The Case Against Raising Your House

One last crucial element of fixing my house was the air conditioner, which got installed today. My plan for the weekend is to sit on the couch and bask in it.

When the guy came out to give an estimate, he gave me the option of putting the air conditioner on a stand, so in theory it would not be ruined if there were another flood. He said tons of people have been doing that lately, and I have noticed this trend as well. It was an extra $300 and I opted not to do it. I figure it this way; if another Katrina hits, I’d much rather have $1,500 in insurance money than a working A/C unit in a dead city. I have this recurring thought every time I see people preparing for another deluge, like when people jack their houses up fifteen feet into the air. The thought is that those people are crazy.

I’ll admit, early on in my house renovation, I was taking steps to rebuild in such a fashion that would make things easier to re-do if there was another flood. Specifically I made sure all of my electrical outlets were 4 feet from the floor so that most of the wiring would be intact. I used hardibacker under some of the flooring because it’s more water resistant than plywood. For some of the walls I used beadboard or beaded plywood because it might not get ruined the way drywall would.

But at some point I finally arrived at the logical conclusion that none of that shit matters. Because let’s face it folks, if there’s a repeat of Katrina, nobody is coming back. Even the most die-hard New Orleanians among us are not going to put themselves through all this bullshit again. Even if they are, how can the city survive? Who is going to put up the money to rebuild this city twice? Do you really think Entergy is going to bankrupt themselves fixing the power grid again? Do you really think congress would allow taxpayer money to go down here again? I sure doubt it. Hell, I’d be suprised if they even pumped the water out the second time.

Then I start thinking, if you’re going to jack your house up 10 feet off the ground, what happens if there is another flood? Your house is okay but that means you don’t get any insurance money and you’re stuck there. You can’t sell it because nobody’s going to want to live here, you probably can’t move back because there will be no infrastructure to support you, you’re fucked! I guess on the upside, your stuff won’t be ruined. Anyway, just thinking out loud here. Does anyone out there really think the city has a chance if another Katrina hits?

10 Comments so far

  1. Craig (unregistered) on June 15th, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

    Practicality has nothing to do with it. People still live in Centralia PA and on Montserrat. It’s a matter of time before San Francisco shakes and burns again. Name a place and I’ll name you a disaster of some sort.

    Folks live where they feel they must — for whatever reasons. And sometimes they can’t define one — aside from Just Because.


  2. Chris Martel (unregistered) on June 15th, 2007 @ 10:20 pm

    I dunno. Sure, people can do what they want but at what point does government and commerce throw in the towel and say “we’re not rebuilding?” And who will live here if there’s no electricity, no services? I suppose if a generation goes by and this happens again, there’s a chance. If it happens again before we’re done rebuilding, there’s no chance.


  3. Chris Martel (unregistered) on June 15th, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

    And Centralia PA has a population of 12 people. Sure it’s probable that New Orleans would retain a tiny fraction of its original population but that’s not really what I’m getting at. I’m sure real estate in Centralia is not booming.


  4. Please (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 12:30 am

    Congress appropriated some $42 million in the 1980s for relocation–to nearby towns–of Centralia residents. And that $42 million was for only a few hundred people. You’re not even taking into consideration the amount of money it would take to destroy existing properties, relocate essential businesses, help those relocated with job hunting (since they can’t easily be moved nearby, as in the Centralia case, without creating massive traffic problems and whatnot, which also cost serious amounts of money for new infrastructure and govt. services), etc., etc. You’d be better off just spending the money on sensible, but state-of-the-art flood control systems and wetlands restoration.


  5. Please (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 12:38 am

    Also worth mentioning: The state of Pennsylvania also claimed all the properties in Centralia under eminent domain law. This would be next to impossible to do citywide in New Orleans in almost any given situation (the aftermath near-future hurricane, say), thanks to the law approved by voters in the wake of the Kelo v. New London backlash.


  6. Mark Folse (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 6:47 am

    Entergy hasn’t backrupted themselves. They’re doing just fine, thanks. It’s only Entergy New Orleans, a shell company, that was bankrupt. The laws are written quite cleverly to make sure that the parent company, the one with actual stockholders, is insulated from any risk. That’s why government keeps the rates so low (snigger).


  7. Mark Folse (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 6:47 am

    Entergy hasn’t backrupted themselves. They’re doing just fine, thanks. It’s only Entergy New Orleans, a shell company, that was bankrupt. The laws are written quite cleverly to make sure that the parent company, the one with actual stockholders, is insulated from any risk. That’s why government keeps the rates so low, to balance out the low ris. (snigger).


  8. Craig (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 8:59 am

    Well, I understand where you’re coming from. Anyone who chooses to build in or live in an area at or below the level of surrounding water needs to be completely aware of what they’re doing and take with a large box of Morton’s Iodized Salt the idea that government will “protect” them. After all, Mother Nature bats last.

    But at the same time, I’ll take the odds of a disaster every 300 years (even a man-made one like the levee failure). Our track record here is a lot better than it’s been in, oh, South Florida and some other spots in hurricane-prone areas.


  9. oyster (unregistered) on June 17th, 2007 @ 11:27 am

    “Does anyone out there really think the city has a chance if another Katrina hits?”

    Sure, the city has a great chance if “another Katrina” hits the Mississippi coast, assuming the rebuilt flood protection holds. Let’s “make the case” for raising the levees.


  10. GentillyGirl (unregistered) on June 17th, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    We’ve raised our house to 9+ feet, and we aren’t in the true “Flood zone”. If we take water in the house the “Sliver By the River” will have 3 feet of water.

    As far as infrastructure goes, we’ll have the geo-thermal running and our solar system to keep the joint hopping. We also have a 5-stage RO that can keep the water from the taps clean. Damages to the cottages will be minimal as they are being redone in mold resistant materials.

    The insurance B/S from a flood will be easier than the last Unpleasantness…

    Understand, I can’t leave… this is the town where my people lived for centuries. This is one of the few places on Earth that I’m happy in, even if it was just a place of 5,000 inhabitants and two bars.

    New Orleans will always be rebuilt. The Nation relies on us for so much of it’s operation. (If it wasn’t for the nut-job in the White House, things would have gone more smoothly after the Federal Flood.) Ultimately the city will be protected by a Dutch-style system.

    BTW- I’ve decided to have a tough inflatable raft with an outboard just so’s we can zoom over to Gene’s and get a po’ boy if the water’s a little deep.



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