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Relocate New Orleans engineers urge Bush

AMERICAN ENGINEERS this week questioned president George Bush's call for New Orleans to be rebuilt rather than relocated.

They said residents should be offered incentives to relocate away from the city.

'I think we should try and relocate all New Orleans residents that will move voluntarily, ' said American Society of Civil Engineers president-elect Bill Marcuson.

'We should also provide incentives to encourage those that want to stay to move.' His comments came after Bush had pledged to rebuild the city.

'We will not just rebuild, we'll build higher and better, ' said Bush in a speech last Friday.

But Marcuson said that badly flooded areas should become parks or be transformed into wetlands, acting as a natural flood defence system.

Only the least affected areas or New Orleans should be allowed to return to normal, he said.

Louisiana State University professor of Landscape Architecture Bruce Sharky agreed.

He added that if reconstruction took place vital infrastructure would need upgrading.

'This might include rebuilding some canals, installing locks, and perhaps the redesign of the pumping system [used to remove flood waters].'

The US Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that just upgrading the levee system at Lake Pontchartrain to withstand the severest category five hurricane would cost up to $3bn (£1.7bn).

Bush's pledge to rebuild New Orleans is widely estimated to cost £111bn.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already been given £34.3bn by congress, £6bn of which was for repairs to infrastructure but has not yet been allocated.

John McKenna

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