One hundred and fifteen years ago much of Seattle burned to the ground, and in the rebuilding of the city it was decided to build parts of it at a higher level, thus avoiding the plague of constant tidal flooding. Basements were left to rot, and new front entrances were constructed up above. Storefronts and sidewalks were left as much as 35 feet below ground.
To this day you can see what it once was by taking the “Underground Tour”, which I did a few years ago. You can see where back then they had to install their toilets up on the top floor, for obvious reasons during the incoming tide.
New Orleans, which was arguably the most beautiful city in this country, might be able to retain what is left of many of its fine old houses by employing this as a viable solution, at least for the older part of town. I read that there were plans to demolish many buildings in the old quarter, and to do that would be a great shame.
Meanwhile, New Orleans needs to make its surrounding walls higher and stronger if it’s to remain below sea level, but not just of earthen levees – surely these days not an impossible feat? We built the Panama Canal, which still stands impervious to all of nature’s fury.
It has already been proposed that a central section of the city be rebuilt on walled high ground, and that essential services, such as government and hospitals, be rebuilt with this protection. Unfortunately, that suggestion, made years ago, was ignored.
And it is well to remember that the Dutch began tackling their watery North Sea elements two thousand years ago, and, given that about a third of their country is below sea level, with windmills, hydraulics, pumps, and steel and concrete pilings in their levees, they’ve been there, done that, and have plenty of wet tee shirts to show for it, and a treasure house of stored experience. We don’t need to learn as we go.
Please Mr. President, invite them over with a team of experts to help solve the New Orleans problem. (And speaking of wet tee shirts, tell them to bring my old friend Xaviera Hollander along with them as their cheery mascot.)