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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-01-2006, 05:21 PM
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RE: New Orleans

George Bush built the levees.

Ever since the original planning for construction on the current ring levee system was initiated the USACE said that the system would be built for a Category 3 hurricane. That is what they did. It sustained itself over the course of a lot of storm surges.

What they did not do was build the levee in anticipation of land subsiding and sea level rising. It was not part of the thinking back then because that was a time before subsidence and sea level rise were known to be at work. The levees were static, the system is not.

Worse, a particular attribute of storm surge has only recently been recognized--that it rapidly attenuates in marsh. Louisiana has lost thousands of square miles of marsh in the past decade. It has lost hundreds of square miles since the current ring levee was constructed. Engineers used historical flood and storm surge patterns to construct the ring levee. Since then the marsh has died exposing the levee system to more direct impact of storm surge.

It was only in the past 3 years that definitive subsidence rates have been reliably computed. Google Roy Dokka for info on that. It is a great piece of geodesy for people who are interested. From these data and analysis it is quite clear that the problems of south Louisiana are incredibly difficult and that there are no quick, cheap, and easy fixes for the Big Easy.

The initial belief that the concrete panels were improperly installed was based on seismic return data. Those data indicted that the panels were not planted into the deep, resistant soil but were instead buoyant on the surficial muck. That would have been a huge liability lawsuit on the firms that won the contract for construction.

Subsequent to the seismic analysis the USACE actually pulled many of the intact panels that were supposed (by seismic data) to be improperly installed. It turned out IN EVERY CASE that the seismic data were wrong. This catastrophe research is being conducted by several independent research engineering groups.

It maybe possible to buy-off and/or trick all of the engineers and scientists working on this, but I doubt it. I think the final results will indicate that the levee system behaved as designed and failure was predictable under present circumstances. After that the conspiracy theorists will have a go at it and then we'll find that George Bush really was on the Grassy Knoll.

The taxpayers have to decide whether they are willing to fund perpetual protection in a subsiding and degrading environment.

This is NOT the type of system faced in Holland. It will give a false sense of engineering competency to apply the Low Country experiences in the Mississippi Distributary System. The Mississippi System is far more complex and dynamic.

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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-01-2006, 05:27 PM
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RE: New Orleans

I hope the dams don't melt.


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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2006, 09:13 AM
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RE: New Orleans

Quote:
barberhauler - 3/1/2006 7:06 PM
Was it a Dutch boy who stuck his thumb in a dyke and it was kind of a good thing but he got in trouble too???
I can't amember how that story went......
That was the story - but can't be accurate - the dutch dykes look like this -

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2006, 09:19 AM
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RE: New Orleans

and not a windmill in sight?[:0]

http://heidilandrover.webeden.co.uk

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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2006, 09:23 AM
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RE: New Orleans

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Kajtek1 - 3/1/2006 10:56 AM

Since when Americans listen to foreigners?


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post #16 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2006, 09:38 AM
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RE: New Orleans

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matteus - 2/27/2006 6:30 PM

Just watched a short documentary about New Orleans on todays day. A Dutch engineer/dam builder commented that the walls keeping the water out of the city are simply pathetic. He couldn't understand how someone with a little knowledge of water would build a dam like that. The wall is too thin, and isn't supported enough for it's height, it just hinged like door when the water rushed against it.
Comments/completions?
I saw the same show. Even more stupid was the cross-town canal, which ran like a diameter line drawn through a circle. It created an excellent point for the water hammer from the storm surge to knock a hole in the levee at the intersection of the line, which is exactly what it did. Overall, the thing looks like it was designed by a drunk.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #17 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-02-2006, 11:23 AM
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RE: New Orleans

Concerning the (stupid) internal canal design folks thought it was a good idea because back in the day the most important issue was pumping stagnant water out of ditches. tens of thousands of people died in and around NOLA of mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. When Walter Reed proved that connection, NOLA went canal-crazy. The canals also had the benefit of drying the land allowing expansion into formerly swampy areas. But these areas required levees....and here we are today.

One of the unintended consequences of the pumping system was to dry-out the highly organic, anaerobically stabilized soils. When they dried oxygen got into the soil which dramatically increased the oxidation of the organics in the soil causing massive loss of ground elevation. Whole neighborhoods in NOLA can be seen in which home slabs are now 1/4 to 1/2 meter ABOVE the soil, resulting in a very lucrative foundation stabilization and repair business in NOLA.

The larger result of that oxidation is that whole neighborhoods were sinking deeper. This meant they were more likely to flood in rainstorms so the city dug deeper ditches to pump the water out, drying more soil, etc.

The question taxpayers are going to have to answer and tell their Congressmen and Senators is whether or not you want to maintain NOLA in perpetuity with tax dollars. It's your choice and you better tell your folks or some bureaucrat will obligate you to spend billions every decade from now until eternity.

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