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Katrina- A Man Made Disaster

For the record, Wizbang has been all over this since before the breaches in the floodwalls were even closed. It was obvious to anyone with any knowledge of the situation, we just had to wait for confirmation. Again, the local media is all over this but the big media is strangely silent.

Evidence points to man-made disaster
Human mistakes led to N.O. levee breaches
By John McQuaid, Bob Marshall and Mark Schleifstein

As investigators and residents have picked through the battered New Orleans levee system's breaches, churned-up soil and bent sheet pile in the 100 days since Hurricane Katrina struck, they have uncovered mounting evidence that human error played a major role in the flood that devastated the city.

Floodwall breaches linked to design flaws inundated parts of the city that otherwise would have stayed dry, turning neighborhoods into death traps and causing massive damage. In other areas, poorly engineered gaps and erosion of weak construction materials accelerated and deepened flooding already under way, hampering rescue efforts in the wake of the storm.

These problems turned an already deadly disaster into a wider man-made catastrophe and have made rebuilding and resettlement into far tougher and more expensive challenges.

That's the picture that emerges from investigations of the levee system by teams sponsored by the state government, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Science Foundation, as well as from dozens of interviews with local residents, officials and engineers.

Experts say the New Orleans flood of 2005 should join the space shuttle explosions and the sinking of the Titanic on history's list of ill-fated disasters attributable to human mistakes.

In effect, the New Orleans flood of 2005 was not a hurricane, it was a dam burst.

Just days after Katrina, rain in New Hampshire threated to burst dams killing thousands of people. (Who would be dumb enough to live in New Hampshire where they have to use dams to keep them from flooding? Why don't those people move? ;-)

Let's compare the two. Imagine the dams in NH were designed and built so the water could raise up 14 feet higher than normal levels. Now imagine that when the water rose only 7 feet that multiple dams crumbled, flooding thousands of houses and killing hundreds of people. Then imagine that investigators found that the dams' designers didn't take into account the soft soil under the dams and that the steel reinforcements in the concrete that should have been 3.5 inches think were only 1 inch thick.

That's near exactly what happened in New Orleans. The main difference of course being that the people of New Hampshire get their water from rain and we are worried about storm surge. (BTW The good citizens of New Hampshire live below "sea level" too. Think about it.)

Just as thousands of municipalities are protected by traditional dams we are (were) protected by long, short dams we call levees. The dams broke in multiple places and far below where they were designed to break.

Eventually I guess (hope) the rest of the world will figure all this out. And I hope they do it soon, I'm getting tired of beating the same drum.

It is totally bizarre that the media, which loves to assign blame for everything, is ignoring this. If my above example in New Hampshire had happened, the media would be all over it. (Heck, Dateline NBC would be putting explosives on dams to recreate it!) They are ignoing one of the biggest stories of thier lives but I see 3 stories a day about Michael Brown and FEMA. They're still stuck on stupid.

Update: James Joyner (uncharacteristically) selectively cuts parts of the story to support a completely incorrect conclusion. I understand he does not live here and obviously he has not been following it, but he's on the wrong levee breaks. -- It can be confusing.

In as few words as possible to understand the flooding you have to separate the multiple breaks geographically. I first did this over 2 months ago on October 3rd.

...The levee break on the Industrial Canal is somewhat more understandable. They say the water was far higher than the levee. Taking that at face value, the coastal erosion in the area south of the levee has been dramatic for the last few decades. The levee is considerably closer to the Gulf of Mexico than when it was designed. If the storm surge was higher than it was designed for, that is not necessarily indication of a design flaw but perhaps and indication of the changing parameters of the area.

The other two areas, (17th street and London Ave) which are getting considerably more scrutiny, are on Lake Pontchartrain. These have floodwalls which are made of sheet pilings driven into the ground and concrete poured over them..

The breaks on the Industrial Canal flooded the lower 9th ward and Chalmette a suburb to the southeast of New Orleans proper. Simply put, mother nature beat us fair and square on that one. (1) If that were the only breaks, it would still have been a horrific event but not 1/4 of what really happened.

