Re "Misery and Water Keep Rising," Aug. 31
Since much of their country lies below sea level, the Dutch have held back the colossal pressure of the North Sea and its frequent storms for hundreds of years, more recently by a vast system of concrete and steel dikes. After decades of controversial national and local water-control projects, why was New Orleans seemingly protected from the waters of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain only by two earthen berms on either side of the city?
DAVID R. GINSBURG
Re "Desperate hours," editorial, Aug. 31
I'm not sure there was a firm understanding of the problems of building a city lower than sea level in the 18th century, but this is the 21st century, and it's time for a review. Your editorial alluded to how many variables were, and will be, at work in this crisis: global warming, increased price of gasoline, the failure of the levees. Hard questions, indeed, linger; among them the possibility of improving New Orleans, not merely rebuilding what has been destroyed.
I've heard it proposed that the people who persist in rebuilding in, say, Malibu, should take the responsibility, and not expect FEMA (our tax dollars) to rescue them so they can rebuild on the same risky slopes. Since there is a higher percentage of the population living in poverty than ever before, and since the federal government is claiming to be so broke and since this kind of crisis is straining the insurance companies, doesn't it make sense to consider building New Orleans somewhere else, preferably above sea level?