In 1900, when a monster hurricane nearly wiped out Galveston, Texas, the citizenry ultimately responded by literally raising the level of the city and rebuilding. Think about that ... 1900 ... 6,000 to 8,000 dead ... a city (and many buildings) raised up to 17 feet higher ... no FEMA nor any other significant federal intervention ... no helicopters ... no cable news.
In a two-day, unscientific online poll this week, more than one-third of 518 of my newspaper's readers believed rebuilding New Orleans would be too dangerous and costly.
While two-thirds said the city should be rebuilt in some fashion, three-quarters of those (47 percent of all our poll-takers) liked the idea only if the city were situated at a higher elevation.
Only 19 percent — fewer than one in five — believed New Orleans should be re-created exactly as it was.
Is it possible? Technically yes. Would it be difficult? Hell, yeah. Is it the right solution? Who knows. One amazingly indignant Florida reader has already castigated us for being so stupid as to suggest a city's elevation could be raised to protect it (more or less) from future hurricanes, but Galveston has already proven it's not impossible. Perhaps our major handicap today is our impatient insistence on fast-food solutions that can be FedEx'd. It's a damn good thing contemporary Americans didn't choose to build the Great Wall ... it might have become the Biggest Wall We Could Build in a 40-Hour Week.