Will recalls Hurricane Katrina, 5 years ago
Aug. 29, 2010
COLUMBUS: The economic news got worse this week for the President. A poll reported that 83% of Americans are sending a message to Washington; they rated the economy as Bad or Fairly Bad. The other 17% are actually in Washington.
For everywhere except Washington, unemployment is over 10 percent. Washington is the only place where everybody is employed. (Notice I said "is employed", not "is working".)
It’s been 5 years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and all the newspapers and TV folks are looking back at what they said and wrote at the time. I happened to be in New Orleans following a speaking engagement on the paddle wheeler, American Queen. We were fortunate to be among the last ones to fly out of the New Orleans airport, just 36 hours before the storm hit.
Here are some of my "Weekly Comments" written in the month after Katrina devastated New Orleans. (I was not kind to the Mayor and Governor.)
A gigantic hurricane was forecast to take dead aim on New Orleans 5 days (before it hit). That extremely accurate prediction was made by an agency of the United States government, so don't go laying all the blame on the Feds...
The Times-Picayune reports that as a result of a big hurricane New Orleans is flooded, poor people are stranded and hungry and clinging to rooftops, and chaos rules. Of course that was in the paper in 2002, but nobody at City Hall bothered to read it, even if they could read. Blame the editor for not putting in more pictures...
I have heard (President Bush) 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 idea 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. Now, 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. Anybody that insists on living below sea level, let 'em rebuild in Death Valley.
Here is the key to my Plan for New Orleans. You take all the area below sea level, and divide it 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.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on the Mississippi River flood of 1927)
"There will be bills introduced in (Congress) to regulate the rainfalls. Some will suggest moving the river over into some other Senator's state. Some will suggest letting it empty into the Grand Canyon where the levees on each side are high enough now without rebuilding them. Someone will introduce a bill to have the river run up hill so it won't go so fast. But the people down there better not put too much dependence in Congress. They can grow web feet quicker than Congress will relieve 'em. If I was them, I would make my next house a house boat. But Congress might fool us, and let us all hope and pray they will, for if anybody ever needed help it's those people down there.” WA #231, May 15, 1927