The breaks I've been focusing on -and the ones I took pictures of months ago- were the breaks at the 17th street and London Ave canals. Specifically the 17th street breach. It was the 17th street canal breach that sunk New Orleans. -- In fairness to James, the newspaper was not as clear in this article as it should have been. It jumbled multiple breaks with multiple causes into one story and was not clear which was which. If you've been obsessing over it studied it like I have, you know what they are talking about.

The key point James missed is that the floodwalls on the 17th canal and London Ave were "state of the art" floodwalls built in the late 1990s, less than 10 years ago.

At some point I hope to make a map and explain the whole thing. It can be confusing.

Update 2: James replies in a most bizarre fashion. Rather than discuss that fact that the flooding was man made, James replies with a strawman that since not every penny spent by the Corps in Louisiana went to flood control that it was the fault of the people of Louisiana. -- The Corps you see only, made it worse in James' view.

OK he's entitled to his opinion, I think his opinion would be different if he studied it but ok. But I just can't get over 2 things he said that are just odd.

The governor and the mayor failed to get the city evacuated in time and actually encouraged people who had evacuated to come back just in time to be trapped by the surging floodwaters.
Em mine.

Now, I've followed this story a little more than most people and I have no idea what he is talking about. I never remember a story about people retuning home only to be "trapped by the surging floodwaters."

I assume he was talking about when Rita was coming ashore and some people returned and others didn't. Yes, there was some confusion and people tried to come home only to have another storm bearing down on the area... It was bad timing. But I don't recall anyone being "trapped by the surging floodwaters."

Rita only flooded the lower 9th and it was empty by then.

I asked him for a link. At this point, I believe that to be fiction.

Ultimately, it is those decisions that are most blameworthy because we can only speculate as to whether better-built levees would have saved those lives but we know that people who evacuated the city for higher ground escaped the disaster.
EM his.

That is simply not true in any way, shape, manner or form. The water never topped the floodwalls. If they had been built better New Orleans would not have flooded. (with exceptions noted above.)

It is not SPECULATION that better built levees would have saved lives and property it is a demonstrable fact. I know he is not an engineer but it doesn't take one to know that if the floodwalls simply held the water they were designed to hold everything would have been fine. No speculation required on that one.

I really think James needs to follow the story more closely if he is going to make statements like this.

(1) It can be argued that the breaches in the Industrial Canal were man made too because we made the MRO. That point can be taken but that was by design. We built the MRGO on purpose. The floodwalls breached because of negligence.


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Comments (36)

Mistakes made years before ... (Below threshold)

Mistakes made years before Bush became responsible for everything wrong in the world are of no interest to the MSM these days.

See also:Teton Dam... (Below threshold)

See also:

Teton Dam collapse
Vaiont Dam flood
Johnstown Flood
Buffalo Creek Flood
St. Francis Dam
Kelly Barnes Dam

...and others.

Pay particular attention to the St. Francis dam collapse.

Hard to admit that the pers... (Below threshold)
Rick:

Hard to admit that the person(party) one has worked so hard to elect is responsible for so much carnage. It is much easier, and more fun to blame the opposition.

Rick,What oppositi... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Rick,

What opposition are you referring to? Paul is talking about poor construction and design, most of it done by the Army Corps of Engineers. So who or what is the opposition being blamed?

Seriously, seriously...<br ... (Below threshold)
seriously!:

Seriously, seriously...
Dont build you home on a flood plain. Seriously. Your asking for it. Seriously.

Like a slut. Seriously.

I don't blame the problem o... (Below threshold)
jp2:

I don't blame the problem of flooding on Bush - after all, didn't a couple of Presidents reduce funding and ignore warnings? (Even Clinton, who adores N.O) I don't think it's a credible argument.

What I find fault with was the response and the appointments. That's something clear-cut. It's inexcusable to be a week late with rescue efforts.

