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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina, one year later

Lots of really interesting stuff about Hurricane Katrina on the Web today, and almost all of it with special relevance to people in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

For the editorial in today's Herald, I took a look at the paper's coverage of the GF-EGF flood anniversary in April 1998. Already, the mood was upbeat and the outlines of the reconstruction were in place.

And, I predicted that the editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune would not echo Herald editor Mike Jacobs' assessment from April 1998: "For all of us - the community - progress has been remarkable, considering the situation as it existed a year ago."

I was right about that, to the best of my knowledge. But I was wrong to also assume that the words wouldn't be found anywhere in the Gulf Coast region. Because here's Stan Tiner, the editor of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun-Herald, in his column today: "Twelve months later, remarkable progress has been made, yet there is so much to do... literally years of toil ahead."

Biloxi and New Orleans are two different cities with two different cultures that endured two different disasters a year ago. And for those and other reasons, Biloxi seems to be way ahead as far as recovery goes.

The Times-Picayune does have a fascinating before-and-after slide show that's well worth viewing (click on the "Then and Now" link below the big photo on the left) ... Here's a well-done column that blames New Orleans' flood-protection infrastructure for the disaster. It includes this paragraph, which ought to make city engineers (and residents) in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks bolt upright and take notice:

"Some levees, in particular the massive earthen fortresses with wide foundations, performed well, withstanding days of water pressure with little erosion. But floodwalls designed as narrow vertical walls driven into the ground—they look like the walls built on highways to block out the noise—performed abysmally." (emphasis added)

Hnm. So in GF and EGF, exactly how well do our own floodwalls measure up, I wonder?

Here's a Washington Post column that says the New Orleans of old is gone for good. (Hat tip for the previous two links: My favorite Web site, Real Clear Politics, www.realclearpolitics.com.)

Here's a column that blames New Orleans' absurdly inefficient city government for the tragic lack of progress there. And here's a fellow who says the National Weather Service should look seriously at seeding hurricanes with a super-water-absorbing substance called Dyn-O-Gel in an effort to slash the big storms' power. Hey, I don't think it would work either, but the column's a good read ... and who knows? Maybe the stuff's worth a look.

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