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Corps Starting to Admit Responsibilty For Flooding New Orleans

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is FINALLY starting -starting- to admit they flooded New Orleans. Of course you long time Wizbang readers have known this for almost 6 months. The last gasp of the Corps was expired by their own engineering manual.

Overtopping claim won't hold water, experts say
Floodwall standards set in corps manual

Engineer Manual No. 1110-2-2502 is not a publication that would normally excite interest from the general population. But in the weeks and months ahead, as New Orleans struggles to rebuild from the floods of Hurricane Katrina, Section 4 of that Army Corps of Engineers book could be scrutinized intensely by city and state officials.

The manual sets the performance standards for, among other things, inland floodwalls: the kind the corps built along the city's drainage canals and that failed spectacularly during Katrina, flooding much of the city and leading to many of the 1,100 deaths thus far confirmed from the storm.

Section 4b of the manual reads: "Case I2, Water to the Top of the Wall. This is the same as Case I1 (design flood loading) except the water level is at the top of the unprotected side of the wall."

Forensic engineers investigating the levee failures say the layman's translation of that section amounts to a "gotcha" clause for those who believe the walls failed through faulty design and not because they were overwhelmed by a storm that exceeded design limits.

"It says what every engineer knows: If you build walls to 14 feet, regardless of the design specifications for the expected storm -- 12 feet or 10 feet or 13 feet -- those walls must hold water to their tops," said J. David Rogers, a forensic engineer on the National Science Foundation team investigating the failures.

"That's a basic rule in engineering, whether you're building dams or floodwalls. And those floodwalls were 14 feet in New Orleans, and all the evidence says they weren't overtopped.

"So, yeah, this was a human failure, not a natural disaster."

The Corps has tried lately to wiggle out of taking responsibility by claiming the walls were only designed to hold 12.5 feet of water. Every indication we have is that the walls failed before that level anyway but at least when the lawsuit gets argued they would have something that stand on. Their own manual takes that defense away.

Since overtopping has been ruled out as the cause of failure along some canal walls, experts in and out of the corps have debated whether the water inside the failed floodwalls was higher than the 12.5 feet maximum listed as the design capacity. But Rogers and other engineers said Section 4b makes that discussion moot. Because the walls were built to 14 feet, to account for wave splash, any collapse below that level means the design failed.

"Their own manual makes it pretty clear this was a failure, " Rogers said, "although they might try to argue it was something else."

Walter Baumy, chief of the engineering division at the corps' New Orleans District, agreed with the interpretation. " 'Water to the top of the wall' means it has to hold if the water gets that high," he said.

At least someone at the Corps is awake. But what does this mean to you dear taxpayer?

But the debate continues, because the stakes are high. If the walls yielded to forces lower than their design specifications, the city will be on firmer moral and legal footing in asking Congress to pay for the all the property damaged and destroyed when the waters of Lake Pontchartrain poured into the city. If not, the government can say the cost should be borne by flood insurance and homeowners.

We are talking hundreds of billions of dollars. Although some in the Corps are still living in fantasy land...

... And the corps commander, Brig. Gen. Carl Strock, said his agency believes Katrina was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall at Buras, and was a Category 5 when it was building storm surge in the Gulf that later fell on Louisiana. Corps officials say that the floodwalls and hurricane levees were designed to withstand the equivalent of "a fast-moving Category 3 storm."

Gen. Strock has been smoking hemp. Katrina was a Cat 3 when she hit land and a Cat 1 in New Orleans. But even if he were correct, it is irrelevant. If you build floodwalls 14 feet high they must hold 14 feet of water.

The Corps was actively trying to spin the levee breaks during the storm and still haven't given up completely. I called them on their name games 5 months ago. (despite the idiot commenters)

The end game is drawing near. For all the Feds claims of sending Billions to New Orleans, they have sent 5 times as much money to Mississippi as New Orleans (per capita) even thought he need in New Orleans is exponentially higher and the Feds didn't flood Mississippi. They barely approved getting REAL Cat 3 levees (which we thought we had) and still have not approved Cat 5.