It's inexcusable to be a... (Below threshold)

It's inexcusable to be a week late with rescue efforts.

So, you wanted them there four days before the hurricane?

The reason this won't make ... (Below threshold)
Eno:

The reason this won't make the news is that if the dams were improperly designed or constructed prior to the Bush election, then he can't be blamed for the trouble. Look at the ignorant comment by Rick in this thread. They've got to blame Bush, even if many of the horror stories after the flood have been proven false.
jP2 makes a similar mistake. During the first few days after the storm hit a record number of peopel were rescued from rooftops. The response was amazingly rapid and effective. The Mayor's plan was to have the population wait out the storm in the Superdome which could be cut off from the outside by flooding. This incredible ignorance from an elected official made subsequent efforts nearly impossible.

Oh, I'm sorry Rick, there's those damn facts again! I mean to say BUSH LIED, BUSH LIED!!!

Don't forget, NO was full o... (Below threshold)

Don't forget, NO was full of dark people, where NH is just teeming with the melanine impaired.
And then there is the ratio of welfare recipients...
But if we discuss these angles to the non-reporting story, we'd be racists.

When you compare the great ... (Below threshold)
wks:

When you compare the great public works projects of the past; i.e., the Panama Canal, with the constant stream of screwups we see today (the Big Dig in Boston leaks, Amtrak, etc.) I think something very wrong has gone wrong with our public/civic morality that makes it impossible for us to trust anything being done correctly without inspectors checking on the inspectors that are monitoring the inspectors.

Maybe the reason the mainst... (Below threshold)
trunorth:

Maybe the reason the mainstream media is not picking up on this is: Black Mayor, Female Gov. (both Democrates) .

When you compare the gre... (Below threshold)

When you compare the great public works projects of the past; i.e., the Panama Canal, with the constant stream of screwups we see today (the Big Dig in Boston leaks, Amtrak, etc.)

...you notice that we're doing much, much better, overall.

22,000 dead in the (failed) French Panama Canal attempt, and another 5,609 during the American success (which took 10 years).

Dams? Up until the second part of the 20th century, you were really taking a risk living downstream from most dams. For an equivalent, look at the events in China over the last couple of decades (they lose major dams at a depressingly high rate).

Bridges? "Galloping Gertie," among many others.

Levees? Literally hundreds of breaks, through the last century or so, nationwide.

Those are part of the reason things like the Big Dig take four times as long to finish.

"The response was amazingly... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"The response was amazingly rapid and effective."

An interesting and funny re-write. You are certainly in the minority of people who thought the Feds did a good job, but that's okay. I'm sure you thought Bush was 10/10 on the performance. (not the guitar and cake-eating performance)

But if it was such a success, I wonder why Brownie lost his job? Must have been too effective.

To those who are attempting... (Below threshold)
JD:

To those who are attempting to foist blame on the feds: STFU. Y'all don't know what you're talking about, and I'm getting sick and tired of your politically-motivated bullcrap.

I went to Gulfport. I saw what happened there. I smelled the smell. I saw the conditions on the only passable approach road (US-49) at the time. I saw literally hundreds of cords of wood littering the side of the highway going all the way back to Hattiesburg (a distance of 60 miles) through the DeSoto Forest. MDOT crews were still cutting up and removing trees out to 1-1/2 weeks after the storm.

When we got to my mother's house, we had to cut up a three-foot tree just to get in the driveway. Aid agencies who had (logically) staged at Hattiesburg had to plod along 50 MILES of road with downed trees. I saw this, fed critics. Did you?

Were mistakes made? You betcha. But did anyone expect the failure of I-10 in both directions from NOLA, combined with damage to the LPC and the destruction of the US 90 bridge to Waveland? Add on top of that the flooding of Armstrong Airport? Now take that information, and go look at a map. How the hell else do you get major trucks and equipment into NOLA? Swampboats? Submarines?

