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  • New Orleans

    Further to a previous post on this subject that has become disjointed...the emanation of that subject was based on these sorts of perceptions:

    1) Pierce Lewis, perhaps its most knowledgeable scholar of New Orleans, describes New Orleans as the "inevitable city on an impossible site."

    2) These geographical facts were as obvious to seventeenth century French explorers as they were to Thomas Jefferson, who said of New Orleans: "There is one spot on the globe, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans - "Thomas Jefferson"

  • #2
    Engineers had warned of a looming disaster

    For years, engineers up and down the Mississippi River have talked about the disaster that would result if New Orleans' bulwark of levees and flood walls were hit by a hurricane like Katrina. But when it was time to find money to strengthen them, the city's defenses ended up far down the federal government's priority list.

    David Keifer, right, leads his sister Molly and son, William Schultz, through flooded streets Wednesday in New Orleans.
    By Dave Martin, AP

    Now, with 80% of the city submerged by water pouring through three breaches in its protections, dealing with the consequences is proving far more difficult than anyone anticipated. The flooding is worse, and the rehearsed responses aren't working.

    "This is horrible, terrible and devastating," says Claude Strauser, who retired in January from the Army Corps of Engineers. "But everybody knew it was vulnerable."

    Joe Suhayda, an oceanographer and retired engineering professor at Louisiana State University, says the weakness was "an acknowledged, likely scenario that was not dealt with in the sense that (officials) solved the problem."

    Suhayda helped with an emergency response exercise last year in which computer models showed that the levees and flood walls guarding the city would be overwhelmed by even a Category 3 hurricane they were designed to withstand. That exercise, run by local, state and federal officials in New Orleans, showed a fictitious Hurricane Pam with winds up to 130 mph leaving a path of destruction eerily similar to Katrina's — a million people evacuated and needing shelter for months, thousands awaiting rescue, up to 600,000 buildings destroyed.

    But there was no anticipating the problems officials face in repairing the damage inflicted on the city's flood controls when Katrina rolled in Monday as a Category 4 storm with winds over 140 mph.

    "The circumstances, the personnel, the weather conditions, the size, the location — these are all factors that make the real world more complicated than your planning," Suhayda says.

    Wednesday night, engineers still were grappling with how to close breaches in flood barriers along two drainage canals and a massive navigational canal that cut through New Orleans. The city sits largely below sea level in a bowl bounded by the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. And it relies on the canals and a network of pumping stations to keep it from filling with water.

    The repair job got a bit easier earlier in the day when Lake Pontchartrain reached the same level as the flood water inside the levees. That stopped the rushing flow that had posed additional problems for repair crews. Water also was gradually receding from the lake through its normal drainage channel to the Gulf.

    The Corps announced plans to bring in heavy-duty military helicopters to drop giant sandbags into the holes. Once enough water can be pumped out, trucks full of rock will be brought in to reinforce the repairs. No one knows how well the pumps will work, however.

    The pumps are elevated to protect them from flood waters, but a Corps statement warned that there could be "unforeseen problems." Even if all goes well, spokeswoman Susan Jackson says, it could take "weeks to months" to completely drain the city, parts of which are under as much as 20 feet of water.

    The damage came after water began spilling over the flood walls and levees, eating at their foundations until large sections collapsed.

    Studies and reports have long raised concerns that the city's levees and flood walls are insufficient. They require maintenance and upgrades because they sink into the marshy land below. Some flood walls are as much as 2 feet below the 16-17 feet above sea level that they're supposed to reach to protect against a Category 3 storm — let alone a more powerful one like Katrina.

    "It has been known for a long time that New Orleans was not adequately protected from the worst storms," says Paul Kemp, an oceanographer at LSU's Hurricane Center.

    The catch in strengthening defenses is the cost.

    The price of raising a levee climbs enormously with each additional foot, says Max Spindler, a water resources engineer at the University of Texas, Arlington. Adding height means adding width and taking up more land, he adds, so there's an "almost exponential" rise in costs.

    The Corps has the lead role in most of the construction and maintenance of flood controls, working with local and state agencies. Every year, the Corps spends tens of millions of dollars repairing and upgrading flood walls, levees and pump stations, setting priorities for which jobs it tackles. But Congress hasn't given the Corps the money it says it needs to make the upgrades needed to protect New Orleans from the most serious storms.

    Protecting the city from Category 4 and 5 hurricanes "would cost, at a minimum, many, many hundreds of millions of dollars — and likely a lot more than that," says Corps spokesman John Hall. "We're talking about a tremendous effort at enormous expense at a time when the nation is strapped."
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    • #3
      Why do I keep getting this image in my head of the guy spinning a bunch of plates on the top of poles? He runs from plate to plate to give it a good spin before it slows and falls to the stage floor.

      I have the uneasy feeling that there are a lot of "priorities" we have as a nation, and as human beings, and we are desperately trying to keep the plates spinning. Add too many spinning plates, trip on your way from one to the next, or the lights go out for a second, and the plates start to fall.

      We have far less control over what happens in this world than we would like to believe. It helps to think that we control what happens because it gives us a sense of security. Psychologically, it is difficult to accept that we have so little control, but it can also be liberating and empowering.

      Moon

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      • #4
        STFU









        Life is difficult.
        This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
        Author: M. Scott Peck
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        • #5
          Originally posted by lazydaze@Sep 1 2005, 08:07 AM
          Protecting the city from Category 4 and 5 hurricanes "would cost, at a minimum, many, many hundreds of millions of dollars — and likely a lot more than that," says Corps spokesman John Hall. "We're talking about a tremendous effort at enormous expense at a time when the nation is strapped."
          Seems to me that an investment of "many hundreds of millions of dollars" would have been worth it to prevent the many billions of dollars this is going to cost us.

          And the nation isn't strapped. With Bush and co in office, there's no such thing as a budget....so how can we be short on money?
          If we cut our "efforts" in Iraq short by 2 weeks we'd save enough money to pay for the damn flood walls.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Moon Man@Sep 1 2005, 08:15 AM
            Why do I keep getting this image in my head of the guy spinning a bunch of plates on the top of poles? He runs from plate to plate to give it a good spin before it slows and falls to the stage floor.

            I have the uneasy feeling that there are a lot of "priorities" we have as a nation, and as human beings, and we are desperately trying to keep the plates spinning. Add too many spinning plates, trip on your way from one to the next, or the lights go out for a second, and the plates start to fall.

            We have far less control over what happens in this world than we would like to believe. It helps to think that we control what happens because it gives us a sense of security. Psychologically, it is difficult to accept that we have so little control, but it can also be liberating and empowering.

            Moon
            I agree.
            Sometimes elections have positive consequences!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by lazydaze@Sep 1 2005, 07:19 AM
              Life is difficult.
              This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult--once we truly understand and accept it--then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
              Author: M. Scott Peck
              Peck stole that from Buddha.
              His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
              Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

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              • #8
                Where's Reggie?
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