Further, the money they have spent, they (the Feds not LA ) have managed so poorly, there are likely to be criminal investigations. (more on this soon)

Patience is wearing thin in New Orleans and I personally can't see the class action lawsuit holding off much longer. The Feds have spent over 20 billion dollars and there is still garbage on every street. Certainly for 20 BILLION they could get the debris picked up.

The Feds are dropping the ball big time. If they argree to things like the Baker Plan they can avoid the pain and suffering damamges that will be added to a lawsuit. But so far they look determined to do this the hard way.

If I were a taxpayer in another state, I'd be concerned, very concerned.


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Comments (36)

"The Feds have spent over 2... (Below threshold)
J:

"The Feds have spent over 20 billion dollars and there is still garbage on every street. Certainly for 20 BILLION they could get the debris picked up."

I don't know.....why not round up the townspeople and come together to clean up the city? Just a thought.

At this point I think the Corps of engineers will be watched a little more closely...

>I don't know.....why not r... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>I don't know.....why not round up the townspeople and come together to clean up the city? Just a thought.

Ummm... Maybe because it is over 100 MILLION TONS of debris? This isn't rake and broom stuff... Think the twin towers debris multipled by about 200.

Did anyone tell the citizens of New York to pick up the twin towers by themselves or did they use heavy equipment?

Geeze

You didn't know before. Now you do.

The WTC debris was nearly 2... (Below threshold)

The WTC debris was nearly 2 million tons, and it took the four companies involved in removing the debris and stabilizing the site 8 months and 17 days to do so. The last truckload of debris from the WTC site was loaded May 28, 2002.

A big reason for the slow pace of the debris removal was the raging fire that continued for nearly 3 months and the ongoing search for remains - which isn't necessarily a problem in New Orleans case.

You're right that the scale of the destruction in Louisiana is massive, but the NYC debris removal wasn't swift by any measure. And there are lawsuits expected over EPA claims that the air was safe to breathe when it may not have been (and I regularly walked through the area in the months after the attacks).

While the Baker Plan is int... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

While the Baker Plan is interesting and could easily work, the comments of some of the politicians is problematic. I can easily see a situation where there is disagreement over property values or amounts of settlements. As with anything, once politicians become involved, things can get muddled up quickly.

As I see it, the problem is not with rebuilding in the Gulf Coast. It is with rebuilding after the next hurricane and the next one after that. Hurricanes and other natural disasters aren't going away. Yes, the argument can be made that the circumstances surrounding the flooding of New Orleans makes the situation unique. However, no one ever got rich by assuming that the average American can think rationally when there is money involved. We are talking about free money here. We aren't tlking loans; we are talking grants. That's money going out that will never come back.

This type of bailout could be viewed as just one more way that people are allowed to skirt their own responsibilities. If they had the proper insurance, they wouldn't be in this boat. Instead, they wait for the government to give them a check. In a sense, it actually penalizes someone who is insured. For years, that person paid premiums. When the disaster came, they filed the appropriate claims and took care of their financial repsonsibilities. Now, because they have previously filed claims, their premiums will go up. A second person was not properly insured. He didn't pay all those premiums over the years. The same disaster came and did the same damage to his property as it did to the first guy. The second guy gets a check from the government to cover part of his loss. The bank has to accept that as payment in full. Now guy number two has the same clean slate as the first guy only he doesn't have the taint of a previous insurance claim on him. Besides, he doesn't ned insurance anyway. The governmetn will bail him out again the next time.

>We are talking about free ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>We are talking about free money here. We aren't tlking loans; we are talking grants. That's money going out that will never come back.

Steve please read the plan.

A more important question I... (Below threshold)
Scott C:

A more important question I think is, what were the original design specifications for the flood walls? If there were only for 12.5 feet and the walls failed at 13 feet its going to be very difficult to hold the Corps culpable no matter what the documentation states.