The story of Katrina was the Failure of Information. No one knew what the hell was going on, because the means of distributing information was completely FUBAR. That includes media, that includes public safety, that includes State and Local and Federal and Parish and City agencies. It revealed our dependence on, and our weakness for, cellular telephony.

But instead of pointing to obvious solutions, like independent underground power sourcing for RF communication facilities with backup transmission facilties, y'all would rather try to BLAME BUSH! for all the problems in the world.

As a relative of someone in Gulfport, who no longer lives there because of what she and her husband saw, I can only say: S. T. F. U. If you're not part of the solution now, you're part of the problem.

This isn't a republican or ... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

This isn't a republican or democratic issue. This was a disaster that was caused by neglience. As to the national response (not post hurricane but in helping the city aftr the evacuations), I have decided that it is fought at all corners because the face of this disaster is that of an inner city black. All of those with their great ideals who have never even talked to a person of color don't like what they are seeing. Well, guess what? New Orleans is made up of every color. We have white and black, old. young, rich and poor And you know what? People get along just fine. We are easy going in our acceptance. We all belong to the city and love it. It is not a forced PC kind of thing, it is just the way it has always been. Did you see Mama D's testimony in front of Congress. I read something on the nola boards that made me laugh out loud. An evacuee in Houston posted that he told his wife in surprise "Oh my God! It's the crazy lady from the school board meetings!" We kind of cherish our characters. We enjoy them and they like a place that allows them to be themselves. It is one of the things I love about New Orleans. I am not a hippy dippy person. I have worked very hard for everything I have ever accomplished in my life, but I have seen an ugliness in the response to this disaster that is just illogical to the America I thougtht existed. It has got to come from somewhere very deep in the psyche of this country. I am beginning to think it may just be race. Ok, discuss.

Um, you have a feeli... (Below threshold)

Um, you have a feeling that it just may be race, and we have to discuss it?

Interesting:"To th... (Below threshold)
jp2:

Interesting:

"To those who are attempting to foist blame on the feds: STFU"

First of all, no.

Secondly, you ignore your own advice:
"The story of Katrina was the Failure of Information. No one knew what the hell was going on, because the means of distributing information was completely FUBAR. That includes media, that includes public safety, that includes State and Local and Federal and Parish and City agencies."

You are placing blame on everyone. I am too. Blanco and Nagin won't be back, and probably for good reason. However, I don't pay taxes in LA - but I do give quite a bit to the DHS, who holds primary responsiblity for natural disasters. (according to their website) So no, I won't STFU. I paid Brown's salary and I'm pissed about it. Instead of paying money in taxes to prevent the disaster/help the people affected by it, I'm donating as well.

And while I certainly empathize with your situation, having friends and family in Gulfport doesn't make you an expert on emergency management. I have friends and family there too, but I'm not going to tell anyone to "STFU." Get real.

The Feds while not blameles... (Below threshold)
cubanbob:

The Feds while not blameless are the responsible party for the Katrina in Mississippi and Alabama.
There are such things as local building codes. One would think that living in an area where hurricanes are hardly rare occurrences one might think that buildings built in the Gulf coast would be designed for higher wind loads and in flood zones built up above the normal flood heights.
Living in Florida that has been hit by eight hurricanes and three tropical storms in the last two years we have learned a bit since Andrew. there is still a lot more for the local idiots in government to do but were getting there.
New Orleans was a dam burst. no more, no less. being that this happened in Louisiana, was the dam failure caused by incompetence, bad engineering or corruption? Had the levys not burst, not much damage would have been done to New Orleans.
Moral of the story, if you live in a hurricane zone, and you have any kind of money, bring your home up to code. keep your cars fully fuelled, get a generator and keep two weeks supply of water and canned foods and other essentials. And don't forget to keep a couple of charged cell phone batteries. Unless your home is literaly on the ocean or on an open expanse of a wide bay, you will most likely be ok, and if you can afford such a home you can afford to get the hell out of Dodge.

