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Author Topic:   Hurricane Katrina
Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 67 of 315 (238959)
08-31-2005 12:01 PM
Reply to: Message 61 by randman
08-31-2005 10:29 AM


Re: Can the city be saved?
I don't think its a matter of not having equipment. Its a matter of scope of the problem. I have relatives in the area and the word I received is that some of the levee breaches are several hundred feet long.

Yesterday they were using helicopters to drop 3,000 lb bags of sand into the breach, but those just got washed away immediately. They can't establish a foundation with which to build up. They were even dropping old cars and trucks into the breach to try and build a foundation, but those got washed away also.


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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 75 of 315 (239099)
08-31-2005 3:58 PM
Reply to: Message 61 by randman
08-31-2005 10:29 AM


Re: Can the city be saved?
A quick follow-up on those levees:

The Army Corps of Engineers said it planned to use heavy-duty Chinook helicopters to drop 20,000-pound sandbags Wednesday into the 500-foot gap in the failed floodwall. But the agency said it was having trouble getting the sandbags and dozens of 15-foot highway barriers to the site because the city's waterways were blocked by loose barges, boats and large debris.

Officials said they were also looking at a more audacious plan: finding a barge to plug the 500-foot hole

Source

I hope they show video of the "barge plan"


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 Message 61 by randman, posted 08-31-2005 10:29 AM randman has responded

Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 142 of 315 (239748)
09-01-2005 6:27 PM
Reply to: Message 81 by crashfrog
08-31-2005 6:06 PM


Louisiana without clout
why shouldn't Bush be blamed for this?

I’ll avoid the “liberals blame Bush” mantra and only deal in specifics as to why Bush shouldn’t be blamed for the disaster. Your article written by blogger Blumenthal only tells part of the story and leaves the conclusion that its all Bush’s fault. You can Google all sorts of articles that paint Bush as responsible for allowing flooding because of budget cuts. But the truth of the matter is rarely reported.

One could easily argue that the threat to New Orleans has been known for many years dating back to the flood of 1927 and more recently to the flooding from hurricane Betsy in 1965. Does it make sense to blame LBJ, Carter and Clinton for knowing about the impending disaster in New Orleans and yet do nothing about it? Of course not and neither does blaming Bush.

There are two distinct issues at hand. The first is emergency preparadness in which first responders in New Orleans are woefully inadequate. That blame rests on local and State officials and perhaps FEMA. But this issue is not part of my response here. My response deals with the breach of the levee system and how that could have been prevented.

First, it helps to understand a little bit about the levee system and who is responsible for it. The system is controlled and maintained by the Orleans Levee District in concert with the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers.

quote:
The Orleans Levee District is responsible for the maintenance of 129 miles of levees and floodwalls, 190 floodgates, 100 flood valves, and two flood control structures. To enhance flood protection, the District, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), participate and cost share in several joint flood protection projects relative to the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Plan. The District is funded primarily by two millages: 5.46 mills authorize in the Louisiana Constitution and 6.44 mills authorized in a general election. Source

So funding for the levee is only partially from fed funds via the USACE, the balance is through state and local mill levies,(taxes). Cutting USACE funding would only affect a portion of the overall Orleans Levee budget. Still, the estimated $70 million shortfall certainly had an impact on several projects as well as routine maintenance issues. But, that amount would not be nearly enough to provide the final funding necessary to solve New Orleans flood issues.

It is true that the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) was formed after the deaths in 1995. SELA has continued their effort to strengthen and renovate the levees.

quote:
Technical reports were prepared in April 1996 and May 1996 to identify the initial work to be implemented under the SELA project authority. These technical reports, which were approved in October 1996, were the basis of the Project Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) for Jefferson and Orleans Parishes that were executed on January 16, 1997 and January 23, 1997. Source

These reports framed the scope of work for the SELA projects. Here is the progress, (as of 3/24/05).

quote:
In Orleans Parish, nine contracts have been awarded, seven are complete, two are underway, and one remains to be awarded. Most of the remaining contracts had been scheduled for award in fiscal year 2003; however, funding limitations have prevented moving forward with those contracts. Overall, the currently scheduled work in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes is about 70 percent complete and should be finished in 2008. Source

The article discusses funding limitations, sure, but the majority of work (70%) has been completed. Even if the work had been 100% complete in time for Katrina and all $70 million had been spent, this effort would have been to maintain and improve a levee design based on a fast moving Cat 3 Hurricane.

