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Where are the Calls to Abandon Pennsylvania?

For almost a year now, near daily, I read someone who thinks they are intelligent pontificating that we should abandon New Orleans. Of course the same is never said about California or Florida or anywhere else that might be impacted by the environment.

Today we get the news that Pennsylvania is flooding. Again.

Pennsylvania Flooding Forces Evacuations

Up to 200,000 people in the Wilkes-Barre area were ordered to evacuate their homes Wednesday because of rising water on the Susquehanna River, swelled by a record-breaking deluge that has killed at least 12 people across the Northeast.

Thousands more were ordered to leave their homes in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Rescue helicopters plucked residents from rooftops as rivers and streams surged over their banks, washed out roads and bridges, and cut off villages in some of the worst flooding in the region in decades, with more rain in the forecast for the rest of the week.

Wilkes-Barre, a city of 43,000 in northeastern Pennsylvania coal-mining country, was devastated by deadly flooding in 1972 from the remnants of Hurricane Agnes. It is protected by levees, and officials said the Susquehanna was expected to crest just a few feet from the tops of the 41-foot floodwalls.

41 FOOT floodwalls?!? The highest levees in New Orleans are about 15 feet.

They built 41 food floodwalls to protect 43,000 people. Obviously this area floods and as all the New Orleans bashers love to say, "It's not a case of IF it will flood again but WHEN it will flood again."

This graphic of flood events per county makes the point:

pafloodmap.gif
Click image for full size.

From the same source. Virtually no state in the union has the challenges of flooding that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does.

120 flood events in 50 years? Truly if there is a place that should be abandoned it is Pennsylvania. -- And yes, for my more simple readers, Pennsylvania is above sea-level.

Of course you'll never hear cries to abandon Pennsylvania. Nobody will call the residents of Pennsylvania stupid. Nobody will insult their intelligence for living behind 41 foot levees. Nobody will complain that taxpayer dollars went to build a 41 foot levee system to protect only 43,000 people.

You'll never hear that about a northern state.

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Comments (17)

Paul, have been thoroughly ... (Below threshold)

Paul, have been thoroughly wet and miserable during the Hurrican Agnes flooding of 1972, I have an appreciation of flooding. Sadly, the flood walls in Pennsylvania are not primarily intended to protect the cities but to move the water further down the line. The Corps has always found it easier to move the flood someplace else than actually engineer for the flood.

That said, the Corps and the other folks doing the planning over the last two generation in the New Orleans area had their heads, well, you know where. Elbowing each other aside for a turn at the Federal trough may have gotten Louisiana politicians elected but it did not provide the necessary work on flood safety that New Orleans still badly needs.

This are of PA was devestag... (Below threshold)
Natalie:

This are of PA was devestaged by Hurricane Agnes in 1973. They immediately started a campaign to build levees and they were only completed in 2003. If PA found a way to build these levees, than what do you ahve to harp about? They made it happen to protect their citizens. Only a fool would begrudge them that. If New Orleans could not make that happen, I am sorry about that, but don't fault anyone else for doing what they felt they needed to do.

The difference being:... (Below threshold)
smitty:

The difference being:

1)Pennsylvania is a state, New Orleans is a city.
2)Pennsylvania is above sea level, 2/3 of New Orleans is below sea level.

Does it make sense to rebuild a city that is below sea level and surrounded on three sides by water? A city the will, inevitably, be hit by another hurricane ir, even worse, be inundated by rising ocean levels.

The port of New Orleans is important and should be protected, as should those portions of the city that are sufficently above sea level to survive a major hurricane. Otherwise we're throwing money away.

PA is above sea level. If i... (Below threshold)
ironman:

PA is above sea level. If it floods, nature will dry it out. It's called gravity

Had the Corps not fixed the pumps. NOLA would still be flooded.

Ahh, why not try to repeal the laws of physics when we find them inconvenient

What difference does it mak... (Below threshold)
Natalie:

What difference does it make if it is a city or a state? The levees you are talking about only serve one city-Wilkes-Barre. It is not a waste of money if it saves lives.

What people like Smitty don... (Below threshold)

What people like Smitty don't understand is that New Orleans is where it is for a reason, and that reason is economic. A port city can by definition only be on the water, and New Orleans is a port in not one but two areas -- an ocean port and a river port, where cargo imported from overseas can be transferred to boats for transit up the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio river system and vice versa. This transit point has to be located somewhere, and there is simply no other place for it to be located than New Orleans.

And what people like Smitty further don't understand is that New Orleans has a much older analog on the other side of the world -- Alexandria, Egypt. Like New Orleans, Alexandria was founded where it is so cargo could be transported from the sea to river ports. And, like New Orleans, it is sinking into the sea. In fact, it has been sinking into the sea for all of its 2300 year existence. Where New Orleans has hurricanes as its nemeses, Alexandria has earthquakes. As a result, much of Alexandria is now ruined and under water (the Pharos lighthouse and Cleopatra's palace, for example).

But Alexandria's 2300 year existence suggests a certain longevity based on the favorable economics of its location. New Orleans should be treated similarly.