As investigators and res... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

As investigators and residents have picked through the battered New Orleans levee system's breaches, churned-up soil and bent sheet pile in the 100 days since Hurricane Katrina struck, they have uncovered mounting evidence that human error played a major role in the flood that devastated the city.

You mean they haven't found the remnants of the bomb yet?

j/k.

You know gang what happened... (Below threshold)
vachatterus:

You know gang what happened is past. The only thing to do is act now for the future. All of this babble seems to be people with too much time on their hands. Get out and do something positive.

VAChatter, This... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

VAChatter,
This is not the past for those of us that are living it. This is our reality. We are also doing positive things.. Right now there is a grass roots campaign, led by WWL radio (home station of Rush Limbaugh in N.O.), to flood Washington D.C. with e-mail to support protecting New Orleans and southern LA. For those that would like to help, here is the link:
http://www.demaction.org/dia/organizations/GRN/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=1521
Also some friends of mine are organizing a barbeque at the Convention Center in New Orleans to feed people giving emergency medical care to the city the Wednesday before Christmas. (Thanks! Red, White and Brew. They themselves had 80 trees downed on their property. Terrible but not near what New Orleans and the Gulf Coast experienced.) Also people are working hard to get the local levee boards made into one statewide organization. Also most of us are trying everything we can to keep this in the public eye. I know America just wants us to go away. It won't happen. We feel that the government agencies we pay taxes to (local, state, and federal) need to be kept accountable. When it does not work as it is suppose to, we raise our voices. Some people call it whining, I call it my duty as an American citizen.

jp2, you're still off base ... (Below threshold)

jp2, you're still off base and barking up the wrong tree. I won't say S.T.F.U. but I will say G. A D. C.: Get A Damn Clue.
I direct you to my own thoughts at the time of Rita, found here. Scroll down to Observations and Gripes. In particular, I direct your attention to items 1, 2, and 5.

I used to live in that state, I was born there, and I lived there for 25 of my 44 years before escaping. The incompetant Democrats running it are the #1 reason I have been a Republican since the day I registered to vote. (I really don't give much of a damn if they're somewhat corrupt, as long as it doesn't affect the public directly, but I won't tolerate incompetance.)


I haven't posted anything a... (Below threshold)

I haven't posted anything about this in over a week because I haven't seen anything new. It was quite clear on day one - Katrina Day - that the Industrial Canal quickly overtopped, as water level data was available, and I understand that some computer models indicate MRGO aggravated this condition. As I reported earlier, the Army's own drawings sufficiently document the design flaws of the 17th Street Canal.

However, there were construction flaws as well, and the levee boards appear to be deeply corrupt. I know that the Army can't really oversee everything contractors do. I don't doubt that a good paper redesign is in the works, but right now the main threat to rebuilding New Orleans appears to be continued - this time centralized - corruption of the local levee boards. Local business is all for "reform" because out-of-state businesses will be shut out from the big money available to prime contractors. Local officials are for it because the removal of out-of-state engineers and inspectors will mean that no one's career suffers. And local politicians are pushing it because proposed law implies that levee board officials will remain under their thumb even if voters kick the current crew out of office.

I doubt insurance companies will be fooled, so in addition to paying five times the required amount to properly rebuild the levees, the federal government will probably be asked to insure everything as well.

I see local incompetence and corruption as the main current threats to NOLA's recovery, not engineering incompetence. Don't let the girl divert your eyes from what the magician's hand is doing!

"The incompetant Democrats ... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"The incompetant Democrats running it are the #1 reason I have been a Republican since the day I registered to vote."

Taking your advice on getting a clue, you should know that in the last 25 years, half have been with a Republican Governer. Currently, the mayor of NO is a Republican (a DINO) as are 5/7 members of Congress. So, while plenty of retribution needs to be focused on Democrats to fix the problem, most of the current representitives are Republicans. I know you don't want to hear it, but I have to correct you when wrong.

