View Full Version : Katrina

08-30-2005, 07:44 PM
I'm mostly a lurker here- learn a bunch, don't know much. But there's a bigger problem than our hobby. If you haven't watched Katrina reports, do it! These people are in trouble- if you have the ability, please donate. Money, manpower, equipment- Salvation Army, Red Cross.
It could be us!

08-30-2005, 08:48 PM
Thats what they said about the sunami, lets see how much they send thiese folks, we sent them how many billions of taxpayer money. Sorry. I say keep your money you will need it next year when your insurance goes up and you are paying $3,00 per US gallon of gas, compared to a year ago we will pay 1/3 more for gas where does that money come from will the employers give us more, or send a bus to pick employees up from there neighborhood.I think not.


The tame Wolf !

08-30-2005, 08:54 PM
My Aunts and Uncles house must be under water, they were off Soldiers boulevard? Hmm, The aquarium must be ruined, French Quarter probably gone, D-Day museum? Probably gone, they say another levee is going to break?
Perhaps New Orleans is our modern day Atlantis.

IOwolf, you must say things for shock value. That got me in trouble in High School. Theres a big difference between foreign aid and spending money for our own country.

08-30-2005, 08:57 PM
I am saying,Those Billions we sent over there could be used here now ,Huh?
It all comes from taxpayers.

The tame Wolf !

[This message has been edited by IOWOLF (edited 08-30-2005).]

08-30-2005, 09:23 PM
We are thinking of all you people down there with Katrina. We hope and pray that you get out of the storm with your lives and health intact.
Starting again after a tragedy is always hard.Where we can help we will,but the big effort will remain with the victims themselves.
It is up to all of us to encourage and help all we can.
Where there is life there is hope.
Hang in there.

08-30-2005, 09:23 PM
I don't want to sound hard hearted but I gotta say I don't feel moved to contribute to people who are the proximate cause of their trouble. Everyone in New Orleans has known for a long time that this would happen sooner or later. Did THEY do anything about it? Build in the flood zone if you want to, but don't cry to me like a victim.

08-30-2005, 09:24 PM
What you said is that it would be a waste of money to spend any on New Orleans. Yeh, Tsunami, to be honest, I could care less, and always wondered where all the money was going because everyone was dead.

08-30-2005, 09:28 PM
It looks to me that they might have to abandon New Orleans.

08-30-2005, 09:42 PM
Well ,for starters I am not stupid enough to build a damn house/ city in a flood plain.

second I pay my damn taxes so the do gooders with no brains (congress) can waste it.

third I am sick and tired of people waiting for a hand out from the government and from relief organizations.

It is called self reliance . This intails getting the proper insuance ,being smart enough not to live in a flood plain , and knowing when to call it quits and move on .

Maybe I am cold hearted, but **** happens to people and you cannot help everyone .

08-30-2005, 10:03 PM
My first reaction was: what's God trying to tell us by wiping out New Orleans and a bunch of oil rigs?

I have to agree about the building in the levee zone - just don't do it unless you're rich and you wont miss your summer house.

I can almost understand the tsunami reaction, but ignoring the financial details, I find it a little rude to not give a hoot about our people.

Of course everything is funded by the tax payers' money. If you've earned enough money to donate to something like the tsunami, chances are you're a tax payer.
Tax dollars was not the only source of donations.

What about renters - do most of then buy insurance for this type of thing?

08-30-2005, 10:17 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by IOWOLF:
Thats what they said about the sunami, lets see how much they send thiese folks, we sent them how many billions of taxpayer money. Sorry. I say keep your money you will need it next year when your insurance goes up and you are paying $3,00 per US gallon of gas, compared to a year ago we will pay 1/3 more for gas where does that money come from will the employers give us more, or send a bus to pick employees up from there neighborhood.I think not.



gasoline will be the least of your worries. the gulf ports affected by Katrina are where a large portion of ALL imported goods come in, including food.

and i too am waiting to see how much international aid is sent to the folks affected.

andy b.

08-30-2005, 10:32 PM
Maybe New Orleans should do what Seattle did way back when. Raise the streets up a story or two. If you go to Seattle, you can take the "underground Tour" and go down to the original ground level which was abandoned long ago and get a good idea of what life was like back then.

Greg C.

