Thursday, January 04, 2007

Those who do not learn from history . . . .

A common pattern after disasters is to rebuild with the same vulnerabilities rather than learning from the experience. This seems to be happening in New Orleans today, as the Washington Post reports:
"It's terrifying: We're doing the same things we have in the past but expecting different results," said Robert G. Bea, a professor of civil engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and a former New Orleans resident who served as a member of the National Science Foundation panel that studied the city's levees.

"There are areas where it doesn't make any sense to rebuild -- they got 20 feet of water in Katrina," said Tom Murphy, a former Pittsburgh mayor who served on an Urban Land Institute panel for post-Katrina planning. "In those places, nature is talking to us, and we ought to be listening. I don't think we are."

A map of building permits in Orleans Parish, created by GCR & Associates, a New Orleans firm involved in the rebuilding, shows renovations distributed throughout the city's low-lying areas. A similar phenomenon is underway in neighboring St. Bernard Parish, which was even more devastated by the storm.

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