And I certainly agree with you on the disaster front. It's an extremely difficult situation to evacuate and take care of so many people. But I expected much better use of my tax dollars, as do a vast majority of the American people. It's nice to see accountability with Brown being fired - at least some degree of responsibility on the part of the administration. I don't accept incompetence either - that's why this has been so frustrating. Chertoff, Blanco, Nagin, Bush, Cheney - they all should go. And if you think their performances are competent, sorry, but you a partisan fool.

Currently, the mayor of ... (Below threshold)

Currently, the mayor of NO is a Republican (a DINO)

More precisely, he is a Democrat who switched from Republican just to win election (a FRINO-DINO).

Idiot, NH isn't below sea l... (Below threshold)
T. Monty:

Idiot, NH isn't below sea level.

Thank you T. Monty for show... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Thank you T. Monty for showing how utterly stupid the "it's below sea-level" folks are.

>I know that the Army can't... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>I know that the Army can't really oversee everything contractors do.

You get about 95% of what you say right... This is dead freaking wrong.

The Corps is responsible for everything... If not doing it then approving it and signing off on it.

Eustis Engineering (a local company) warned them many times they were screwing up and the Corps ignored them.

>I doubt insurance companies will be fooled, so in addition to paying five times the required amount to properly rebuild the levees, the federal government will probably be asked to insure everything as well.

OK Make that 90%

The Feds already write flood insurance. Always have.

>I see local incompetence and corruption as the main current threats to NOLA's recovery, not engineering incompetence

Corruption is irrelevant is nobody rebuilds. The whole city is in limbo figuring out what is happening with the levees. -- Trust me, I hear it everyday. The levees are what everyone is waiting on.

N.O. may not be below sea l... (Below threshold)
-S-:

N.O. may not be below sea level NOW but it's soon to be, based upon the geography and the consistently, gradually increasing build-up of river plateau at the mouth/base of the Mississippi. It's affecting the entire flood plain, not just the area where N.O. currently is. And, it seems to be predicted based upon sound geographical projections for the area.

Areas of the city ARE beneath sea level but all of it will be eventually...sooner than later, is the point. The rest is at sea level which, when considering the fact that N.O. is surrounded by substantial bodies of water and one of those the Mississippi River that includes a great deal of force to the water behaviors in the Delta, places the region -- not only, as in, just N.O. -- at flooding risk if not flooding eventuality. If all you have is a six/ten/twelve foot wall between you and all that water, the water will inevitably win sooner than later.

It's the nature of a flood plain: it's going to flood sooner than later and then do it again and again in intervals. I still don't get what the problem is of just relocating some miles inland or else building a houseboat to replace a foundation-based structure.

>when considering the fact ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>when considering the fact that N.O. is surrounded by substantial bodies of water...

Susie my dear drug abusing friend. You LIVED IN HAWAII

now shut the fuck up. ;-)

Finally! An strong ally fo... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Finally! An strong ally for New Orleans that is not from Louisiana. Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska. Federal negligence = Federal responsibility
http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-2/113419788186760.xml&coll=1

So many issues, so little t... (Below threshold)
Kathy K:

So many issues, so little time.

I am a Southwest Louisiana resident. I too am very concerned about how New Orleans will be rebuilt. Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular have been run far too long by persons with only their personal interests at heart. Unless we commit ourselves to allowing decisions to be made that might even mean we have to give something up ourselves personally, the rebuild will be as great a boondogle as the "evacuation." Whoever is put in charge will need the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and underwear made of asbestos.

Dear Wizbang,Thank y... (Below threshold)
brainrescue:

Dear Wizbang,
Thank you for breaking out the technical details. It has helped a great deal in clarifying what broke, where it broke and the theories as to why it broke.

One point of contention. You chose to ignore one of James Joyner's assertions -- that a proper and complete evacuation to high ground would have saved many lives.

Wizbang, please let me know if you are contesting this. (This is really just a sanity check regarding what you are asserting)

And for those with a political axe to grind, the responsibility for evactuation rests with the state and local gov. not the feds.

