That’s what author Mike Tidwell said in an editorial in today’s Los Angeles Times.
And it’s Bush’s fault:
We should call it quits not because New Orleans can’t be made relatively safe from hurricanes. It can be. And not because to do so is more trouble than it’s worth. It’s not. Instead, the hammers and brooms and chain saws should all be put away and the city permanently boarded up because the Bush administration has already given New Orleans a quiet kiss of death.
Apparently, Bush has decided the city is not worth saving. He has quietly slashed the guts out of what is known as the Coast 2050 Plan by funding it with only $200 million. This might be enough to fix the infrastructure symptoms, but not ameliorate the cause of the overall problem.
Again Bush has reverted to form like a Mafia strangler or knifer. The public know little about this beyond environmentalists and other activists–the same groups, of course, that are viewed with anathema by business and tourism interests. But there won’t be any business or tourism worth saving if this is set in stone.
Katrina destroyed the Big Easy — and future Katrinas will do the same — because 1 million acres of coastal islands and marshland vanished in Louisiana in the last century because of human interference. These land forms served as natural “speed bumps,” reducing the lethal surge tide of past hurricanes and making New Orleans habitable in the first place. A $14-billion plan to fix this problem — widely viewed as technically sound and supported by environmentalists, oil companies and fishermen alike — has been on the table for years and was pushed forward with greater urgency after Katrina hit. But the Bush administration has turned its back on this plan.
Instead of investing the equivalent of six weeks of spending on the Iraq war or the cost of the Big Dig in Boston, we must now prepare to pay for another, inevitable $200-billion hurricane in Louisiana. Which is why, tragically, we are better off simply cutting our losses and abandoning New Orleans right now.
And yet people are trying to return and to rebuild as we speak, and many are doing this alone, without FEMA or even insurance. Without implementing and funding the Plan to its fullest, another Katrina will wreck the city, says Tidwell. Mark Davis, director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, thinks, “Either they don’t get it or they just don’t care. But the results are the same: more disaster.” Read the whole article. Once again, the Bush administration is in disgraceful denial, and this denial will result in potentially more lives lost.
This administration does not care about its people, starting and beginning with the people who lived on the Gulf Coast. And many of them voted for this same administration.
As someone who dearly loves New Orleans, it pains me immeasurably to call for this retreat. I mean what I say. Shut the city down. To encourage people to return to New Orleans, as Bush is doing, without funding the only plan that can save the city from the next Katrina is to commit an act of mass homicide.
Anyone who doesn’t like this news — farmers who export grain through the port of New Orleans, New Englanders who heat their homes with natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico, cultural enthusiasts who like their gumbo in the French Quarter — should direct their comments straight to the White House.
Mike Tidwell is the author of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana’s Cajun Coast (Pantheon, 2003).