The levee system was not designed to handle a Cat 4 or 5 Hurricane. Period. It would not have mattered one bit whether all work by SELA or the Orleans Levee District had been completed, the devastation would have been the same.

Didn’t the politicians and professionals realize this? Sure they did. Many agencies had been conducting studies for years on the projected effects of a Cat 5 Hurricane in New Orleans:

quote:
Scientists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Louisiana State University have issued a number of studies in the past several years indicating that these levees no longer provide protection to the sinking city, and that another direct hit by a strong hurricane would contribute to catastrophe.

A computer simulation of a direct hit by a category four hurricane projected that New Orleans would be submerged in flood water turned toxic by chemicals, fuel, debris, and corpses. In this worst case scenario, tens of thousands of residents trapped in the “bowl” of the city could die and many thousands more would be stranded in the cesspool. Source


Many people from a variety of State and Federal Agencies predicted the disaster including Al Naomi, senior project manager for the Corps of Engineers.

quote:
It's possible to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane," said Al Naomi, "But we've got to start. To do nothing is tantamount to negligence.

So if everybody knew the disaster was only a matter of time why was nothing done?

The answer is simple, political clout. Or in the case of Louisiana, a lack of political clout to secure home town public works projects.

The appropriations committee in Congress decides how much funds are to be allocated to the USACE. Bush can recommend a budget, but ultimately it’s up to the appropriations committee to decide the final amount.

quote:
The Appropriations Committee in Congress will ultimately decide how much the New Orleans district {USACE}will receive. Obviously, the decisions are being made up there that are not beneficial to the state, in my opinion, Naomi said. Let's put it this way: When (former Rep.) Bob Livingston (R-Metairie) was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, we didn't have a monetary problem. Our problem was how do we spend all the money we were getting. Source

It would have been far easier for the USACE to get that $70 million shortfall if Louisiana still had political clout on the appropriations committee as they did when Livingston was chairman. But again, we are only speaking of $70 million dollars.

If this amount were adequate to upgrade the levee system and remediate the wetlands in the surrounding area, then Bush and congress would have been directly responsible.

The truth is that $70 million is a small drop in the bucket compared to the true cost to upgrade the protection surrounding New Orleans in order to prevent a Cat 5 disaster.

quote:
The cost of undertaking disaster prevention was declared by a panel of federal agency and business community representatives to be prohibitively expensive—$14 billion. Instead, the city opted to commission the Army Corp of Engineers to reinforce the levee system to withstand a category three hurricane for $740 million. Source

The cost to prevent a Cat 5 hurricane would run on the order of $14 billion. How many politicians in Washington could successfully lobby for a multi-billion dollar, multi-year project of this magnitude in their home State? Not many at all. Only Senators like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry could pull it off and they did when Massachusetts was awarded the “Big Dig” project in Boston. That’s a $14.6 billion, 12 year project. This is the project magnitude necessary for New Orleans.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with what Kennedy and Kerry did. They acted as they were elected to do, to represent the people of Massachusetts.

Louisiana, on the other hand, had no representatives with that sort of political clout and so the project had no chance of moving forward. Now that death and destruction is evident to everyone, that the strategic importance of New Orleans as a port and oil industry hub is obvious, Louisiana will finally get the Cat 5 protection it has needed for more than 40 years.

There are those who say that if the US had not spent $200 billion in Iraq we would have easily been able to pay for a mere $14 billion for New Orleans. That statement is no more valid than saying the Big Dig price tag of $14.6 billion dollars should have gone to New Orleans because that project would save lives instead of just reducing Boston’s commuter travel time.