08-30-2005, 10:37 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> My first reaction was: what's God trying to tell us by wiping out New Orleans and a bunch of oil rigs? </font>

Ryobiguy... Why is it always God that gets the blame. Maybe the Devil did it.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> and i too am waiting to see how much international aid is sent to the folks affected.</font>

andy_b... Don't hold your breath or you'll be another victim of this storm.

[This message has been edited by Tinkerer (edited 08-30-2005).]

08-30-2005, 10:51 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by IOWOLF:
I say keep your money you will need it next year when your insurance goes up and you are paying $3,00 per US gallon of gas,
I think the $3.00/gal. is more like next week.

cam m
08-30-2005, 11:01 PM
My heart and prayers go out to Katrina's victims.

As far as gasoline prices, we have some of the lowest in Canada in Alberta at 0.96 $CDN/l. Current exchange gives 1.20 $CDN/USD so at 3.78 l/US gal, we're at 3.02 USD/gal BEFORE Katrina's effects are felt. European pricing has been upwards of 1$ USD/litre for ages. Cheap gas is a thing of the past.

08-31-2005, 01:56 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by BillH:
What you said is that it would be a waste of money to spend any on New Orleans. Yeh, Tsunami, to be honest, I could care less, and always wondered where all the money was going because everyone was dead.</font>

The Indonesian military government?? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif
What aid will come from the muslim countries to aid the infidels??, I think
not much http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif

08-31-2005, 02:00 AM

08-31-2005, 03:34 AM
I feel bad for the people left homeless, jobless etc by this, but at the same time I have a real problem with the victim mentality. They knew in New Orleans and all along the gulf coast and southern atlantic coast 300 plus years ago that things like this will happen, and built it up right to the waters edge anyway.
I don't have a problem with my taxes helping people, just help them to build a new city, about 300 miles inland, which is what they should have done way back then. FEMA should out and out tell the city officials of New Orleans, Biloxi, etc just that, and they should tell them, if you rebuild here knowing all this, next time you're on your own.

[This message has been edited by pete913 (edited 08-31-2005).]

08-31-2005, 03:41 AM
So if a twister takes out half of a town in Nebraska, we just say they shouldn't have built in a twister alley?
If Kalifornia slides off into the Pacific, they shouldn't have built on a fault line?
If the snow gets really bad, they should have moved to somewhere warmer?
I will continue to live in Jax, doing what I can to help others when they are in trouble. I don't have the vacation and extra funds like I did in the early 90's to go help in person, but I have done my share in the past.
Say a prayer for New Orleans, and don't forget the surrounding areas. When Hugo hit NC, everyone looked at Charleston, and I went north of their, seeing more people needing help and not getting it. Andrew was a two week deal, and wish I could have stayed longer. Work called me back.
David from jax

Have gun, will travel.

08-31-2005, 04:07 AM
Sandman, interesting that you mention heavy snow areas. Back in 1996 we had huge flooding on the Red river up here, flooding large areas of several cities, which recieved FEMA help for the first time ever. One stipulation for getting that help was that none of it could be used to rebuild homes etc, in a known flood area. So, how do you justify using tax payer dollars to rebuild the same thing in Florida or anywhere on the gulf coast for the umpteenth time using this aid when nobody else can? Better yet, how does FEMA justify it? I'm not saying don't rebuild it, just use your own nickle to pay for it when it gets knocked over for the 20th time, and quit playing the victim card, it's wearing mighty thin.

[This message has been edited by pete913 (edited 08-31-2005).]

John Stevenson
08-31-2005, 04:47 AM
Mr Wolf,
Were you on our side in the last war?

John S.

08-31-2005, 05:21 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by John Stevenson:
Mr Wolf,
Were you on our side in the last war?
John S.</font>

John, your remark caused me to reread Wolfs post. Now it is up to him to clarify his position, but what I got from it is the US govt gave millions to the Tsunami and Wolf anticipates that there will be a large shortfall in $$$ aid to his own people(??).
Similarly, we have had some large floods in recent times. Our govt took some time to assist the victims of these disasters both in practical terms and dollar terms and the dollars were SFA compared with what they gift to the likes of the Indonesians and others, I`m not only talking about the tsunami catastrophe.

08-31-2005, 06:44 AM
Yes John, I served my country,USN but not in the last war I am not that young.But with a comment like that I wish I was 200 years older and fought in that war.