I live in PA and an importa... (Below threshold)
jack:

I live in PA and an important thing to remember is it has tons of rivers/streams and even more hills. When a flood is recorded it's much more localized. A city like Pittsburgh or Altoona or Harrisburg would never flood to the level NO did, as there's not that much flat space.

The total amount of levees ... (Below threshold)

The total amount of levees in and around Wilkes-Barre is about 13 miles. This is slightly more than the length of the Industrial Canal alone. A very tall levee is more often needed in hilly or mountainous terrain, too.

In other words, looking at the height of the levees is sorta useless, since it's the massive length that makes New Orleans a special case.

And, as pointed out above, much of the Pennsylvania levee system was paid for, built, and maintained by the local governments.

Of course, the New Orleans levee boards were supposed to be inspecting their levees, but we know how that turned out.

Jack:I flew into P... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

Jack:

I flew into Pittsburg in the early 90's after a bad flood. The main streets were littered with boats, overturned cars, and floe ice. Downtown didn't strike me as being hilly enough to escape the flood danger. Why would anyone live there?

New Orleans needs to be protected because it is a valuable vacation destination twice a year. However, I can't imagine why anyone would live there. Nor can I understand why NOLA and Houston residents buy their vacation condos along the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida "coasts." Ugh, I hate that part of the world.

All Federal relief dollars and insurance money should be reserved for rebuilding heaven every year. Southern California's earthquakes, brush fires, floods, mudslides, etc. are worth the money.

Screw everyone else.

I understand Paul's point. ... (Below threshold)
jaymaster:

I understand Paul's point. But I will also try to make a point of my own. Possibly unrelated, but then again, maybe it is related.

If an elected official in PA, (outside the city of Philly, of course) ordered their citizens to turn over their guns because of some sort of "emergency", said official would be shot dead at the first possible opportunity.

That's not a threat. Just an observation from some one who is there.

Paul, the calls to abandon ... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Paul, the calls to abandon New Orleans are due more to a never-ending culture of corruption and utter ineptitude in every level of the gov't there than their problems with nature. Why rebuild it when the gov't will utterly fuck it up beyond all repair?

Why pour money into a pit where ineptitude in gov't makes a problem significantly worse?

Why pour in money when NOBODY trusts the gov't there to anything besides steal it?
-=Mike

Jaymaster, I also live in P... (Below threshold)

Jaymaster, I also live in PA, and you're totally right. I'd be first in line.

Philly is part of NJ now anyway, right?

I will have to be blunt. I ... (Below threshold)
David:

I will have to be blunt. I have no clue about the intent of this poat. THe Mississippi river has been trying fo over 50 years to change its course back to the east and we have been trying to avoid that. Nature will win. Let's take this chance to make NO the theme park it really is and quit trying to force nature fulfill our pathetic whims.

...if NO is so damned "valu... (Below threshold)
leelu:

...if NO is so damned "valuable", let it pay for its own rebuilding.

Elbowing each other asid... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Elbowing each other aside for a turn at the Federal trough may have gotten Louisiana politicians elected but it did not provide the necessary work on flood safety that New Orleans still badly needs.

Actually... If you knew what you were talking about... More than enough money was spent... The walls came down do to Corps negligence. Money had nothing to do with it.

==========

Thank you Natalie for not having any idea what you are talking about.

===========

And thank you smitty for proving my point.....

Does it make sense to rebuild a city that is below sea level and surrounded on three sides by water? A city the will, inevitably, be hit by another hurricane ir, even worse, be inundated by rising ocean levels.

they flooded 120 times in 50 years you nitwit I don't care if they are "above sea-level" they flood almost 3 times per year. MAN thinking never slowed you down in life huh?

==============

sigh ironman proves it's not his brain that is so tough....

PA is above sea level. If it floods, nature will dry it out. It's called gravity

they flooded 3 times per year for 50 years. sea-level sme-level you numbskull.

================
In other words, looking at the height of the levees is sorta useless, since it's the massive length that makes New Orleans a special case.

Close but no cigar. I've been told that the mere fact we needed levees proved we should be abandoned. Forgetting about half the U.S. population lives behind a levee of some type.
================

ANd MikeSC did ignorantly opin:

Paul, the calls to abandon New Orleans are due more to a never-ending culture of corruption and utter ineptitude in every level of the gov't there than their problems with nature. Why rebuild it when the gov't will utterly fuck it up beyond all repair?

sigh. Clueless... Just clueless. The so-called "culture of corruption" had NOTHING To do with NOLA flooding. In fact the final congressional report SPECIFICALLY said that there was not even a whiff of corruption anywhere near the building of the levees.

If you want to abandon cities becasue of a "culture of corruption" New Orleans can be abandoned right after Chicago, Washington DC and Las Vegas.

====================

and lastly... my favorite....

...if NO is so damned "valuable", let it pay for its own rebuilding.
Posted by: leelu at June 29, 2006 12:54 AM

Thank you leelu for proving my point.


The amount of people blind ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

The amount of people blind to irony on this thread is amazing.

I prove how idiotic a certain behavor is in the post then people line up to do it.

Thank you all for making my point better than my words ever could.

BTW- It's official. Common sense is dead.

Yeah Paul. Long time, no s... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Yeah Paul. Long time, no see. Keep up the good fight. They won't listen, but one day the truth will be heard.




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