Saturday, July 15, 2006


Councilman John Young of Jefferson Parish and his cronies want to strand Orleanians during the next levee break or hurricane:
Council Chairman John Young said the sense of urgency is growing as the height
of hurricane season approaches and the capacity in the 17th Street Canal remains
"We agree that I-10 needs to be open as an evacuation route, and we're not asking to do anything unless and until the evacuation is complete. It is not going to become an issue until the middle of an event when I-10 is closed anyway," Young said. "It seems to me there is no perfect solution and we ought to err on saving homes from being flooded.
"If homes get flooded again, a lot of people are not coming back. A lot of people tell me they do not have another flood in them," Young said.

His seemingly caring words contain several sneaky assumptions:

1. "until the evacuation is complete": During the Katrina/levee break crisis, when exactly was that evacuation complete? Guess what? IT WAS NEVER COMPLETE. In America, in a major metropolitan area, I doubt that an evacuation will ever be complete. Thousands of people will always stay behind, and because we're not a police state, I don't think the government will force them out at gunpoint. This means that Councilman Young's plan will knowingly strand people in Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines parishes. I'm sure he'd say they could take the Crescent City Connecion or Huey Long to escape. Well, last time our fellow citizens tried that, they were met with gun-waving Gretna police.

2. "A lot of people tell me they do not have another flood in them." I can definitely understand that. However, is the solution to flood purposely a major evacuation route and the interstate highway system? I've got a solution for people who don't have another flood in them: RAISE YOUR HOUSE! Why is it that because fate decreed that the 17th street Canal would break on the Orleans side, only the Orleans people have to raise their houses? Meanwhile, on the Jefferson side, where many people didn't flood or only flooded because the pump operators ran away, I don't hear talk about raising houses. When are Metairie and Kenner going to face the fact that they are victims of horrible (Read: greedy) development planners (Read: nonplanners) from the 1950s and 1960s, who built California-style slab housing in a former wetlands? I'm not angry at Jeffersonians for that. However, fate, nature, and the ACOE's failure have FORCED Orleanians to confront reality (and many Orleanian houses were built raised to begin with). By sheer luck, Jefferson avoided fate, and their leadership is using that luck to argue that Orleanians' escape route should be cut off.



LatinTeacher said...

Not to start any trouble, but I firmly feel that the people of East Jefferson feel very much saved by the Grace of God. I know that my mom does. I think that this disagreement is typical of the politics of the region - New Orleans wants what New Orleans wants. Someone who is trying to think outside the box is excoriated for doing so. I am not saying it is right to allow East Jeff overflow into New Orleans, just that it is an _idea_ to help alleviate the pressure on an already suffering and failing pumping system that happens to serve both parishes. Is closing I-10 down dumb? Yes. Is locating a low-lying area to hold storm water during a time with minimal pump output stupid? No, I don't think it is. This is the kind of thing that your idea of a regional government would help to solve. Maybe what we need in the region is a Flood Prevention and Alleviation Board or some such thing.

I also would like to add that many in Jefferson, like my mom, did flood. Just because Orleans has to "confront reality" doesn't mean that others haven't learned from the mistake.

In any case, I think it is dumb to close I-10. How could relief vehicles get in? How could those who were not able to get out before the storm get out after?

New Orleans needs to be the leader in the area. As New Orleans goes, so goes the entire metro area. Helping the suburbs ultimately helps New Orleans. All solutions need to be looked at whether it helps New Orleans or the suburbs. I have a great postcard I picked up in NYC after 9-11. I think it sums it all up for New Orleans, too. It says, "We are all in this together."

Sorry for the long comment.

Mr. Clio said...

I appreciate the spirit (and length) of your comment, LT. I agree that we should be in this together, and that's why I'm so aggravated with Mr. Young. He has to know that there will be people left behind. And then it will take days to pump out I-10, which means help for those folks will be slow in coming.

LatinTeacher said...

Agreed. This particular plan does not make the best sense. New Orleans and East Jeff share the 17th St Canal. If East Jeff is not allowed to use their share of the pumping capacity and flooding is imminent, there has to be a back-up plan. We need to think of solutions to potential problems and back-up the back-up plan, check and double check it so that what happened during Katrina doesnt' happen again. I don't have a solution not do I think this is the solution for this particular problem, but I am glad that someone is thinking of something different. Let's keep the ball rolling.