#422, August 28, 2006
COLUMBUS: A year ago Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and every newscaster on television is camping out down there to remind us of how bad it was, and still is for a lot of folks.
Some of those news hounds were kinda hoping for another hurricane to test the levees, but Ernesto decided to blast Cuba, and then maybe take on Florida instead of Louisiana.
There’ll be a lot of spouting this week in newspapers and on radio and TV about how to rebuild New Orleans. Considering that less than half the population has moved back, maybe the “Rogers Plan” of 2005 is as good as any.
Here are pieces of two columns I wrote last year, Sept. 14 and October 12:
The President will go on television tomorrow night (Sept 15, 2005), probably announcing what he would do different for the next Hurricane. I don’t want to interfere with anything he might say, but I have heard we will give New Orleans at least $100 Billion for relief.
For that you ought to be able to buy New Orleans, at least the part below sea level. In fact if we’re going to spend it, that would be a great thing to spend it on because you would only have to spend it once. For a family living in a $50,000 house below sea level, it will cost at least $100,000 to rebuild it, and the next hurricane it’ll get flooded again and cost us $150,000. So let’s buy it once, and let it flood. We’ll at least have the pleasure of knowing somebody can go fishing on our investment.
We know these folks want to go right back where they lived, and who can blame them. But let’s make sure where they build is above water level, even if they have to move a mile or two uphill from the old homestead. Anybody that insists on living below sea level, let ’em rebuild in Death Valley.
Here’s the Rogers Plan for a higher, dryer New Orleans. You take all the area that’s below sea level, and divide it roughly in half. Let’s say for illustration purposes that entire flooded area is 2000 acres. The half that’s the lowest (deepest) will be dug out even deeper, maybe 10 to 20 feet deeper than it is now, and let it fill with water. And you use the fill dirt you took from that half to build up the other half, so where now you have 2000 acres that’s likely to flood every now and again, after we move all that dirt, you’ll have a beautiful1000 acre lake, and 1000 acres of dry land, ready to build on. Of course, we’ll use some of that fill material to raise and strengthen the levees.
The secret to this whole Rogers Plan, and how we can do it for a fraction of $200 Billion, is to hire all those unemployed men and women that want to return to New Orleans, give ’em a mule and a scoop, and put ’em to work, just like the farmers that built the levees after the 1927 flood. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans you know they have a lot of mules, and they’re all pulling carriages filled with tourists. That’s kind of a waste of valuable horsepower, but at least it has kept them in good physical condition. (The mules, not the tourists.)
Any shortage of mules can be filled by going up to Tennessee and buy a few thousand at auction. For scoops, well, we’ll ask Mr. Ford to shut off production at his SUV factories for a week (nobody is buying ’em anyway), and build scoops. It’ll keep the auto workers occupied, and make ’em feel like they are contributing to a good cause.
There you have the ingredients of the Rogers Plan: a New Orleans worker, a Louisiana/Tennessee mule and a Ford scoop. Let’s see Bush and the Army Engineers top that.
Historic quote from Will Rogers:
“I don’t really believe that 80 or 90 per cent of the people realize just what flood disaster means, and what type of people it is that lost most by this particular horror. An Earthquake, a Fire, a Tornado, or anything like that is over in a few minutes. You know what you lost and you know what you got left. But look at this particular flood we have been reading of it for over 6 weeks. If your house burns out in the country you can run over to some one else’s and stay, but with this when yours go, your neighbor’s go too.” WA#230, May 8, 1927
To hear an interview with “Will Rogers”, click on this site:
http://www.thesop.org/article.php?id=1955 Judyth Piazza is the host. There are about 30 seconds of other stuff before the interview begins… This site has interviews with other interesting folks, including some real “characters”, such as Presidents Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.