Pat Shingleton: "Lake Mead and New Orleans..."
Lake Mead is located on the border of Nevada and Arizona. In 1865, Mormon settlers founded the town of St. Thomas. By 1867 the growing community had 500 residents and in the 1910s it was a growing frontier town. Hoover Dam was constructed in the 1920s to not only control the Colorado River but to provide water for drinking, crop irrigation and electric power. In the 1930s, St. Thomas wasn't thriving so there wasn't much of a dispute by residents when told their town would be 64 feet underwater because of the Hoover Dam. In a strange turn of events, eight years ago, Lake Mead receded more than 100 feet. At lower levels, a high-water marks or white bathtub ring have been chronicled in photos; caused by the mineral deposits on submerged surfaces. Since the drop in the water level, surprisingly, the town of St. Thomas was uncovered. Archaeologists and historians found a treasure trove of relics including Native American artifacts from the Anasazi settlement. Part of the lake that boaters enjoyed remains a hiker's adventure. In closing, years after New Orleans was first settled, the region was above sea level and virtually protected from hurricanes due to the construction of levees and control structures. Before jetties were constructed, ships would wait days for deep water to navigate the mouth blocking sandbars of The Mississippi. The shipping channels will always remain open due to these jetties, extending two miles into the Gulf, for what is now the busiest port in the United States. Twenty percent of all U.S. exports, including 60% of all grain exports, pass through this region. Since the storm in August, a variety of opinions have been offered. I remember the March 6, 2006 issue of TIME magazine, under the banner VIEWPOINT, and an excellent article by former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich and Rising Tide author, John M. Barry. It is entitled, “Why New Orleans Needs Saving,” on the city’s vulnerability and its strength.
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