My comment was serious and general, yours was personally insulting, and an attack on me. Don't try to justify it by saying I was attacking someone by my comments,I have not attacked you or anyone recently and am trying to keep my cool,but a comment like that can make me loose it quick!And you shouldn't even make such a comment,your taxes will not be going there.

Back on topic,others said it better than I evedintly could, If you want to throw money at the problem fine, I don't, enough of my tax dollars get wasted on other sillyer things,I will not send whats left of my hard earned cash anywhere when I need it for gas, food, heat,Insurance,electricity and anything else That will go up higher than my wages.

The tame Wolf !

[This message has been edited by IOWOLF (edited 08-31-2005).]

Weston Bye
08-31-2005, 07:30 AM
Preparedness, priorities, and not much sympathy.
Here in Michigan, disasters are usually comparatively mild. Power outages have been most common. I bit the bullet long ago and spent money on a generator. I found that friends and relatives would call when they lost power, expecting to borrow my generator. I would always loan it, realizing that each revolution of the engine that turned for them was one less available for me as the generator approached the end of it's service life. I also knew that they never used the generator efficiently, balancing loads or shutting it off when not needed. I always felt slightly taken advantage of, even though I knew that it was unintentional.
I finally began to suggest that they should plan to buy their own generator after the current crisis had passed. Power outages of various duration were not uncommon in this area. "Oh, but they are so expensive, I can't afford that." was the response.
Well, everyone (except me) has cable TV service. I pointed out that the cost of basic cable for three years equaled the cost of the particular generator I was loaning them. Some took the hint, most didn't. Apparently, a steady diet of The Simpsons and MTV are necessities. So also is that finished, carpeted basement that will flood when the power to the sump pump fails during a thunderstorm.

New Orleans is no different-just a larger scale. The sad thing is the number of people who blindly trust the authorities to keep the inevitable disaster from happening.

Do what you can to prevent disaster. Most people do nothing. Some people set themselves up to be victims.

By the way, $3.00 gas is now here in mid Michigan.


[This message has been edited by Wes1 (edited 08-31-2005).]

08-31-2005, 08:21 AM
Gas $2.95/gal. this morning in Maine.

08-31-2005, 09:07 AM
Gas, the cost is nothing compared to the "losing" everything you have work for all your life.

The rich people lost thier boats and beach houses. The poor people could not even afford to leave town.

If all you have is a dollar, that dollar is pretty valuable. If a rich man loses a dollar not much is lost, but when a poor man does his whole future is bleak.

I have prayed for all the people that got thier lives disrupted by the hurricane.

08-31-2005, 09:41 AM
I can't wait to see all the concerts and benefits that musicians or the Hollywood types are going to come up with to raise money for disaster relief. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif

... Oh wait, Mississippi, Alabama and Lousiana aren't in Africa, Indonesia or some other Sh**hole.

[This message has been edited by KENZ (edited 08-31-2005).]

08-31-2005, 09:56 AM
I remember back in the great flood of '93 (Des Moines, IA). I specifically remember the Government of Sri Lanka sent aid here in the form of rice or something to that effect. I thought this was a interesting thing as they are a 3rd world country heavily prone to flooding and probably didn't have a ton of extra stuff to send us. Also, remember news travels fast in this country, some of the other countries, regular people probably have no idea of what is going on.

08-31-2005, 10:50 AM
The hurricane was a Natural Disaster and was unavoidable and the storm surge has receded from the other Coastal areas hit. The situation in New Orleans is MAN MADE. Gravity is one law you can not break... water will always seeks the lower ground. I believe the levee system they had was bound to fail. Water is a relentless force and all the rains from the storm that's been dumped all the way up to the Ohio Valley will make it's way down to the Mississippi River to add to the rising water. What are they going to do pump the water back into the lake increasing the pressure on the weakened levees. I think the rules enacted about rebuilding in a flood plan ( walled crater ) should be upheld. maybe in a hundred years when natural silting builds up the area they can build on it.

08-31-2005, 11:06 AM
Tinkerer... Tell that to the people of Holland.
They are not making more land. Unless you consider pumping it dry.

Ha.. I got my finger in a dyke.. Nahh...


08-31-2005, 11:18 AM
The situation in New Orleans has been forecast for a long time. It has been the subject of documentaries and news speculation for years. No one should be at all suprised that it has come to pass. I can't believe what seems to be a complete lack of disaster planning for the eventuality both at the state and city level. It's inexcusable.

