Thursday, September 01, 2005

Rebuild New Orleans?

My blogging has been highly sporadic of late, but I want to pose this question: Is it worthwhile to rebuild New Orleans, and why? I'm really not convinced it is at this point. Rebuild a city that is: a) below sea level; and b) in a hurricane zone? I don't really understand why it was built in the first place. Now we want to sink billions of dollars into rebuilding it PLUS building new infrastructure to protect it? If there are 1.5 million people in New Orleans (I heard that number, but don't remember where, so don't hold me to it), it would cost the gov't 7.5 billion to give everyone $5,000 to move away. Of course, property owners would also have insurance settlements to go with that, so most people would have more than the $5,000. If everyone moves away then we wouldn't have to spend billions to rebuild New Orleans the next time a hurricane hits. Isn't it an investment in the future?

That's all crass economics, which is easy to do from afar, but you know someone will sue their insurance company if their rates go up because of the New Orleans losses. I don't live in a flood zone. I don't live in a hurricane area. Why should my rates go up because other people do?

My question isn't about all of the areas affected by the hurricane, only New Orleans specifically due to its location below sea level. I've lived in a home that got flooded. I live in an area that could be affected by a tornado. I understand that natural disasters can occur anywhere. But there is something about choosing to live someplace that is most certainly going to be destroyed by a natural disaster at some point. If it wasn't a certainty then it wouldn't have been the subject of discussion prior to "The Big One."