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This is in response to “Big Easy needs scenic canals, not levees” (Opinion, James S. Russell, Sept. 8), regarding New Orleans and the levees.

In the first few lines, Russell comments that New Orleans still can’t handle “everyday floods.” He goes on further to say (correctly) that if you take a wrong turn down a street during a downpour you’ll find your car stalled in “several feet” of water.

As a former student at Tulane University where my orienteer commented about rainstorms, “It’s not so much about which puddles you can avoid, but which you can swim through,” I understand the sentiment. Russell’s conclusions, however, are based on pure ignorance of the situation that New Orleans finds itself in. Much of the city is below sea level: This was proven by the failure of the levee system and the flooding of 80 percent of the city.

He makes further mistakes, confusing the objective of the levee system in New Orleans. The levee system is not to prevent flooding during downpours, it is to keep the city safe from dangerous storm surges and flooding from the Mississippi River. The Dutch, whom Russell uses as the epitome of “communing with the water,” have no experience dealing with hurricanes. No 28-foot storm surge is going to affect them. If the rivers there threaten floods, they have a vast system to shunt that flow into their multitude of canals. New Orleans only has the Bonnet Carré spillway, which diverts some of the flow from the Mississippi into Lake Pontchartrain.

The Dutch have no experience in the subtropical environment of New Orleans: Weather systems that will dump inches of water in an afternoon in a repetitive cycle (sometimes several days in a row) simply do not occur in Europe. The waters simply have nowhere else to go. Sewer drains fill too rapidly from the rain — and because New Orleans is below sea level — the water is not forced to go anywhere.

The more correct answer would be to have smaller pumps in all of the sewer systems, but that would be problematic due to all of the plant, animal and other matter that gets swept into the sewer, not to mention the cost of such an undertaking.

Spc. James C. Oliver

Camp Victory, Iraq

Doesn’t fit with a loving God

With regard to the Aug. 25 column “Chaplains in no-win situation on ‘don’t ask’ ”: The author notes that homosexuality is a “willed sexual behavior,” meaning it’s a choice.

I find this theory to be illegitimate based on religious philosophy. The being referred to as “God” is omniscient and omnipresent. This means that God is all-knowing and all-pervading or existing at all times (past, present and future), as understood by a human being’s limited understanding of time and space. As such, God, despite the argument of free will, knows how you will live your life even before you’re born. This means that he knows which people are going to choose to be homosexual before they’re conceived.

Thus, God also knows which people will be “unrepentant homosexuals.” If homosexuality is a sin, then God is allowing these people to be born solely to condemn them to hell. This type of behavior doesn’t seem to fit the profile of a loving God and is unworthy of worship. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting God. This is open to amateur and professional theologians. Please enlighten me.

Staff Sgt. Eric McMellon

Forward Operating Base Altimur, Afghanistan


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