than others or at least far more likely.  If you can’t afford the potential damage to your home, or perhaps just don’t think you should have to pay to upgrade the city levees, perhaps its time to start searching for a new abode.  And for those who choose to stay, stop asking the rest of us to pay the penalty for your mistakes.

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