You read it here first... New Orleans is in the toilet. Centuries of lackadaisical planning has led to a situation where the city will cost more than it is possibly worth to reconstruct. The Louisiana governor has said that the first priority is to evacuate the survivors and to keep the refugees...yes, refugees, from returning...
Can you say "Unprecedented"? The only similar incidents were the Great San Francisco Earthquake, and the Galveston Storm. In neither case was the city evacuated.
And then, people were not as dependent on the infrastructure as they are today. Then government utilities were limited to water supply, which is robust. Now, we live in a fragile, inter-woven web of water, sewer, electric, communication, all necessary to survival.
All of a sudden, perhaps one percent of the population of the whole country is unemployed and perhaps a third of that number are refugees. Refugees. The refugees, get used to the word, are being moved in school buses from the Super Dome to the Houston Astro Dome. Dare I point out, that stadiums don't even have beds in them?
We used to use military bases, but the military has been pared to the bone by the Bush Administration. All the Quartermaster services the military used to provide, are now being handled by contractors, like Halliburton. In New Orleans, the LA National Guard would have been early on the scene, but they are mostly off in Iraq.
People on the Coast have the traditional problems. Water, food, clothing, shelter. They should have water soon, as the pipes are underground. Roads will be cleared, and supplies trucked in. In a natural setting, floods drain away, power lines can be set up, roads cleared..
New Orleans, being an artificial construct, like Venice or Holland, is much more fragile, and will take much more work. There is only one road in, I-10 West, and little chance of the causeways across Lake Pontratrain being repaired or replaced for years.
The water is out, and the electricity was run underground, and will have to be completely rebuilt after the flood is pumped out. The breach in the levee is 300 feet long, will be impossible to plug before the water levels equalize.
There is a century old pumping system that has a capacity of handling one inch of rain an hour. Most of it runs on electricity. Some is diesel powered, so some of it might work. So six feet of water will take 72 hours to pump out, if everything works right... Three days after the levees are patched. If all the pumps work, the drains aren't blocked and it don't rain. And then all the basements and electrical conduits, transformer substations, fiber cables, telephone trunks, you name it. Two weeks minimum... Just to get the water out...
Can you leave a big city shut down for two weeks? Can banks and businesses afford to be shut down for months? What happens to the tax base? Who carried that kind of insurance? A city engineer guessed six to eight weeks to turn the power back on…What happens to the data in all the hard drives and servers?
Once evacuated, will the people want to go back? Have we just created a new class of refugees similar to the Cuban Mariolitos of the '80's? Will the middle class people be able to access their bank balances and other assets any time soon?
And it gets worse. Who insures the insurers? With the housing market inflated beyond sanity and gas and oil and propane at record prices, who will pay? A goodly portion of America's exports go down the Mississippi. It's almost harvest time. Oil prices are on a knife edge and New Orleans is lousy with oil refineries and chemical plants.
And The Media is innocent of all this…Soon they will discover that the entire NFL Schedule will have to be re-calibrated, and they will cope with that with hysteria.
There will always be a city called New Orleans, but how much it will resemble "The Big Easy" is another matter. The National Home of the Sloppy Drunk may have to find a new place for Mardi Gras, because there is some serious work to be