As I pointed out (in another thread) we are expecting what will likely turn out to be the the largest natural disaster in recorded North American history. The contiguous area of forest that is dead and dying from climate warming induced beetle kill is the size of Tennesee. When it burns it will be the largest fire ever seen.

The direct economic cost just so far is over 6 billion. The value of the dead and dying timber that will be lost is 18 to 20 billion. The likely economic cost in the next few years may exceed 50 billion and in the long term 100 billion. The cost in lives, homes, towns and permanent loss of jobs is unknown. The previous two years firestorms were just a taste when one town and part of another were wiped out.

We are doing what we can to try and protect ourselves but the size of the eventual disaster is too much. We can't change the climate, we can't salvage all the trees and we can't stop the lightning.

08-31-2005, 11:22 AM
ibew... Yep they build coffer dams and pump out the water to create or reclaim more land. But then they dredge and fill up the void not build on the bottom to the valley left behind ( seen a thing on engineering marvels about it http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif ). Also what they do in their Country does not cost me any money to up keep. Now remove the finger before you get a infection and it falls off. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif

Spin Doctor
08-31-2005, 01:27 PM
Like the saying goes. God may of created the Earth but the Dutch created Holland. But the Dutch know the risks of the areas that they live in and are willing to accept what they have to do. Too many people in the US have absolutely no idea of what is going on around them. I pointed this out elsewhere we need a real revision of building codes in the US. In areas with weather activities that generate high winds the construction of wood framed housing should be banned completely. In earthquake prone areas construction should be used that allows for the possibility of an earthquake up to a certain size. In areas with heavy snow falls the minimum allowable roof pitch should 1-1. Such things will make a lot of sense IMO but they will be resisted by both the public and the housing industry in the main because they are "different"

08-31-2005, 03:08 PM
My aunt and uncle are going to be visiting us for the next few months, I hope they are smart enough to not move back to New Orleans.

Michael Az
08-31-2005, 03:22 PM
Evan, that sounds like a true nightmare in the making. Have you made any plans about what to do? What do you think the insurance companys will do? Might they cancel everybody before the big fire comes and then what to do? I think one problem we humans have is such a short lifespan, it makes it hard to comprehend what all can happen to us as far as natural disasters. If you think about it, science is so new on the scene that we probably still do not know all the things that can go wrong. Someday the west coast will slide off into the Pacific, and they just discovered super volcano's, they think Yellowstone is a good prospect for the next one, {I doubt I am safe in Az from it} The next ice age is due, the next polar shift is due, ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, and if one of those doesn't get us I am sure there is an asteroid out there with our name on it.

08-31-2005, 03:39 PM
Good questions. The insurance on my neighbours house went from $600 last year to $1700 this year. My business insurance went from $600 two years ago to $1600 this year. My house insurance is quite low but I have an unusual insurance plan grandfathered from when I worked at Xerox. Even they are squirming around trying to find a way out of it. They tried to find a way this summer to cancel based on the age of my roof but my roof is not shake and is in very good condition.

As for protecting ourselves the most we can do is to minimize the fire hazards as much as possible in and around our properties. I also have firefighting gear but that won't be worth squat if a massive crown fire sweeps up the hill. It will be time to hitch up the fifth wheel and get the hell out of Dodge. To bad for the shop.

After that comes the real crunch. This could easily result in the elimination of perhaps 50% of all jobs in the entire central interior of the province. Wife and I will be out of business and out of luck if it comes to that.

08-31-2005, 03:44 PM
Plant kudzu! It'll cover over the entire province with a lush, green blanket in two or three months time.

Michael Az
08-31-2005, 05:31 PM
Something that might be worth checking out Evan are the fire blankets for buildings. As you know I live in the desert but very close to an 11,000 ft mountain range. Last year I made a run with my truck and trailer when there was a bad fire on the mountain. My neighbor had a cabin there and the BLM gave the cabin owners 3 hrs to go in and grab what they could. Luckly the fire missed them but the BLM was ready to cover them with fire blankets. Sounds like a good idea for the house and shop. At least it would stop the embers.

08-31-2005, 05:55 PM
I forget where I saw it in the last couple of years but I think it was the fires here. A guy with a really nice big log house in the mountains had to get out. Before he did he wrapped the entire freekin thing with heavy duty aluminum foil. The fire burned right past it and it survived.

