# New Orleans disaster predicted in 2001

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Some friends of mine went to Mardi Gras this year for their first time. I semi-jokingly told them that they should go now before it is underwater.

Katrina is gone, but the flooding continues. This scenario was not unforeseen, FEMA listed it as one of the top 3 most likely disasters to strike the US. The other two; an earthquake in San Francisco and terrorist attack in New York city. :surprised

http://www.hurricane.lsu.edu/_in_the_news/houston.htm [Broken]

Incidently the money for shoring up the levees was used for homeland security and the Iraq war.

And where is the Louisiana national guard?

Oh thats right, in Iraq.

Gee wasn't this war a great idea?

I wonder how red Louisiana will be in 2006/2008

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Manchot
Though I want to believe you, do you have any links about the levee money?

EDIT: Never mind, I found http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/8/30/212451/290 [Broken] myself. Apparently, they required $11 million for the levees, and for the first time in 37 years, they didn't get what they needed. In the Bush administration's proposed budget, they were going to get a whopping$3 million, though Congress bumped it up to $5.5 million (half of what they needed). Construction actually stopped on the levees for this reason. It's good to know that his priorities are in order. Last edited by a moderator: TRCSF Yeah, it was known that it could happen at any time for a lot longer than 2001. I can remember seeing news programs about how New Orleans is slowly sinking and will inevitably end up like Venice, and since it's on the Gulf Coast it's set up for a humanitarian disaster. Just like what happened. Last year there was a big hurricane that veered away from NOLA at the last minute, you could tell be the evacuations and the voices of the authorities that they were really, really scared. You could see the same thing this time as Katrina approached. There was a meteorologist on the Weather Channel who's voice was cracking Sunday night as he was reporting that the hurricane would hit NOLA. He obviously knew what was going to happen, and was visibly frightened. I've never seen that in a weatherman before. Yeah, those three thousand Louisiana National Guard members in Iraq sure would be helpful right now. Just goes to show you. TRCSF Manchot said: Though I want to believe you, do you have any links about the levee money? EDIT: Never mind, I found http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/8/30/212451/290 [Broken] myself. Apparently, they required$11 million for the levees, and for the first time in 37 years, they didn't get what they needed. In the Bush administration's proposed budget, they were going to get a whopping $3 million, though Congress bumped it up to$5.5 million (half of what they needed). Construction actually stopped on the levees for this reason. It's good to know that his priorities are in order.

Here's another one.

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Manchot
Before anyone tries to rebut this by saying that the "liberals" who are touting this against the Bush administration said nothing about it when the budget was proposed, remember these two things:

1. The media did not report about this budget cut on a large scale. The only media that did report about it was the New Orleans local media, which leads me to my second point...
2. Louisiana's a red state, and no one complained for that reason. Say what you will, but it's hard to find out that a problem exists when the people affected by it don't say anything about it.

Mentor
Wow, guys, wow. Have you no shame? ~1000 people died, and all you can do is use it as a wrong political cheap-shot? Sick.

The levee system in NO was built to withstand a direct hit from a cat3 hurricane. What it got was a glancing blow from a cat4. This, $3, 5, or 11 million had nothing whatsoever to do with the disaster. What NO really needed was a different starting design criteria and a couple of billion dollars on a completely new levee system. edit2: This money was part of a decades long project to improve the locks on the levee system. http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/prj/ihnc/TEXTinteractive.asp#WestBank1 is an interactive map. Of note, the one levee height listed: 22.4 feet. Not enough. edit3: There is more than one project. It may have been http://www.mvn.usace.army.mil/pao/visitor/lkpon1.asp one. Its a$740 million project, with a Cat3 design criteria. The first portions were scheduled for completion in 2010, the whole project by 2015.

edit: More...

The problem here is the classic engineering compromise: money vs quality. I deal with this every day (twice, today, in fact). Someone, somewhere decided that the 1 in 50 years risk (my estimate) of a direct hit from a cat3 hurricane was all the protection they were willing to pay for when deciding on how tough of a levee system to build. They rolled the dice and lost.

I read today that officials in the Netherlands expressed surprise that NO's system wasn't built to withstand more: theirs is. The engineering of levees is quite simple: if you expect 20 feet of water outside, build a 25 foot levee - if you expect 40 feet, buld a 50 foot levee. Its just a bell-curve shaped earthen/concrete dam. It would have been a piece of cake to build, but it would have cost more.

The fact of the matter is that this is a government project and governments (the US is as bad as anyone) don't hold themselves to the same high standards as they hold their citizens. The larger buildings in the city are built to withstand a direct hit from a cat5 hurricane. Someone in government, some decades ago, decided not to build the levees to that standard.

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TRCSF
Political cheap shot?

Look. It's the job of the office of the President of the United States to take care of things like this, and Bush done f*cked up.

I think the only reason you're defending him is because you voted for the guy, and you can't admit you've made a mistake.

People are dying because this guy is incompetent.

To quote the snake, "you knew I was a snake."

Mentor
TRCSF said:
Political cheap shot?

Look. It's the job of the office of the President of the United States to take care of things like this, and Bush done f*cked up.

