13 January 2006

A Few New Orleans Drainage Canal/Floodwall Questions/Comments . . .

1. What impact on the load/volume of the outfall canals did the multi-year drainage improvement work (part of the SELA--South Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project) done over the past five years on Claiborne and Napoleon have?

2. What impact did the year old I-10/Southern Railroad underpass pump have on the load/volume of 17th Street Canal? According to LA DOTD, this 25 million dollar pump can push 390,000 gallons of water per minute. At what point did this pump stop working during the landfall of KTMB?

3. What effect did canal dredging have on the structural integrity of the flood walls? Was the dredging limited to the 17th Street and London Avenue Canals--the two that had experienced breaches? Have the Orleans Outfall and Bayou St. John not been dredged? I only have confirmation that the 17th Street Canal was dredged.

4. I believe I heard (although I can't seem to find anything online to confirm this) LSU professor Ivor van Heerden on a WWL forum show a couple of months ago say that the level of Lake Pontchartrain rose higher from the storm surge of Hurricane Georges in 1998 than it did for Hurricane Katrina. If so, what are the significant physical changes in the drainage/flood protection network that potentially impacted the flood walls of the 17th Street and London Avenue Canals over the past seven years? Above Items 1, 2, and 3, perhaps?

5. I heard a caller on WWL Radio a few weeks after the storm who stayed at his Bucktown home during the landfall of the storm. He said that after the storm passed, he walked over to the 17th Street Canal to see how high the water was. When he got to the canal, he said the water within it was incredibly violent with whirlpools and eddies and lots of waves. Surely such dispersed energy could cause problems with levee wall foundations--especially in situations where built-up canal bottom silt was dredged out making the foundations more vulnerable.

6. The construction of the foundation of the Orleans Outfall Canal wall on the Lakeview side was different from all of the other floodwalls--including the critical portions that failed. In the latest edition of Harry Shearer's LE SHOW, Clancy Dubos mentioned this fact as well. To me this seems rather significant . . .

7. Following the baseline flooding events in 1927 (the Mississippi River Flood of 1927) and 1965 (Hurricane Betsy) the United States federal government--the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers--assumed overall responsibility for flood protection of the New Orleans area. The old "corrupt Louisiana politics" excuse has been blamed over and over since this disaster to deflect blame, but when it comes down to it, the FEDS are responsible for New Orleans' flood protection. The flooding damage incurred--at least within the City of New Orleans--was not derived from a natural disaster, but instead from a manmade disaster of inadequate flood protection and long-time environmental abuse and irresponsibility.


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