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James Gill on Flood Control Politics

By January 14, 2006katrina

James Gill, the acerbic Brit who writes op-ed pieces for the Times Picayune, has poignant observations about the recent political junket that several A-list Louisiana politicians took to Holland to study the Dutchh flood-control technology:

OK, evacuees. You all can move back, because there’ll be no repeat of the Katrina disaster. We’ve got the skinny now. Gov. Kathleen Blanco has gawped at the Maeslandt Barrier, and we can all sleep easier…."We want to learn from the know-how you have already acquired," Blanco told Dutch officials. The Dutch do indeed know the secret to avoiding the devastation of hurricanes. It is to live in latitudes where they do not occur.

The Dutch superiority in flood control does not necessarily bespeak a technological edge. America could obviously build a Category 5 system at the drop of a hat if it were willing to spend the money. The Corps of Engineers could keep us all as dry as a Dutchman if politics didn’t stand in the way. In any case, the canal floodwalls collapsed during Katrina not because we hadn’t adopted Dutch techniques but because we couldn’t even get a primitive system right.

Yep, we need a barrier against political inefficiency and ineptitude, but unfortunately there is no technical solution to that problem.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

One Comment

  • Aaron says:

    That’s hilarious. I guess after they got back from the Netherlands they realized building the levees out of peat-dirt might have been one of the problems…or not.

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