The logic works this way, I build a wall to 12.5 and promise you that it will adhere to section 4B. After I'm done I'm left with extra material and decide to increase the wall height to 14 feet to prevent or limit "splash" damage.

Due to the limits placed upon me by the remaining materials I cannot warranty or guarantee that the additional 1.5 feet will meet with the standards listed in section 4B.

It maybe a "weak" argument, but it is a valid one and if this is the case (and I must stress that I don't know it is, as I can't locate any data on the original design specifications) then it would become a matter of punishing the Corps for going that extra mile (ie adding the splash protection).

I did read the plan. It ca... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I did read the plan. It called for the money to be paid to homeowners to allow them to pay off the loans to the banks. What part of the plan contradicts what I said? If I missed it, please let me know. I understand the part about the sale of bonds, but those bonds will bear interest which will have to come from the taxpayers. I just don't see where the responsibility issue I raised comes into play.

Again, I am not necessarily talking about the unique circumstances surrounding the flooding of New Orleans. I am more talking about the long-term consequences of this type of plan.

If I were a taxpayer in ... (Below threshold)
MikeB:

If I were a taxpayer in another state, I'd be concerned, very concerned.

Which makes a very good point. I don't want the risk of living in an area that carries a higher than average risk of loss (as indicated by private insurance rates). So, if I'm going to be forced to assume the risk via the Federal government, I want some say in what risk is acceptable (i.e. where to and not to build).

- MikeB

"Did anyone tell the citize... (Below threshold)
J:

"Did anyone tell the citizens of New York to pick up the twin towers by themselves or did they use heavy equipment?"

No. I'm not sure the rubble of two of the tallest buildings in the world is the same type of mess caused by hurricaines. One seems fairly concentrated and contained within large piles. What I see in N.O. is debris scattered accross a much larger area (excpet where it has been concentrated by man http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-01-13-katrina-trash-fire_x.htm?csp=34 ). You even use the word "garbage" to describe the mess. "Garbage" doesn't quite evoke the same image as rubble.

I just think that someone within LA might want to step up and mobilize a couple thousand people and try to take care of things themselves instead of relying on others.

But alas, you can pay others to do it. And complain. The amorphous "Federal Government" is always a convenient whipping boy.

Can't the man break off another billion for us?

Yeah, if those fools in New... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Yeah, if those fools in New Orleans had just convinced the hurricane to push all the debris to a concentrated area, there would be no problem with the government cleaning it up. Since they didn't bother to do that, they should grab a broom!

Ohhhh! This is not good ne... (Below threshold)
solo:

Ohhhh! This is not good news for the taxpayers. If its true that the Fed. was responsible for the design/build and that process was flawed, then we (the tax payers) are gonna have to foot the bill.
But I will say this: if they let Nagin or Blanco get their hands on so much as one penny of that money, I call for nationwide insurrection!

In a broader scope, I agree with the poster above "Mike B". If you can't afford the insurance to live there, then...your f**ked! We shouldn't be paying off the mortgage for anyone who has purchased a home BELOW FREAKIN' SEA LEVEL and didn't purchase flood insurance. If you can't afford flood insurance, then move your arse somewhere else.

You mean it WASN'T George W... (Below threshold)
Omni:

You mean it WASN'T George W. Bush's fault that New Orleans got flooded? But how can that be?

(lol)

Sure the circumstances were... (Below threshold)
kate q:

Sure the circumstances were unique. They'll be unique in the same way next time a hurricane threatens a rebuilt New Orleans.

Oh. And New Yorkers were *aching* to go clean up the Towers. They wouldn't let anyone in who wasn't skilled with heavy machinery or in some other way.
And those guys worked like hell to get it cleaned up so quickly.

In the aftermath, requests would go out over the radio: 'the workers down here could use some clean socks.' Twenty minutes later it would be, frantically, 'no more socks! We're out of places to put them!'
It even felt useful to be able to get out of the way when an emergency vehicle came blaring down the street. If that's the only thing I can contribute, then dammit, I'll get out of the way.

