SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



The bridge funding and how a hurricane impacts Ketchikan.
By Rick Grams


November 16, 2005

Who would've guessed a hurricane would have an impact on Ketchikan, Alaska. Our little community of Ketchikan is about to lose the opportunity of a lifetime due to a natural disaster that another group of communities had 30 years to prepare for. I am referring to the hurricane that destroyed large masses of swampland in Louisiana and Mississippi. As a person who grew up in those areas, I find it embarrassing that 30 years has passed during which time literally billions of dollars had been poured into the environmental infrastructure, and still Mother Nature took her toll. It should be one of the most humbling experiences America will face throughout this decade, if not the century.

Even more amazing to me, is how our Federal Government immediately singles out Ketchikan (and Alaska) as a community no longer worthy of investment monies. They want to pull the funding for the bridge and instead sink it back into the swamps so Mother Nature can come back again and wash it away. I want everyone to know, this is not an easy thing for me to say; yet the logic stares us right in the face. The very shores of Louisiana and Mississippi have been "carved" by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the natural forces of hurricanes. I support rebuilding the gulf coast of our country, but not at the expense of opportunity here in Ketchikan.

Alaska has only been a recognized state in this country for almost 50 years while Louisiana has been a state for 193 years and Mississippi has been a state for 188 years. During Alaska's 50 years as a state there has been a tremendous amount of catching up while still lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of economic growth. In Louisiana and Mississippi you can count on the gambling and tourism industry rebuilding their tools of commerce (of course they would rather the Federal government foot the bill). Also, Louisiana and Mississippi have a larger population base available for local taxing measures. In Ketchikan, what industry is going to invest their money here? How much more are we going to tax our own small population and those summer cruise visitors? That foreign cruise ship sitting in the water all summer helps, but it is not doing anything to build the infrastructure our local economy needs to generate long term opportunities. Meanwhile in New Orleans Donald Trump is looking to invest heavily for their rebuilding efforts (Donald Trump Eyes New Orleans Rebuilding - Forbes).

I do agree the Federal government should assist the states most impacted by the hurricanes this past year. However, I can also say that state and local governments in those areas need to be held accountable for their duties by the constituents. I can't tell you how many times I heard the news as a kid that if a category 4 or 5 storm hit New Orleans it would be underwater, and yet people continued to build!

What I do not agree with are the attempts to remove Ketchikan from the long awaited goal of creating a solid connection to its two closest land masses (initially identified in 1981). The media has done its part in making fun of Ketchikan, and some people who do not live here have supported those media articles. I'm not one of them. Instead, I wholeheartedly believe that Ketchikan is due the opportunity to expand and seek economic opportunities right now. The Federal government can do much better than what has been proposed, and it should!

Rick Grams
Ketchikan, AK - USA




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Ketchikan, Alaska