There’s a fine line between determination in the face of adversity, and stubborn bloody-mindedness.
After September 11th, when terrorists knocked down the two tallest buildings in the USA, the prevailing view seemed to be “Let’s build another massive building! That’ll show those darn terrorists!” I have a feeling that a similar idea is forming over in America relating to the flooded city of New Orleans – “Let’s build it right back up again! That’ll show that darn storm!”
The site of New Orleans has been suffering from serious subsidence for decades, and it’s only going to get worse. OK, so the old version had to stay there for historical reasons. But now most of it is gone – any building flooded for more than a couple of weeks is going to have to be condemned – and America has a chance to get it right. You have two options: spend billions of dollars on flood defences like the Dutch (who don’t really have a choice about it), or do the sensible thing, treat the old, flooded city as the buffer zone you are otherwise going to have to artificially create, and build New2 Orleans further inland. Think about if – if you were picking a site to build a city, would land that is below sea level and subsiding rapidly, sandwiched between a lake, a river and the sea, in an area historically prone to flooding and hurricanes, be on your shortlist?
It would be great if, after mature reflection, it was decided to do the sensible thing. But I don’t hold out much hope. Political expediency will prevail, the current site will be cleared and reused at eye-watering expense, and the next generation will get flooded out of their homes again in forty years time, when the current crop of politicians are safely retired.