One of the nation’s cities of celebration is slowly sinking

By on October 4, 2001

One of the nation’s cities known for continuous celebration may just be underwater in 50 years.
The ABC News website has recently reported that scientists believe the city of New Orleans, Louisiana is sinking. The city was built on the soft silt of the Mississippi River. Floods in the past were contained with levees, causing the city to continue to sink.
According to ABC News, 70 percent of the city is below sea level. The well known French Quarter has sank two feet in last sixty years.
Chip Groat, head of the United States geological survey, explains that people have a reason to be concerned. “The reason many people are ringing the alarm bells is it’s not a situation that is going to get better with time because we’ve got nature working against us,” he said.
Shea Penland, a geologist at the University of New Orleans, compared New Orleans to “a city in a bowl.”
“It’s below sea level, the land has sunk, and as a result, the city has to pump water into the Mississippi River.
The condition of the city now puts it at risk for being destroyed by a severe hurricane.
The Louisiana marshlands are vanishing underwater, leaving New Orleans at risk for a similar dissapearance. Those marshlands are the only buffer for hurricanes that consistently come out of the Gulf of Mexico.
The statistics surrounding this phenomenon are amazing. According to ABC News, every fifteen minutes, “an area the size of a football field sinks underwater.” This means that every year, 25 square miles of land is lost.
Even more land will likely sink as global warming causes the Gulf to rise.
It is possible that the effort to save the city will take up to $14 billion to complete, a sum of money which has not yet been raised. Geologist Joseph Suheyda at the Lousiana State University at Baton Rouge, sees one possible alternative.
“What we’re evaluating is the possibility of putting a barrier cutting across the southern part of the city,” says Suheyda. The wall could be as tall as 25 feet.


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