Those arguments do not take into account political realities. If the US had not spent $200 billion in Iraq, there is absolutely no reason to believe any of that money would have gone to a $14 billion project in south Louisiana. There simply wasn’t enough political clout or national exposure to force the issue. Until now.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 81 by crashfrog, posted 08-31-2005 6:06 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 143 by dsv, posted 09-01-2005 7:05 PM Monk has responded
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 155 of 315 (239805)
09-01-2005 9:14 PM
Reply to: Message 143 by dsv
09-01-2005 7:05 PM


Re: Louisiana without clout
That's great... call your friend Bush up and tell him to order massive drop shipping of water and supplies. Don't fuck around

Absolutely. I see all those people on the walk ramps at the Superdome and I don't understand why choppers aren't dropping supplies right there.

It is the distinct lack of planning that I find appaling. This is where the elected officials of Louisiana have left their constituents holding the bag. Where is the mayor or other city officials? What is the Governor doing? These are the individuals who should be in charge as the first responders.

These are the folks who are supposed to coordinate the efforts of the feds by having a coherant emergency plan that integrates all groups for the specific needs of New Orleans.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 143 by dsv, posted 09-01-2005 7:05 PM dsv has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 157 by dsv, posted 09-01-2005 9:29 PM Monk has responded

Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 156 of 315 (239807)
09-01-2005 9:26 PM
Reply to: Message 144 by RAZD
09-01-2005 7:20 PM


Re: Louisiana without clout, President Botch without a plan ... again!
Yes, and I do. I blame everyone that has ignored the very plain warning of Hurricane Camille (1969), and it is inconceivable to me that there has been no plan for such a hurricane throughout the south: NO, Mobile, what's the difference? There should be a plan in place to allow the rapid evacuation of everyone.

Well, as I previously posted there are two distinct issues. The emergency disaster planning and the cause of the flooding. The planning is either inadequate, non-existant, or discarded for other reasons. That's a major issue. It an issue that starts with the local and state officials.

Its easy to say Bush, Bush and more Bush. But that simply blinds one to the truth of the matter. Local and State officals bear the primary burden for emergency and evacuation planning in their jurisdictions. Its the same all over the country.

Look at the Guilliani team and their work immediately post 911. It was the mayor and the governor of New York working together, directing actions, coordinating rescue and evacuation efforts. They were implementing their emergency planning. The feds didn't get involved until later.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 158 of 315 (239809)
09-01-2005 9:35 PM
Reply to: Message 157 by dsv
09-01-2005 9:29 PM


Re: Louisiana without clout
I can't speak for the logistics that the president may be facing but I know that there are mega uber super duper stores, WAL-Mart for example, in the nearby areas who have HUGE stockpiles of goods. As the president I would be landing helicopters outside of their facilities and DEMANDING they be loaded and then putting them on the ground, not only at the dome but throughout the streets.

Absolutley correct here. Bush needs to step up given the lack of local leadership.

Doesn't this fall under "Homeland Security?" Let's start actually putting that phrase to some practical use.

Yes, people are dropping dead as we speak.


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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 165 of 315 (239818)
09-01-2005 10:23 PM
Reply to: Message 160 by RAZD
09-01-2005 10:08 PM


Re: Louisiana without clout, President Botch without a plan ... again!
9/11 was small potatoes compared to dealing with ALL of NO. If they only had to deal with the people in the superdome it would be comparable.

Sure it is a different situation. Aid workers could get to the twin tower rubble without being inhibited by water, and workers could talk to each other, and they weren't being shot at. Still, much of these scenarios were predicted, yet NO was unprepared.


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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 171 of 315 (239825)
09-01-2005 10:41 PM


Not just the coast
My sister and her husband survived the storm in Ocean Springs, MS which is just north of Biloxi. They watched as homes on either side of their location were demolished. When they evacuated, they drove north on Hwy 49 up through Hattiesburg and on to Jackson where my other sister lives.

All along the way, there was complete devastation. Every single power pole they passed was down. It didn't really start to get any better until they approached Jackson which is 150 miles away.

All of the media coverage is focused on the coastal areas, but it is much worse than that.


Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 176 of 315 (239831)
09-01-2005 11:17 PM
Reply to: Message 172 by RAZD
09-01-2005 11:08 PM


Re: Not just the coast
of course, then we moved to "tornado alley"

Yea, so did I. I traded hurricanes for tornados, ah well.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 180 of 315 (239838)
09-01-2005 11:34 PM
Reply to: Message 178 by RAZD
09-01-2005 11:26 PM


Re: Not just the coast
Do you have any word of Pascagoula? I haven't heard any, and with Ingalls there ...

No, I haven't heard about that area, but its only about 25 miles east of Biloxi. That can't be good.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 185 of 315 (239852)
09-02-2005 2:21 AM
Reply to: Message 169 by dsv
09-01-2005 10:40 PM


Re: Louisiana without clout
dsv writes:

I agree, especially when the mayor and the citizens are begging for it. As the mayor of New Orleans said, “S.O.S.”

What kind of statement is that, SOS?! I am struck by the abject failure in that remark. It shows much of the reason the situation is getting worse instead of better. A mayor following a well thought out plan as a leader would not need to yell for help and wait until the need is so immediate.

Failure to have a plan and having to be in a situation where the words "SOS" need be uttered is the reason I hold the mayor largely responsible for the continuing suffering. Not the prior cause, but certainly the continuance.

Thor writes:

But I guess it goes back to the planning issue. Having some amtrack units based near major population centres during hurricane season would have been a good piece of forward thinking. Maybe something to think about for future planning.

It doesn't matter what the particulars could be in regards to the exact method of evacuation. Experts can work out the details via various city commissions as part of an evacuation plan.

Yes, it does seem to get back to planning

jar writes:

When will you start planning for the future?

jar, hits the nail with that remark. When to start?

When did Mayor Ray Nagin start planning for the future?

His plan is not evident. Other than to send folks to the Superdome and to dozens of other places around the city. Then what? Is that where the plan ends? Get them to shelter then wait it out? That’s not a plan for evacuation.

I would like to know what Ray Nagin thought as a native of Louisiana when that hurricane turned sustained winds of 160 miles per hour and had a bearing straight for New Orleans. Because as a native of Louisiana, I would know. I would know the very moment I heard the words Category 5. That very moment is the time to begin implementation of the emergency hurricane evacuation plan.

On Saturday, most news reports were reporting the Cat 5 potential when the storm was 300 miles southeast of New Orleans. That was the time to begin coordinating with State and Federal officials. Maybe if that had occurred, and the various agencies coordinated as part of a team, Then desperatly pleading "SOS" could have been avoided.

By Sunday, the evacuation order was made public.

Unfortunately, the plan was to evacuate to the Superdome.

I’m sorry to be so harsh but I find reality particularly stark in the current state of affairs.

Today is Friday. 5 days after the evacuation order. Those people should be out of there by now.

The people of New Orleans will deal with Nagin in the next election.

As for now, and I mean right now, its up to you President Bush.

This message has been edited by Monk, Fri, 09-02-2005 11:20 AM


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 193 of 315 (239946)
09-02-2005 12:23 PM
Reply to: Message 191 by Verotika
09-02-2005 12:01 PM


Re: Mayor Lashes out at Feds
Don't believe the "unacceptable" comments from Bush. Give me a break. Bush is now playing the "disappointed" card.

Why not believe it? Do you think Bush finds the situation "acceptable"?

Do you think Bush is not "disappointed"?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 191 by Verotika, posted 09-02-2005 12:01 PM Verotika has not yet responded

Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 195 of 315 (239950)
09-02-2005 12:41 PM
Reply to: Message 191 by Verotika
09-02-2005 12:01 PM


Re: Mayor Lashes out at Feds
The Federal government’s job in these type of disasters is to assist local and state officials. We don’t have a system in this country whereby when disaster strikes, the state and local authorities automatically step aside and let the feds take over.

That’s what needs to happen in NO right now, but that’s only because state and local officials have not done their job.

And what does Mayor Ray Nagin have to say for himself? Other than point fingers, he might say something like:

“Just because I’m the mayor of New Orleans and a life long resident of Louisiana, it doesn't mean I knew a Cat 5 Hurricane could do that much damage. How was I supposed to know that the levees can only withstand a Cat 3. Sure, all sorts of agencies have been saying it for years, but that doesn't mean I knew about it.