I don't know if this spirit exists in NO right now.

No one seems to understand ... (Below threshold)
peter:

No one seems to understand that the city is sinking, including the leeves, continuosly, yet minutely. You would have to be G-d to know something other than the course of nature caused the break. How can a leeve that is constantly sinking be expected to hold upforever?

>I did read the plan. ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>I did read the plan.

No you did not.

>It called for the money to be paid to homeowners to allow them to pay off the loans to the banks.

That's how I know you did not read the plan. (Or your reading comprehenshion sucks)

You have no clue how the plan woks. Now go read the damn thing or get over it.

>A more important question ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>A more important question I think is, what were the original design specifications for the flood walls? If there were only for 12.5 feet and the walls failed at 13 feet its going to be very difficult to hold the Corps culpable no matter what the documentation states.

Scott C... Thank you for not reading the post before you commented. It does my heart good to know I typed all that for no reason.

>I just think that someone ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>I just think that someone within LA might want to step up and mobilize a couple thousand people and try to take care of things themselves instead of relying on others.

Oh OK... A debris field the size and Great Britian and your answer is "Fuck You, do it yourself."

The next time a burgeler is breakign into your house, don't call 911... You'll just be looking for a goverment freebe. You just go handle it yourself.

A "burgeler" wow what a typ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

A "burgeler" wow what a typo

This _almost_ totally overl... (Below threshold)
ubu:

This _almost_ totally overlooks a key issue, especially considering that we are talking about LA, specifically NO.

The real problem is probably not the design, it's the execution. It's Louisiana, the only state that can make congress look honest by comparison. I strongly expect we're going to find a lot more shortcuts than sheet pilings that didn't go to the mandated 40 feet depth. The investigations, when they come, will be of the contractors and the inspectors that were supposed to oversee them,

My question is was the manu... (Below threshold)
chad:

My question is was the manual referenced in effect at the time the levees were built. I googled it and the basic manual took effect in 1989 replacing a 1961 edition. The previous edition was 1948. So if the design for the levees was approved before 1989 and the 1961 edition of the manual did not conatin a statement like sec 4b case 12 then the levees may have been designed in accordance with the standards then in effect.

Note: The soil borings for the 17th street canal were done in 1981

As I was digging around I also found this

On November 10, 2005, a Times-Picayune article revealed that metal pilings in the 17th Street Canal levee were actually constructed to a depth of 7 feet less than engineering designs specified. Within the next ten days, various reports confirmed that construction on the London Avenue and Industrial Canal levees was similarly below stated standards. The Picayune also revealed that homeowners along the 17th Street Canal near what would be the site of the breech had been reporting on persistent seepage from the canal flooding their yards for a year prior to the Hurricane. On November 30th, the Picayune reported studies showing that the levee floodwalls on the 17th Street Canal were "destined to fail", from bad Army Corps of Engineers design, saying in part "that miscalculation was so obvious and fundamental, investigators said, they "could not fathom" how the design team of engineers from the corps, local firm Eustis Engineering and the national firm Modjeski and Masters could have missed what is being termed the costliest engineering mistake in American history." [4]
[edit]

The Piles Come Up

The two sets of November tests conducted by the Army Corps and LSU researchers used non-invasive seismic methods. Both studies, it turns out, understated the length of the piles by about seven feet. By December, seven of the actual piles had been pulled from the ground and measured. The Engineering News Record reported on December 16 that they ranged from 23' 31/8" to 23' 77/16" long, well within the original design specifications, contradicting the early report of short pilings. The suitability of the original design specifications, however, continues to be contested.

I don't remember seeing this reported here, although there was an article on Nov. 10th about the pilings being too short and the wall being 10 ft off plumb. In fact Paul called me a dumbass for suggesting soil samples were taken (which later turned out to be correct)

As I have said in previous posts, I am not saying the original design was sound, obviously it
wasn't. I am just providing some missing information.

