November 12th, 2008

BMC - juno

Lost and found

I continue to follow the story of the drowning and rebuilding of Oakville, although not with the same close eye I did back in August and September. I turned off my Google News alert awhile back; these days, I get most of the news from my dad.

There's still no clear idea of when people will be able to go back. Rebuilding efforts are hampered, at least in part, by the reality that there's no point in doing much until the levees along the Iowa River are rebuilt. It's not a simple repair job, either -- they've decided to strengthen the levees and move them further inland, at the cost of many months and millions of dollars. And now, there's a new wrinkle: archaeology.

Since the new permanent levee will be set back from the original levee alignment, federal law requires the Corps to make a cultural assessment of the site as an environmental study.

During the cultural assessment, officials found four archeological sites within the levee construction corridor, Fournier said.

"Due to the preliminary determination that the sites contain significant artifacts --1,000 years or older -- and the need to maintain the integrity of the sites, we do not release information about what they are or where they are," Fournier said.

This isn't really a surprise -- there are Native American burial mounds all around Oakville, so it stands to reason that there would be other sites unfound in the area. And it's kind of exciting to think about how much could still be discovered if they really set themselves to looking. But it's kind of rotten luck, too, for the people who lived there and wanted to go back. Yet another delay, and for how long? And I have a feeling that this is the aspect of the find the locals will focus on, not the importance of preserving our national cultural heritage. For their sake, I hope they can come to a decision soon, and find a way to re-route the levees if need be.
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