# 382, October 12, 2005
COLUMBUS: This is Columbus Day. Most of you thought it was two days ago, and took Monday off. But if you think about it, on October 10, 1492, Captain Columbus was pretty much lost as sea, and if he had any suspicion he was near dry land, he figured it was around Bombay or Calcutta.
I’ve been promising a plan for New Orleans, and tonight, with some help from a former Louisianian, I’ll unveil the Rogers Plan. The Engineers got the last of the water pumped out, and the President flew into town and ate supper and slept in the French Quarter. Of course, years ago he used to visit the French Quarter, but that was before he met Laura, and eating and sleeping were not exactly at the top of his “to do” list on those visits.
Well, since President Bush did not announce any rebuilding plans for the city, except for a promise to borrow an extra $200 Billion and give it to ’em, it leaves the way open for me and my friend Gerald, who I kinda introduced to you in a previous article (Sept. 14). You remember it was his parents and uncles who were in the middle of the 1927 flood. Here’s some of what Gerald wrote to me:
“Farmers, tenant and otherwise, all showed up with their mules and scoops. They made pennies a day for hauling dirt up onto the levee they built at what is now the famous Atchafalaya Basin. That levee and others bordered the spillways that were built to prevent the Mississippi from doing that to them again. All they had was mules and scoops and sweat. Levees sink, you know, and some times the need to raise them arises if you want to keep an area safe. Lafayette and the area known as Acadianna are protected by that levee built by my uncles but that levee was raised several years ago.”
I’ll get back to that, and how it can work in New Orleans today, but first Gerald wants to give you a hint on a root cause of the problem: “The Texans came with their drilling rigs and dug straight-line canals all over the marshes which led to salt water intrusion and coastal erosion.
They have sucked gas and oil out from under New Orleans for 30 or 40 years: would that cause it to sink? The Outer Continental Shelf has 4000 oil installations drilled on it and the oil comes ashore through Louisiana but it is not taxable by Louisiana. Texas took care of that years ago.”
On with the Rogers (and Gerald) Plan for a higher, dryer New Orleans. Everybody knows by now that a big part of New Orleans is below sea level. Some of it, like the French Quarter and the Garden District is fairly high, and the rest of the city fluctuates in elevation, as any good surveyor can tell you, between low and lower.
Now here is the key to my Plan. You take all the area that’s below sea level, and divide it roughly in half. Let’s say for discussion purposes that whole 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 those farmers in 1927. 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 shape. (The mules, not the tourists.) Any shortage of mules can be filled by going up to Tennessee or Missouri and buy a few thousand at auction. For scoops, well, we’ll ask Mr. Ford to shut off production at one of 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/Missouri mule and a Ford scoop. Let’s see Bush and the Army Engineers top that one.
I’ll close with another thought from Gerald: “I hope this gives you a little insight about why some of us from Louisiana feel that a more liberal (generous) Washington, while not preventing the storm, could have at least avoided some of the grief from the flood.”
Next week I’ll get back to earthquakes, mudslides, floods, fires and bird flu and other everyday catastrophes. And I’ll tell you about the big All-American Quarter Horse Congress going on here in Columbus. Some folks call it a Cowtown, but this month Columbus is practically owned by Horses.
Historic quote from Will Rogers:
“Why there is dozens of great humanitarian things that could be done at a very little cost, if the tax was properly applied. It’s the waste in government that gets everybody’s goat.” WA # 622, Nov. 25, 1934
[Randall Reeder presents talks as Will Rogers. Whether you think of him as a “Will Rogers impersonator”, “Will Rogers impressionist”, or “Will Rogers speaker” does not matter. What you get is authentic Will Rogers, with a bonus of a little current day Will Rogers style commentary. For information on available dates, call him at 614-477-0439.]