Your Old Dog
08-31-2005, 06:02 PM
To some of the guys on this board who ain't been around since Katrina. To those who may have lost all to Katrina.

I got a 4 bedroom home in the middle of a cornfield up in New York State. We got 3 bedrooms upstairs that ain't spoken for. If you need a place to hole up till you can figure out something more permanent let me know. We got schools for kids here just like you did there. We can make it more comfortable than you are now sleeping on arena floorsf or tents. God Bless and I hope we can help someone out.

08-31-2005, 06:29 PM
I hear wyoming has oil jobs,$1000.00 per week and can't get anyone to come.

The tame Wolf !

08-31-2005, 08:50 PM
I don't see the wisdom of building below sea level myself, but we are all at Ma Nature's mercy in one way or t'uther. Be it flood,fire,wind, earthquake, you name it. Dinosaurs once ruled this marble, so don't think where you live is immune to natural disaster. Sent a little money to the Tsunami victims and will send a little for Katrina and I won't begrudge or miss it for a minute. You guys need to lighten up a bit. Old Dog, hats off to ya. Yur a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

08-31-2005, 09:13 PM
I really appreciate being lucky to have been born on the praries. We rarely have anything to worrry about weather-wise. It gets cold here in winter, but it`s a dry cold and not too much snow, and the summers can get hot, but nothing like what it does in the southern states. A tornado here is like a dust devil in comparison to tornado alley. Earthquakes? We hear about them, and forest fires are a distant thing even when they are in the province. Avalances and mud slide and hurricanes and volcanos are also non-existant for us. Yeah, it`s an ok place but live...but Damn! Is it boring!

08-31-2005, 09:56 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by ibewgypsie:
Gas, the cost is nothing compared to the "losing" everything you have work for all your life.</font>

You're right of course. Even so, the price of petroleum has a profound effect on many of our lives, particularly those of us who live in the north.

08-31-2005, 10:54 PM
We have a specially trained urban search and rescue team of about 26 people with dogs and equipment standing by in Vancouver ready to go. Quebec Hydro has teams standing by to help fix the power system. The Canadian Red Cross has over a hundred trained people ready to go. Someone only has to ask. No one has asked yet. They can't go without a request.

09-01-2005, 10:48 PM
A good place to send help.
David from jax


Rich Carlstedt
09-02-2005, 12:03 AM
I lived in Canada for awhile in my early years, and the community near me had a lot of Dutch folk, and their land was also dyked as it is in Holland. I saw several failures occur, and they immediately responded with a plan.
All the dykes were drivable on the top, and "prearranged" trucks would dump huge bolders, then crushed rock etc to close the hole.
the procedure was fast and well engineered

According to what I saw on TV,
New Orleans has steel barrier walls sunk in clay ( guess they are not familiar with Californias Dyke (Earthen dams)failures ?
I noticed that New Orleans has an "access" road running along side the dyke....this of course was flooded allong with the rest of the city
Access ??? Clay????
As in most things, you get what you pay for !

A week ago Thursday night, at 8:30, the National geographic channel had stories about this "Violent Earth" discussing Tidal Waves etc..the program was made in 2003 I believe...anyway, they focused on New Orleans and told of the major damages / life threats that would occur if a force 4 or 5 hurricane hit....? I turned to the weather channel at that moment, and they were predicting a possible hit on NO...spooky !

Lets spend money on Marty Gras's...not on life support !

09-02-2005, 03:23 AM
If you haven't seen it elsewhere, here's a satellite view of the flooded area of New Orleans.

Opening the larger version of the photo brought the smell of sewage. What a mess.


John Stevenson
09-02-2005, 07:17 AM
Just think about all those poor lathes and mills under water.

Spin Doctor
09-02-2005, 03:18 PM
Food for thought on just what NO means to the US Copied from Stratfor

By George Friedman

The American political system was founded in Philadelphia, but the American nation was built on the vast farmlands that stretch from the Alleghenies to the Rockies. That farmland produced the wealth that funded American industrialization: It permitted the formation of a class of small landholders who, amazingly, could produce more than they could consume. They could sell their excess crops in the east and in Europe and save that money, which eventually became the founding capital of American industry.

But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.

