What Are We Doing?

Last I heard this morning, two ships and a barge were loose in the Mississippi and knocking against the walls of the industrial canal.  General Honore, in his thi-ay-ick New Awlee-aa-aans accent said, "Dis just a lesson for next time." Yeah.  A big one.  Tie down the huge boats in the river before it rises.

Another one: don't hire the same company to do the same job it already butchered once.  I heard a man on NPR say the Army Corps shoved newspapers in the seams of the levee near his house a few weeks ago just in case there were a few holes.

This whole thing is so surreal, I feel like the best kind of hurricane coverage would be a cartoon version of the Gulf Coast/Gustav events.

What happens is:

a real live bayou (which, incidentally, is what the 9th ward used to be) lets water into the outlying coastal land of an area.

And then, this is the beauty of it:

the vegetation of a bayou breaks up the storm surge and lets the water back out before it seeps further inland.

But, after our flawed manhands got all dirty in nature, what we have is:

a 300 mile length of levees letting water in (over the top, through small holes, through massive breaches like last time) and then we have to pump it back out.

Only thing is, the pumps don't work underwater.

Every time it rains hard in New Orleans, a three foot pool of water gathers under the West End overpass.  Three feet away from the three-foot-deep puddle is a massive pumping system that looks like something out of Star Wars but has a disclaimer like Gizmo's: Do Not Get Wet.  The whole thing is a glaring Comedy of Errors.

When you have water and nature and a storm, you get a Natural Disaster

When you have water and nature and the Army Corps and global warming and useless pumps and fugitive barges, and a bunch of people scrambling like panicked ants and plopping sandbags into places water insists upon, you get an Unnatural Disaster.

I don't think we should get rid of New Orleans because someone built it in the worst physical place possible.  I do think we need to revegetate the bayous that could do a better job than our bumbling engineers.

When Ellen Gilchrist flew back to the south and saw it changed by man, she wrote:

"Things change.  The only constant is change.  The land is its own God and it will heal itself if it needs to."

In other words, water goes where it wants.  That's why this afternoon, I'm watching all these "systems" with skepticism.  Remember how Hurricane Katrina passed and it was sunny and we watched the water pour through cement like a repressed and deadset juggernaut?

I wonder how much we will do to the world without realizing that our stewardship is to simply care for it; that when we try to do too much, we do worse than doing either very little or the very obvious thing.