Category Archives: New Orleans geography

Can We Save New Orleans?

Can we save New Orleans? Can we afford to keep saving New Orleans? It seems clear that it is “iffy” to build a major city on the shifting ground of a river delta. We love New Orleans. Even if we haven’t visited we love the idea and the vibe of this jazzy city. There will probably always be some kind of city in the Mississippi delta because of shipping concerns. Clearly some of New Orleans is on high ground and can survive any number of windy/rainy disasters. But the parishes that occupy low-lying land may be too expensive to maintain, especially if our weather keeps getting more severe.

 The Army Corps of Engineers is getting a lot of praise for how the new levees and pumps are functioning. But Isaac is only a category 1 storm. It is a fairly stationary storm however, and is lingering over New Orleans and dropping beaucoup inches of rain. What if this was a category 4 or a category 5 hurricane? If we had followed the Dutch designs and built a truly strong system we would not be facing this continuing uncertainty, which we could face again in any hurricane season. The Dutch design with its hydraulic doors was extremely expensive and I assume that is why we didn’t decide to go that way. In the long run the Dutch design may be the only thing that could preserve the city of New Orleans in its current form.

Meanwhile, we are sorry for the suffering and fear that the people of New Orleans are experiencing on the 7th anniversary of the terribly destructive hurricane, Katrina. I hope when the rain, wind, and tides subside we will find the city and its people weathered the storm well. We already know that at least one parish was inundated, that people feared for their lives and had to be rescued from their attics and roofs, but this was not a parish that benefited from the Army Corps of Engineers upgrades.