"Oh OK... A debris field th... (Below threshold)
J:

"Oh OK... A debris field the size and Great Britian and your answer is "Fuck You, do it yourself.""

Not quite what I said or even close to what I meant. Interestingly, it was a serious proposal on my part. Good thing you didn't all worked up over it....

"The next time a burgeler is breakign into your house, don't call 911... You'll just be looking for a goverment freebe. You just go handle it yourself."

Here's the thing, my local police department is not run by the Federal Government...it's....wait for it................it's almost here.......LOCAL. When I call 911, they're not going to call someone from DC to help me. A local officer, from my community, will come to my house to investigate. My post was more about wondering what NO was doing for itself on a LOCAL basis? (Heck, I'll even throw in the state of LA for arguments sake).

So the Federal Government throws 20 billion dollars your way.....and you complain about "garbage?"

With the energy you've wasted, you could have helped your neighbors clean up your little portion of Great Britain.

"The Engineering News Recor... (Below threshold)
Doug:

"The Engineering News Record reported on December 16 that they ranged from 23' 31/8" to 23' 77/16" long, well within the original design specifications"

Those lengths includes the height about the ground. The pilings were driven to 17.5 feet as per specification. Another T-P article

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1139036535112900.xml

found that the data from the original borings showed the weak soil layers went down to 40 feet. When the data from the borings was translated to charts, some notations from the boring data was misinterepted and set the bottom of the weak soil at 16 ft. So according to the charts, a depth of 17.5 feet should have been a good design. The original boring data showed that it should have been over 40 feet.

The orginal design premise ... (Below threshold)
Doug:

The orginal design premise from the article that is the subject of the the main post.

"But when Congress authorized the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project in 1965, the now-familiar system of ranking hurricane intensity by Categories 1-5 was not in use. Instead, the corps was directed to protect the city from what the National Weather Service called the "Standard Project Hurricane." This is a once-in-300-years storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph in a 30-mile radius around the eye, traveling at an average speed of 6 mph, creating a storm surge on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain of 11.5 feet."

Of interest should be "once-in-300-years storm" predicted by the NMC in 1965. I wonder if any one has asked the NHC to update their 40-year old prediction of a once-in-300-years storm and its storm surge.

Thanks, for the link. It a... (Below threshold)
chad:

Thanks, for the link. It also partially answers the question of when the levees were built. They height was raised in 1994 to the current 14 feet. That at least was done after the current guidelines were in place. I guess the questions now are:

How did the error in the charts occur?

How should these mistakes be avoided in the future?

The bottom line is, the Cor... (Below threshold)
Mike:

The bottom line is, the Corps is reaching endgame in Southern Louisiana.

Despite the best and heroic efforts of the Corps of Engineers, the mouth of the Mississippi river is held in its current location by mostly artificial means. The river is no longer content to reach the Gulf of Mexico by way of New Orleans.

It wants, and has wanted for years, to move a number of miles west, and empty through the Atchafalaya Basin.

I have a good friend who is a senior officer with the Corps in Southern Louisiana, and he tells me that when the mouth of the Mississippi moves, and move it will, New Orleans will no longer be a port city.

It's just a matter of time.

Forensic engineers... (Below threshold)
bains:
Forensic engineers investigating the levee failures say the layman's translation of that section amounts to a "gotcha" clause for those who believe the walls failed through faulty design...

There's an inherent problem with "layman's translations," namely what the expert doing the translation's motives are. As a structural engineer, I'd want to read all the codes before jumping on board a conclusion by another engineer who may or may not have a vested interest in where the blame is finally placed. That said, I find it case 12 quite peculiar. Read the way the article wants it to be read, it says that if anticipated conditions (design loads) require an 12.5' wall but other non-structural reasons require a 24' wall, well then that retaining wall had damn well be designed to retain 24' of water, or a 100' wall retaining 100'. Layman's translation: in and of themselves case 12 provisions are meaningless.