For that reason, the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815 was a key moment in American history. Even though the battle occurred after the War of 1812 was over, had the British taken New Orleans, we suspect they wouldn't have given it back. Without New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Purchase would have been valueless to the United States. Or, to state it more precisely, the British would control the region because, at the end of the day, the value of the Purchase was the land and the rivers - which all converged on the Mississippi and the ultimate port of New Orleans. The hero of the battle was Andrew Jackson, and when he became president, his obsession with Texas had much to do with keeping the Mexicans away from New Orleans.

During the Cold War, a macabre topic of discussion among bored graduate students who studied such things was this: If the Soviets could destroy one city with a large nuclear device, which would it be? The usual answers were Washington or New York. For me, the answer was simple: New Orleans. If the Mississippi River was shut to traffic, then the foundations of the economy would be shattered. The industrial minerals needed in the factories wouldn't come in, and the agricultural wealth wouldn't flow out. Alternative routes really weren't available. The Germans knew it too: A U-boat campaign occurred near the mouth of the Mississippi during World War II. Both the Germans and Stratfor have stood with Andy Jackson: New Orleans was the prize.

Last Sunday, nature took out New Orleans almost as surely as a nuclear strike. Hurricane Katrina's geopolitical effect was not, in many ways, distinguishable from a mushroom cloud. The key exit from North America was closed. The petrochemical industry, which has become an added value to the region since Jackson's days, was at risk. The navigability of the Mississippi south of New Orleans was a question mark. New Orleans as a city and as a port complex had ceased to exist, and it was not clear that it could recover.

The ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans, which run north and south of the city, are as important today as at any point during the history of the republic. On its own merit, the Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the United States by tonnage and the fifth-largest in the world. It exports more than 52 million tons a year, of which more than half are agricultural products -- corn, soybeans and so on. A larger proportion of U.S. agriculture flows out of the port. Almost as much cargo, nearly 57 million tons, comes in through the port -- including not only crude oil, but chemicals and fertilizers, coal, concrete and so on.

A simple way to think about the New Orleans port complex is that it is where the bulk commodities of agriculture go out to the world and the bulk commodities of industrialism come in. The commodity chain of the global food industry starts here, as does that of American industrialism. If these facilities are gone, more than the price of goods shifts: The very physical structure of the global economy would have to be reshaped. Consider the impact to the U.S. auto industry if steel doesn't come up the river, or the effect on global food supplies if U.S. corn and soybeans don't get to the markets.

The problem is that there are no good shipping alternatives. River transport is cheap, and most of the commodities we are discussing have low value-to-weight ratios. The U.S. transport system was built on the assumption that these commodities would travel to and from New Orleans by barge, where they would be loaded on ships or offloaded. Apart from port capacity elsewhere in the United States, there aren't enough trucks or rail cars to handle the long-distance hauling of these enormous quantities -- assuming for the moment that the economics could be managed, which they can't be.

The focus in the media has been on the oil industry in Louisiana and Mississippi. This is not a trivial question, but in a certain sense, it is dwarfed by the shipping issue. First, Louisiana is the source of about 15 percent of U.S.-produced petroleum, much of it from the Gulf. The local refineries are critical to American infrastructure. Were all of these facilities to be lost, the effect on the price of oil worldwide would be extraordinarily painful. If the river itself became unnavigable or if the ports are no longer functioning, however, the impact to the wider economy would be significantly more severe. In a sense, there is more flexibility in oil than in the physical transport of these other commodities.

There is clearly good news as information comes in. By all accounts, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which services supertankers in the Gulf, is intact. Port Fourchon, which is the center of extraction operations in the Gulf, has sustained damage but is recoverable. The status of the oil platforms is unclear and it is not known what the underwater systems look like, but on the surface, the damage - though not trivial -- is manageable.

The news on the river is also far better than would have been expected on Sunday. The river has not changed its course. No major levees containing the river have burst. The Mississippi apparently has not silted up to such an extent that massive dredging would be required to render it navigable. Even the port facilities, although apparently damaged in many places and destroyed in few, are still there. The river, as transport corridor, has not been lost.

What has been lost is the city of New Orleans and many of the residential suburban areas around it. The population has fled, leaving behind a relatively small number of people in desperate straits. Some are dead, others are dying, and the magnitude of the situation dwarfs the resources required to ameliorate their condition. But it is not the population that is trapped in New Orleans that is of geopolitical significance: It is the population that has left and has nowhere to return to.

