Will Hurricane Katrina demand several cities be razed and wiped from the earth and rebuilt from the ground up in the interest of public health and safety? Should places like New Orleans — a living suicide trap of a city dangerously poised below sea level between walls of water — even be rebuilt?
From a Public Health perspective it is difficult to see how the cities like Gulfport, Biloxi and New Orleans can survive without being completely torn down first. I was born in tornado country and while tornadoes are terrible, once they touch down they are basically gone and you clean up. Tsunamis and Hurricanes are worse than tornadoes because of the water factor. When the storm is over, the water stays.
Standing water is an open Petri dish of disease. Parasites quickly breed. Human waste is mixed in the rising sludge. Dead bodies float in the muck. The lack of a potable water supply sets off a chain of major public health crises that will be difficult to reliably overcome any time soon. When you need to get people healthy the first assumed line of defense is access to clean water. Once the water recedes there is still the question of rotted wood and malformed materials and mold and structural building integrity that will all likely demand total demolition of everything left standing. Water is insidious as it supports life and drowns deaths.
Water seeps everywhere. Water shatters places that cannot withstand its force. Mississippi is already short on blood and IVs. How can you begin to heal the ill when you can’t reach them and they can’t reach you and even if you were in the same room together you don’t have a way to disinfect and begin the process living all over again. Water is a sleek and powerful delivery system but when the water is bad it is a silent and efficient killer.