Paul, I heard o... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Paul,
I heard on the news last night that the feds hurricane czar is now also admitting it was a man-made disaster.
I can't believe some of you jerks think we are all just sitting around waiting for the federal government to do everything. I am sick of the ignorance shown by all of you. Sitting in your comfy little rooms being so judgemental. People are working their butts off in very difficult conditions. Here is one of my favorite volunteer teams, the Katrina Krewe. They get together twice a week to clean the streets of debris. http://www.cleanno.org/ I live in a town one hour outside the city and I have gone in to help with the clean-up. And you know those billions being spent? I saw on another interview with a FEMA director this little gem. $9 billion spent in New Orleans. 6 billion on FEMA "expenses", 3 billion on the actual citizens. (Taken from FEMA's own site) They make our local "corrupt" politicians look like amateurs. At least the locals get some results. Travel trailers are finally beginning to show up, but at the expense of over $100,000 a year per trailer. (This information was from the Senate hearing on Katrina response.) Mayor Bubba could pay his brother-in-law and his lazy son and provide permanent housing for less than that. All of this from the small government Republican administration. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! Your government and your tax money is being wasted by your goverment and NOTHING much is being done to help your fellow citizens for all those big bucks. That is why we are whining. Believe me, you would be whining too.

bains,You wrote:</... (Below threshold)
Paul B.:

bains,

You wrote:

"Read the way the article wants it to be read, it says that if anticipated conditions (design loads) require an 12.5' wall but other non-structural reasons require a 24' wall, well then that retaining wall had damn well be designed to retain 24' of water, or a 100' wall retaining 100'."

Actually, as a civil engineer, I can assure you there is a very sound principle behind this design load case. Although we design a flood wall to protect against a given height of water, we recognize that this height is based on a given statistical level of risk and there is a non-zero chance that the water could get higher. Given this recognition, we design our protective system to fail in the most gentle manner possible: The levee or flood wall should be structurally stable while water comes over the top, giving residents warning and allowing them to escape. It is most undesirable for the system to fail without warning (as the 17th St Canal floodwall seems to have done). A quote I saw not too long ago said that there are two kinds of levees: Those that have been overtopped, and those that will be overtopped. The same holds true for floodwalls, and the design case in question recognizes this as a possibility.

Unfortunately, the public has a very poor understanding of the concepts of risk and probability. For instance, a 100-yr flood is defined as a flood that has a 1% probability of exceedance in any given year. Statistically, if your house is in the 100-yr floodplain the compounded probability that you will experience a 100-yr event over the course of a 30 year mortgage is 26%, or about 1 in 4. People need to understand that they are ALWAYS accepting some risk when they choose to live their lives behind an engineered flood protection system.

Steve b wrote:This type... (Below threshold)

Steve b wrote:This type of bailout could be viewed as just one more way that people are allowed to skirt their own responsibilities. If they had the proper insurance, they wouldn't be in this boat. Instead, they wait for the government to give them a check

The problem with this is suppose the maps provided by the National Flood Insurance Program are incorrect. Suppose you are told you don't need flood insurance based on those maps and it is found out after the fact that the maps were grieviously wrong. The flood plain maps provided by the federal government have proven grossly inaccurate along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, explaining why 1/2 of those homes destroyed in MS were not covered by flood insurance. Those homes were not even listed on the 100 year flood plain maps.

The NFIP also makes the assumption that if you live behind a levee or a dam, you are protected and in many cases are not required by mortgage companies to carry flood insurance.

The government provides the maps for homeowners to make decisions regarding flood insurance and those maps were inaccurate.

Paul,I used to wor... (Below threshold)

Paul,

I used to work for Richard Hugh Baker on the hill and he is a brilliant man.

This plan is much like the Resolution Trust Fund and that has had NO LONG TERM effects. As a matter of fact, it had a great effect in the market by readjusting a lot of over priced housing.