I thought all we had to do was send people to the Superdome and other places. I didn’t know the water wouldn’t recede for weeks. I thought flood water would have been gone the next day that’s why my staff didn’t plan any further. Was that wrong?

If someone would have told me that my city rests in a bowl and there is a danger of severe flooding, I might have planned an evacuation route. Was I supposed to do that? Nobody told me. I'm not responsible for helping the people of New Orleans, I'm just the mayor."

This message has been edited by Monk, Fri, 09-02-2005 12:00 PM


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Replies to this message:
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Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 200 of 315 (239960)
09-02-2005 1:14 PM
Reply to: Message 196 by Silent H
09-02-2005 12:54 PM


Re: Mayor Lashes out at Feds
That's not exactly accurate. In major disasters, just as in wartime, the federal gov't has the capability of acting independently. For example if Cuba invaded NO, the Feds would not have to call the mayor or governor to see what is needed.

We are talking natural disasters here. Its simply not reasonable for local or state officials to plan for an invasion from Cuba. Absurd analogy. It IS, on the other hand, entirely reasonable and expected for state and local officials to plan for Hurricanes in Louisiana. They have been known to hit there from time to time.

Yes, the Feds can act independently, but it would be irresponsible NOT to coordinate efforts with the major’s or governor’s office. The state and local officials, their staff, police, rescue workers, fire fighters, EMT’s, etc. are all on the scene first.

They are there in the city at ground zero. They know the immediate situation, they know the city, the lay of the land, how best to navigate through the city, and on and on. That resource is vital to any rescue effort.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 196 by Silent H, posted 09-02-2005 12:54 PM Silent H has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 204 by Silent H, posted 09-02-2005 2:44 PM Monk has responded

Monk
Member (Idle past 2241 days)
Posts: 782
From: Kansas, USA
Joined: 02-25-2005


Message 211 of 315 (240033)
09-02-2005 4:16 PM
Reply to: Message 204 by Silent H
09-02-2005 2:44 PM


Re: Mayor Lashes out at Feds
Holmes writes:

You are correct that it would be irresponsible not to coordinate efforts. Now lets deal with the reality here. What could they possibly do at the fed level that would hinder operations underway by the state and local gov'ts? Those entities are already despairing (quite publicly) that they have coordination problems in and of themselves due to their isolated and overwhelmed conditions.

Its not a matter of hindering the Feds. I never said that, I said the Feds need to coordinate, discuss, and plan how they will get involved in a situation that already involves state and local personnel. I said upthread that:

quote:
The Federal government’s job in these type of disasters is to assist local and state officials.

You asserted this statement as inaccurate by saying:

quote:
That's not exactly accurate. In major disasters, just as in wartime, the federal gov't has the capability of acting independently. For example if Cuba invaded NO, the Feds would not have to call the mayor or governor to see what is needed.

Holmes, you are jumping around here without making a point. You disagree that the Feds job is to assist. Your point was that they do not need to call anyone, just go down there and get the job done, simple.

Then you retracted that and said I was correct in that it would be irresponsible not to coordinate efforts. Now you are asking what could the feds do that would not hinder operations. Who said they would be a hindrance? Do you mean they wouldn’t be a hindrance if they just went down their without coordinating efforts? What is your point?

Why on earth should he say that when he is talking about what to do NOW? As far as I could tell he was discussing reponse problems, not preventative issues.

Yes, he was discussing response problems but he was also criticizing the Feds for not being there already. His criticism is hypocrisy because of HIS lack of planning. Had the planning been in place, the Feds might have been there already. That’s what I was responding to.

They are overwhelmed. They said so. The time to act was back when they said so... at the very latest.

No Holmes, as I said upthread, the time to get the Feds involved was way back on Saturday when Katrina turned Cat 5 within 300 miles of NO. Nagin should have been on the phone with the Feds at that moment. Instead, he was directing folks to the Superdome for evacuation.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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