Be aware that this does not remove the feds from their responsibility. Who questions that the feds could have done a better job? (another sanity check for the politically over-heatead)

Thanks again Wizbang

One point of contention.... (Below threshold)
Paul:

One point of contention. You chose to ignore one of James Joyner's assertions -- that a proper and complete evacuation to high ground would have saved many lives.

Wizbang, please let me know if you are contesting this. (This is really just a sanity check regarding what you are asserting)

Duh! Obviously this is true... But waving a magic fairy wand and making the hurricane disappear would have saved lives too.... The problem is neither is a possibility in this thing called reality.. The Katrina evacuation was (like it or not) a phenomenal success. [Seen one better?]

But James swerves dramatically from the point.

The point is that this was a man made disaster. James answers by saying "Well the evacuation should have been better."

OK how exactly were we going to evacuate the billions of dollars of property that got destroyed? Even if every living soul left, the city still got destroyed by the negligence of the Corps of Engineers.

It's still a man made disaster.

James changing the subject can't change that!

Sure the busses could have been used and the evacuation could have been better. But as someone who have lived thru 3 evacuations in 4 years, this was the cleanest of any. Arguing that it doesn't matter if New orleans was flooded by an act of man because perfection was not achieved it the evacuation is -frankly- asinine.

>I know that the Army ca... (Below threshold)

>I know that the Army can't really oversee everything contractors do.

You get about 95% of what you say right... This is dead freaking wrong.

No. I worked as an student engineering assistant for the Army (but not the CoE) years ago and once participated in an inspection. Instead of progress, the project had actually moved backward.

As you say, "the Corps is responsible for everything... If not doing it then approving it and signing off on it." That doesn't mean they can really do it without the goodwill of the contractor and politicians who support them.

And it can be even worse: for one federal government engineering job I was offerred, I questioned my would-be boss closely until she finally admitted that I couldn't possibly succeed in my assignment! My true function was to be the "fall guy" so that the lawyers wouldn't be blamed!

One has to include but look beyond the contractural paper trail to the movements and duties of shifting personnel and office budgets to winkle such things out.

Corruption is irrelevant is nobody rebuilds.

Unh-uh. The levee boards are famous for spending money on projects and expenses other than the levees themselves. Occasionally such things are appropriate and desirable - like the reservoir in NYC's Central Park - but I haven't read good explanations for many of the side projects undertaken in the 1990s by the levee boards.

I guess that a great deal of money will be spent by them before rebuilding the levees even begins: a new HQ, furniture, "official" cars and meals, etc. There don't seem to be any real safeguards against such abuse, as I can't imagine the governor canning commissioners for such "minor" abuses as long as political loyalty is maintained.

Whoever is put in charge will need the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and underwear made of asbestos.

I'm flattered, but currently the Louisiana government is working hard to ensure that no outsiders are put in charge of any of the billions flowing in from outside the state. Besides, asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer. I hope no asbestos was used in the levees: the destruction of the levees would expose the fibers to the environment and render areas like playgrounds and ballparks hazardous. Someone should probably test for the stuff, if that hasn't been done already.

Katrina- A Man Made Disaste... (Below threshold)
PETN Sandwich:

Katrina- A Man Made Disaster

Simply put, had the floodwalls not been built there would have been no flooding of NOLA. Just like, had it not been for building the Titanic, no one would have drowned.


Update 2:
It is not SPECULATION that better built levees would have saved lives and property it is a demonstrable fact. I know he is not an engineer but it doesn't take one to know that if the floodwalls simply held the water they were designed to hold everything would have been fine. No speculation required on that one.


Oh, OK...

It's a "man-made disaster" because levees were built, but if they were built better it would not be... uh, it's not speculation...


A word of advice - go back to school, get a B.S. in Engineering, and maybe, just maybe, in eight years you will be MINIMALLY QUALIFIED to have a professional opinion in this matter.

Until then, keep blowing smoke.




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