Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Quick one: Let's get something clear, because it's starting to irritate me: the levees in New Orleans did not breach or break. The levees are intact. When I mentioned in an earlier post that no one foresaw levees breaking (as opposed to overflowing), that's because levees are enormous mounds of reinforced earth fifty feet wide at the bottom. They can overflow, but breaching is highly unlikely. What did break in NOLA were canal floodwalls, much smaller, steel-and-concrete structures much more likely to be damaged by some kind of impact or extreme pressure. And here's the part that irritates me: Yes, the levees are the responsibility of the thoroughly inept and historically corrupt NOLA levee district, not the federal government. But the levees didn't break. The floodwalls on the outfall canals did, and the canals are the joint responsibility of the levee board, the NOLA sewerage and water and the Corps of Engineers. This canal work was put on hold when federal funding was cut. Okay? The levees did not break, and what did break is not the sole responsibility of the levee district -- it's also a federal responsibility. EDIT: In the blizzard of contradictory reports, I may have missed news of the storm surge overflowing the levees. I don't know if that happened or not; I wouldn't be surprised. But overflow is not the same as a breach, and those pictures we've all seen on the news were of floodwall breaches, not levee breaches. Despite what nearly every published report says. C'mon: these people aren't from here. They don't know the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine, or Jambalaya and Dirty Rice, or Zydeco versus Cajun music; they think the Atchafalaya swamp is a quick swim from the CBD and that everyone in NOLA has a French accent. I doubt they could tell a levee from a coulee without flashcards. "Levee" just sounds more southern, so that's what gets used instead of boring old "floodwalls." Okay, fine. They breached. First floodwalls, then levees.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should be clear in your comments that federal funding was not cut for the levees or floodwalls. This portion of the project was fully complete and fully maintained.

9/13/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Suspect Device said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/13/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Suspect Device said...

Untrue. See http://alternet.org/story/24871/ for one summary, http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/8/30/225058/062 for another.

9/13/2005 04:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Speaking of floodwaters*, maybe you can provide a reality check on the impression I've gotten: The direct hit from the hurricane certainly did its damage, but what ultimately led to the flooding was the rainwater washed downriver after Katrina had moved north? Yes, no, kinda sorta, tinfoil hat?

* My new segueing techniques are unstoppable

9/14/2005 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Suspect Device said...

"The direct hit from the hurricane certainly did its damage, but what ultimately led to the flooding was the rainwater washed downriver after Katrina had moved north? Yes, no, kinda sorta, tinfoil hat?"

No. What led to the flooding were the five broken floodwalls along the canals.

9/14/2005 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Well, sorry, I wasn't clear enough; I understand that. I'm asking whether Katrina dumped enough water directly on New Orleans for that to happen, or if it happened only after rainwater from upriver reached the city.

9/14/2005 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

Nemmine -- assuming CNN got this right, it was Katrina's effect on the lake, not rainwater arriving via the river from farther north, that caused the overflow. (CNN's inaccuracy in this second sentence noted. I've been curious about how far the storm surge traveled and how it arrived, which this seems to answer.)

As Katrina moved over land Monday the water it brought surged into Lake Pontchartrain.

A day later, the straining levees could not hold back the additional water and they broke in three places -- along the Industrial Canal, the 17th Street Canal, and the London Street Canal -- allowing water to pour into the city.

9/14/2005 10:37:00 AM  

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