A City Rebuilt from the Aftermath

I forgot to post this when I saw it on the news last week. I thought it was a nice story.

In contrast to the devisation in New Orleans, another city has recently finished rebuilding from another disaster. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, parts of San Francisco, as well as the rest of the Bay Area, were left in shambles. 16 years later, the reconstruction is finally complete. After several years of political turmoil, a section of damaged freeway has been rebuilt. Prior to its reconstruction, it served as a center for drugs and prostitution. Now, it has been redone better than ever. It has been cleaned up and was also designed with modern traffic concerns in mind. The planners also included a park for the neighborhood.

Here are some articles I was able to dig up:
San Francisco Chronicle - 9-8
San Francisco Chronicle - 9-13
San Francisco Examiner - 9-11
New York Times - 9-11

I don’t think this is comparable at all.

SF’s task of rebuilding was childs play compared to what NO will have to do.

The damage in New Orleans is multiple orders of magnitude worse than anything seen here in 1989.

I wasn’t trying to compare them, just show that while the recovery effort in on place is just starting, there’s another place that has just finished.

However, if you’re looking for a city that took comparable damage but rebuilt, there’s a few other tales to look at. There’s the SF earthquake in 1906. Another that comes to mind is the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

I think NO has a great opertunity to rebuild it’s city with modern ideas and infastructure in mind. The only problem is the money, time, and energy after what seems to be an endless clean-up.

If you are interested in this topic, look into the rebuilding of Galveston, Texas after their devastating hurricane. It does compare with NO, with much of the island overwashed and completely destroyed by storm surge.

In rebuilding they raised the entire city onto pillars and created a seawall.

As for NO- well maybe some of the lowest areas should be made into open green space and the people should relocate to higher ground elsewhere. Another hurricane WILL hit in the future- no question.


this is going to be a tough call. A lot of the citys infrastructure is still there, the streets and highways, the underpavement sewers and waterlines

but most of the buildings that were underwater will have to be demolished. So you will be left with thousands of residental blocks with no houses on them.

The decision seems like its going to rest on whether a levy system can be buillt that can withstand anything nature can throw at it, a Cat 5+ storm?

what else? there are fault lines in the area that cause earthquakes every 100+ year or more. A tidal wave? a terrorist attack?

Personally I would never live or work in a location that is below sea level, no matter how well they said it is protected., and I would not ask anyone else to either.

In may of 2001 I visited the World Trade Center. Standing near the edge of the roof top observatory I reallized that someday, sooner or later, those buildings would come down. They could not last for 1000 years, probabally not 500 years, so one way or another they would come down eventually.

It was a creepy feeling, being over 1000 feet in the air standing on something you knew was temporary.

We need to learn from these disasters and not set ourselves up for such things to happen again. And by learn I dont mean build stronger or better - I mean learn that there are forces of nature, and human nature, that we will never be able to control.

It’s all about risk vs reward. Every time your car pulls out of your driveway, there’s a chance that your neighborhood’s crazed Hummer driver will flatten you. The reward for using your car outweighs the risk. There’s also spicy food. If it burns coming in, it’ll burn going out. That doesn’t stop most people though.

If you’re living in a place that will be leveled every few years or so, that seems questionable to me. In contrast, a big earthquake hits California every 50+ years. A massive one hits every 100+ years. There’s plenty of time to enjoy yourself before a 7.5+ destroys your house. Although, I figure that some sort of underground, bunker-like habitat that’s suspended with giant springs could probably survive an earthquake that’s short of powerful enough to open up the ground and swollow everything. But, I also figure that it’d be obscenely expensive. That’s why nobody does it.

Bringing this example back to New Orleans, it should be easy to build a levee to survive a category 5. What we have to ask is whether or not it’s worth the money and resources. This is only the third category 5 to hit the US in recorded US history. I think the other two were in Florida. Should we spend some billions of dollars to prepare for an event that only comes around every 200+ years? While we’re at it, let’s build a giant laser so we don’t have to send Bruce Willis to destory the asteroid. It killed off the dinosaurs a some millions of years ago, it put a big dent in Jupiter a few years ago, it’s only a matter of time before it comes for us…

I also agree with you that building below sea level is blatantly bad. It’s like knowing that the crazed Hummer driver lives on your street and depending on the stop sign at the corner to keep him away from you as you pull your car out. This isn’t the same as living at the base of a dormant volcano and building a lava wall (I doubt these exist, but let’s assume they do for the sake of argument) or living in an earthquake zone and using special building techniques or even having levees to stop flood waters during a storm. In these cases, you’re depending on your measures to keep you safe in the event something goes wrong. Building below sea level next to a lake and a river is depending on your measures to keep you safe period. If your anti-lake/river levees fail, you will be flooded. If your lava wall fails, it won’t be a problem as long as its failure doesn’t coincide with an eruption.

since they have to bull-doze most of the residential areas anyway, I wonder what would be less expensive in the long run:

A. putting up bigger levys, and then maybe rebuilding the city again someday when a cat 6 storm swamps them or

B. Filling in the whole area to raise the ground level 20 feet above sea level?

this is what I think should be done:
A new city, or major additions to an exsisting one should be built instead of rebuilding New Orleans. They should keep The Big Easy as a commericial port because of its location but after that, theres not much use. Possibly additions on to Galveston Texas, the site of the deadlist hurricane ever (8,000 people died when a storm serge caused the freshwater lake to burst its banks in a big way.) Galveston would be the ideal site since a good bit of the residences have already been relocated there and some business is in that area already.

Now on to my main point, biggest rebuild projects ever! This is where I think New Orleans as a city ranks in rebuilding.
1.) Great Fire of London I picked this because the fact that London was soo important on the world scale. As in the largest and most powerful city on the planet at the time. Kudos to Christopher Wren for designing almost all 87 Churches and Cathedrals when it was rebuilt.
2.) New Orleans, reports saying that some 160,000 homes may need to be demolished. Speaks for itself.
3.) Indonesia-2004 This is bad enough because everything was swept away, at least there are still roads connecting whats left of new orleans to everything else.
4.) Great Fire of Rome they are still talking about it…
5.) Galveston Hurricane of 1900 soo bad it lead to Political reform and eventually City Councils instead of mayors.

Good to mention
Hurricane of 1780 killed possibly 20,000 and leveled numerous islands. A surveyor thought the hurricane was accomponied with an earthquake. But there wasn’t much rebuilding to do