I got a lot of riding done in 95 degree heat today. It felt so, so good. I was jetting through Central City on my way down to the Marigny when I saw this lot, vacant except for these stilts upon which a house will hopefully soon be perched. I have never lived in a place where putting your house on stilts is necessary practice. But this place is going to flood again, no doubt about it, especially given the fact that the levees are apparently in no better shape than they were in 2005. And if you want to protect your house, you’ve got to raise it over the water. New housing ordinances in fact demand certain minimum raises, depending on the flood zone. What struck me about this site/sight was the lack of a house. There’s a certain presumption here–that a house is on its way–but given the rate of rebuilding in this city, and in this part of the city in particular, there is no sure thing that these supports will support anything other than heavy, humid air.
And then there was this house, already built, but being cranked high above the ground. Now, most homes in the area are raised somewhat. The house I rent, for example, is raised a couple feet, the stilts hidden by siding. This house, however, is seriously raised. The thing towers over the street, dwarfing the stop/one way sign and the huge truck parked outside. These folks are preparing, for real. But this made me wonder: is there any way to really prepare? What good is it to save your individual property if the city itself is going under? Central City is, like many neighborhoods here, plagued by this question, I think. One wants to save one’s property, especially given the role private property plays in our world, but when your neighbors don’t come back, when the infrastructure is shot, when the stores and bars and salons and restaurants disappear, what good is it to be in your home on stilts? Raising individual homes is one thing; fixing the levees for real and stopping coastal degradation is something entirely different, and something that might actually have a chance to save us all.