Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Scuba Diving in New Orleans

There is enough information linked on the web that talks about the disaster in New Orleans, so my linking to it seems redundant. Still, as details come out, this is becoming a disaster of huge proportions. With the city wiped out, still underwater and even with water removed still below sea level and in the path of future hurricaines, does it make sense to return to New Orleans? Suppose you are a resident and your home has been flooded/wiped out. Chances are, you also lost your place of employment. Would now be a good time to relocate? Assuming they pump the water out of the French Quarter, is there any good reason to invest in property there again?

If you do, perhaps you should buy a boat.

But to get to the main point of this post, it got me to thinking. I suppose there will be scuba divers who, if not already, will soon be diving into the flooded areas of New Orleans for various purposes. These dives would be very unique and also potentially hazardous. I suppose diving would be a handy activity for the many looters who are currently redistributing wealth, and it will be an obvious activity for those trying to repair the water pumps. Search and Rescue might possibly utilize divers, although that would likely be the grisly duty of body retrieval at this point.

Plus, it's gotta be quite gross diving there. Raw sewage, decomposing bodies, bacteria and tons of silt would all make it smell bad and reduce underwater visibility to near zero. Any diver would be at a great risk of catching diseases, to say the least. There would also be a danger of puking into the regulator, which while that sounds a bit silly, can be a real concern if you are submerged inside a building with no rapid way to an alternate air source.

Ah yes, buildings. They say most aren't built to withstand water like this, so they will be very unstable. Probably moreso once the water has been pumped out though. Local authorities have been warning people about all sorts of animals as well, including snakes, crocodiles and one report of a 3-4 foot shark 'cruising the streets.' I had to link that one because nobody would believe me otherwise. Maybe soon we will know the answer to the question "If a shark and a crocodile got in a fight, who would win?"

But despite the dangers, grimness and grossness, it would be truly unique. There aren't many submerged urban areas in the world, and of those, this is probably the only one that isn't yet grown over with aqua life. If the visibility improves over the next few days, it could also make for some amazingly surreal photos (like a snapshot of said shark, swimming past a street sign.) I just hope the divers that do go down in New Orleans are busy helping out people and not busy looting.

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