The oil fields, pipelines and ports required a skilled workforce in order to operate. That workforce requires homes. They require stores to buy food and other supplies. Hospitals and doctors. Schools for their children. In other words, in order to operate the facilities critical to the United States, you need a workforce to do it -- and that workforce is gone. Unlike in other disasters, that workforce cannot return to the region because they have no place to live. New Orleans is gone, and the metropolitan area surrounding New Orleans is either gone or so badly damaged that it will not be inhabitable for a long time.

It is possible to jury-rig around this problem for a short time. But the fact is that those who have left the area have gone to live with relatives and friends. Those who had the ability to leave also had networks of relationships and resources to manage their exile. But those resources are not infinite -- and as it becomes apparent that these people will not be returning to New Orleans any time soon, they will be enrolling their children in new schools, finding new jobs, finding new accommodations. If they have any insurance money coming, they will collect it. If they have none, then -- whatever emotional connections they may have to their home -- their economic connection to it has been severed. In a very short time, these people will be making decisions that will start to reshape population and workforce patterns in the region.

A city is a complex and ongoing process - one that requires physical infrastructure to support the people who live in it and people to operate that physical infrastructure. We don't simply mean power plants or sewage treatment facilities, although they are critical. Someone has to be able to sell a bottle of milk or a new shirt. Someone has to be able to repair a car or do surgery. And the people who do those things, along with the infrastructure that supports them, are gone -- and they are not coming back anytime soon.

It is in this sense, then, that it seems almost as if a nuclear weapon went off in New Orleans. The people mostly have fled rather than died, but they are gone. Not all of the facilities are destroyed, but most are. It appears to us that New Orleans and its environs have passed the point of recoverability. The area can recover, to be sure, but only with the commitment of massive resources from outside -- and those resources would always be at risk to another Katrina.

The displacement of population is the crisis that New Orleans faces. It is also a national crisis, because the largest port in the United States cannot function without a city around it. The physical and business processes of a port cannot occur in a ghost town, and right now, that is what New Orleans is. It is not about the facilities, and it is not about the oil. It is about the loss of a city's population and the paralysis of the largest port in the United States.

Let's go back to the beginning. The United States historically has depended on the Mississippi and its tributaries for transport. Barges navigate the river. Ships go on the ocean. The barges must offload to the ships and vice versa. There must be a facility to empower this exchange. It is also the facility where goods are stored in transit. Without this port, the river can't be used. Protecting that port has been, from the time of the Louisiana Purchase, a fundamental national security issue for the United States.

Katrina has taken out the port -- not by destroying the facilities, but by rendering the area uninhabited and potentially uninhabitable. That means that even if the Mississippi remains navigable, the absence of a port near the mouth of the river makes the Mississippi enormously less useful than it was. For these reasons, the United States has lost not only its biggest port complex, but also the utility of its river transport system -- the foundation of the entire American transport system. There are some substitutes, but none with sufficient capacity to solve the problem.

It follows from this that the port will have to be revived and, one would assume, the city as well. The ports around New Orleans are located as far north as they can be and still be accessed by ocean-going vessels. The need for ships to be able to pass each other in the waterways, which narrow to the north, adds to the problem. Besides, the Highway 190 bridge in Baton Rouge blocks the river going north. New Orleans is where it is for a reason: The United States needs a city right there.

New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure. It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist. With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating. The harvest is coming, and that means that the port will have to be opened soon. As in Iraq, premiums will be paid to people prepared to endure the hardships of working in New Orleans. But in the end, the city will return because it has to.

Geopolitics is the stuff of permanent geographical realities and the way they interact with political life. Geopolitics created New Orleans. Geopolitics caused American presidents to obsess over its safety. And geopolitics will force the city's resurrection, even if it is in the worst imaginable place.

09-02-2005, 07:34 PM
Excellent write-up, Spin Doctor.

09-02-2005, 08:18 PM
As of ten minutes ago fifty nations had pledged support for USA to help the people in the Katrina affected area.
It will be many years before the area can be restored or reshaped to meet the next disaster.
It is always agonising as the initial aid supplies arrive and are so pitifully small alongside the immediate need. But given a bit of time everything will speed up and some semblance of order will appear.
Throughout our community the Rotary Clubs are out this morning with a money bucket filling drive. And from what I see the response has been heartening. The people here feel for those of you caught up in this storm and are showing it in a practical way.
We as a BB probably need to think about those members who have lost their homes and find a way to help them in particular. Time will tell us if they survived and what their needs are.
Keep us posted.