Sure, the taxpayer took a hit, but with the crazy money made in the 80's and 90's; we have recovered well.

The Baker Plan is brilliant, but the Louisiana Legislature and it's governor are not and they are not resolving the internal problems that have created the problems that were the true root of this disaster: Greed, Graft and Incompetent boards managing true governmental responsibilities.

You're missing my point Pau... (Below threshold)
bains:

You're missing my point Paul B. I'm not disputing the how or why behind design loads. Rather, I'm pointing out that the bit of code referenced (Sec 4b case 12) is meaningless in and of itself.

bains,Here's a lin... (Below threshold)
Paul B.:

bains,

Here's a link to the manual:
http://www.usace.army.mil/inet/usace-docs/eng-manuals/em1110-2-2502/c-4.pdf

The issues are not separable. Near the top of page 4-2, Paragraph 4-4.b specifies design load "Case I2, Water to Top of Wall." By no stretch of the imagination is this "meaningless." Actually, the meaningless load case appears to be I1 because it is the same as I2 but with a reduced hydrostatic loading (the difference being the freeboard height). When is that ever going to govern the design?

Thanks for the link Paul - ... (Below threshold)
bains:

Thanks for the link Paul -

As you well know, codes contain many references, citations, exceptions, etc. My point is that without knowing the whole code, or manual in this case (EM1110-2-2502), one sentences in chapter 4-4b (case I2) is without it's requisite context, and is therefore meaningless. For the article to quote it and add that in layman's terms it is, in and of itself a "gotcha," is disengeneous at best.

I'm not arguing whether or not the 17 street canal walls failed to meet the Corps' own specifications - I dont know enough yet (I certainly would wager that they were not built to specifications). I just dont like another 'priest' spouting off definitive truths when I know it's not as clear cut as he or she is preaching.

Maybe its just the fact tha... (Below threshold)
Scott C:

Maybe its just the fact that I spent all day yesterday strapped into a dentist chair, where the good old dentist did a root canal on the wrong freak'n tooth, or it might be the phone call from my broker this morning that went "Ah, due to a computer error...um...your account has been marked as abandoned...and so, er, those holdings you were going to sell to pay off your mortgage...well...ah...its going to be another ten to twenty days before we can do that...", or it might even be my boss walking into my cube at 10:30 this morning and saying "I'm going on vacation for the next three weeks, you don't mind covering for me do you?" and then getting on a plane, but I find Paul's response to my post a bit childish and wonder if he isn't perhaps too close to the issue.

My point (and perhaps I need to articulate it better) is simply that if the original design specifications called for 12.5' and the walls failed at 13' feet, its going to be hard to hold the Corps responsibly unless those design requirements were updated.

Re-reading your post I do not see a link (though there are other links provided in the comments section that I haven't reviewed at this time) to the original design specifications. I do see a link, and quotes from 1110-2-2502 which in effect say "If you build a 14 foot wall it had better darn well not fail before 14 feet" which is a far cry from what I was asking about.

I also see your comment which states " Every indication we have is that the walls failed before that level anyway " when discussing the 12.5 foot matter, but I see no supporting information. If you have that (or have even already posted in another post, link to it), then provide it. I'm all the way in California and don't have the same level of visibility that you do. But please, don't take the DU track of "Take my word for it..."

So perhaps the question I should have asked first, is what were the original design requirements on the walls?

Now, with that asked, is there reasonable doubt the Corps screwed up? Not really. From some of the other comments and links (particularly those by Doug) would show that the entire process from design to construction was plagued by stupidity.

Paul,Um, sorry. E... (Below threshold)
mph:

Paul,

Um, sorry. Explain again why I owe you $20B for choosing to live below sea level?

I am a New Orleans resident... (Below threshold)
Wilson Var:

I am a New Orleans resident.If you all know of any lawsuits aganist louisiana/new orleans government for the failings of the leeves. I would like to take part. The money for the leeves were redirected to other places causing damage in my property as well as my life.




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