Saturday, August 30, 2008

Atheists can pray, too

Send some happy thoughts to New Orleans once more, folks.
HAVANA (AP) -- Hurricane Gustav has blown into the Gulf of Mexico after raking the western tip of Cuba and causing numerous injuries.

As of late Saturday, the storm's center was about 530 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving northwest at almost 15 miles-an-hour.

Gustav's winds have dropped slightly, to just under 140 miles-per-hour. That makes it still a powerful Category Four hurricane. And it's expected to gain strength over the warm waters of the Gulf. Forecasters look for winds is excess of 156 miles-an-hour, which would make it an extremely dangerous Category Five storm, the worst there is. Only three such storms have ever hit the U.S. mainland since they began keeping records.

Gustav is expected to hit the northern Gulf Coast sometime Monday afternoon, on course now for the region around New Orleans.
A brief sidebar: please, stop talking about abandoning New Orleans. For some reason, I only ever hear conservatives say this, and it comes across pretty gratingly -- "why do they keep spending money on that black city" is all I hear.

But for the record: there is only one place on Earth where the Mississippi river reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi, in turn, carries 60% of America's food exports. New Orleans exists where it does for a reason, and when you say "abandon New Orleans" you just make clear a) how little you understand about global trade and b) how ignorant you are of the constraints geography places on our reality.


matt said...

Well, I think New Orleans should mostly be abandoned, and I am pretty far on the liberal side of things.

The river will continue to flow into the Gulf whether there anyone lives in New Orleans or not. Just because there are port facilities there doesn't mean it makes sense to leave people living (ever-further) below sea level in one of the most hurricane-prone locations in the world. In the medium-to-long run I don't see how it is a viable location for a major city.

Eventually during some storm the Mississippi is going to overwhelm the Old River Control Structure and the water will all move into the Atchafalaya leaving New Orleans riverless anyway.

Gar Lipow said...

Matt, we could get the Levees up to a level that would handle a Class 5 hurricane for less than the cost of one month in Iraq. Not good enough? So spend a second month in Iraq's worth to make them stronger than that. Spend another six months in Iraq worth to strengthen the entire river control system.

Liam said...

While New Orleans may be an important shipping hub it need not be a city where people actually live in. Perhaps port works could could commute to the port via train/highway instead of actually living in New Orleans. I'm willing to bet that a significant portion of of the 160,498 people that are employed because of the port don't actually live in New Orleans, and thus those that do live in New Orleans could commute. Would it be a hassle? Of course it would, but so is rebuilding the city and maintaining the levees.

Alternatively, railway tracks could be added to cart food to the west and east coasts.

celestialspeedster said...

Do not abandon New Orleans because where else will middle-aged Americans with bad tattoos be able to re-live their frosh week again and again? And the city's racial tension alone can hold the levees up to Category Six storms, at least.