People are dying because this guy is incompetent.
Jeez, it doesn't stop!! Did you read any of what I just wrote there? Nothing Bush could have done differently would have prevented this. Clearly you don't believe that, so post your evidence/argument and PROVE IT!

You've gone far beyond irrational here: you're being vindictive, even hateful, at the expense of the victims of this storm.

TRCSF
russ_watters said:
Jeez, it doesn't stop!! Did you read any of what I just wrote there? Nothing Bush could have done differently would have prevented this. Clearly you don't believe that, so post your evidence/argument and PROVE IT!

You've gone far beyond irrational here: you're being vindictive, even hateful, at the expense of the victims of this storm.

Did Bush cause the hurricane? No.

Could the levee funds he cut have prevented the flooding? Possibly.

Could the 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen in Iraq saved lives if they were where they were supposed to be? Definitely.

Could the numerous National Guard helicopters and highwater vehicles currently in Iraq have saved lives? Undoubtedly.

Did Bush f*ck up? Yup.

And thousands of displaced victims and relief workers, both right and left, agree.

But hey, at least he cut his vacation from 37 days to 35 days so he could view the damage from Air Force One.

TRCSF
Some notes-

"If and when the President decides to step up..." sarcastically said Admiral Timothy Keating, head of Northern Command, on the military readiness to respond to the disaster.

Both Governor Blanco and Louisiana Mayor Nagin have complained to the media about the lack and poor coordination of the response. Mayor Nagin has made serious complaints to WWL of Louisiana of "too many chefs." Although he hopes they can solve the problem and get things straightend out.

Jean Meserve, reporting from NOLA, recently recieving notice for her emotional reporting of residents being trapped in their attacks and drowning as people are unable to help them, has stated there's a serious shortage of national gaurdsmen.

Joe Albaugh, head of FEMA, is a Bush appointee and his former campaign manager. There's serious questions about his qualifications. He's been giving press conferences with conflicting information about what's happening in NOLA (e.g. stating the water was receding while it was rising.) And claiming the impact on the nations economy will be negligable.

Bush flew back to washington from his 35 day vacation, having spent the night at a luxury resort in San Diego for a fund raiser. Four days after the hurricane hit he gave brief speech, telling the american people that New Orleans is underwater that that it's a bad situation, while frequently slurring and mispronouncing words.

When asked of what he thought of the speech, a refugee boy from Biloxi told MSNBC reporter, "He ain't President no more. President Bush don't know what he's doing."

Ironically, the boy's comment was more grammatically correct than Bush's speech.

1123581321
TRCSF said:
Could the 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen in Iraq saved lives if they were where they were supposed to be? Definitely.

Could the numerous National Guard helicopters and highwater vehicles currently in Iraq have saved lives? Undoubtedly.
QUOTE]

it is the governors fault for not ordering the guard to respond/asking for other guardsman if they don't have enough.

not the presidents for starting a war.

Mattius_
Could the levee funds he cut have prevented the flooding? Possibly.

Maybe in your blind rage you just skipped over Russ's post completely... In any case, look at it again.

russ_watters said:
The levee system in NO was built to withstand a direct hit from a cat3 hurricane. What it got was a glancing blow from a cat4. This, $3, 5, or 11 million had nothing whatsoever to do with the disaster. What NO really needed was a different starting design criteria and a couple of billion dollars on a completely new levee system. Or maybe this idea. The only solution, scientists, politicians and other Louisiana officials agree, is to take large-scale steps to minimize the risks, such as rebuilding the protective delta. Every two miles of marsh between New Orleans and the Gulf reduces a storm surge -- which in some cases is 20 feet or higher -- by half a foot. In 1990, the Breaux Act, named for its author, Sen. John Breaux, D-La., created a task force of several federal agencies to address the severe wetlands loss in coastal Louisiana. The act has brought about$40 million a year for wetland restoration projects, but it hasn't been enough.
"It's kind of been like trying to give aspirin to a cancer patient," said Len Bahr, director of Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster's coastal activities office.
The state loses about 25 square miles of land a year, the equivalent of about one football field every 15 minutes. The fishing industry, without marshes, swamps and fertile wetlands, could lose a projected $37 billion by the year 2050. University of New Orleans researchers studied the impact of Breaux Act projects on the vanishing wetlands and estimated that only 2 percent of the loss has been averted. Clearly, Bahr said, there is a need for something much bigger. There is some evidence this finally may be happening. A consortium of local, state and federal agencies is studying a$2 billion to $3 billion plan to divert sediment from the Mississippi River back into the delta. Because the river is leveed all the way to the Gulf, where sediment is dumped into deep water, nothing is left to replenish the receding delta. Other possible projects include restoration of barrier reefs and perhaps a large gate to prevent Lake Pontchartrain from overflowing and drowning the city. All are multibillion-dollar projects. A plan to restore the Florida Everglades attracted$4 billion in federal funding, but the state had to match it dollar for dollar. In Louisiana, so far, there's only been a willingness to match 15 or 25 cents.
"Our state still looks for a 100 percent federal bailout, but that's just not going to happen," said University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland, a delta expert.
"We have an image and credibility problem. We have to convince our country that they need to take us seriously, that they can trust us to do a science-based restoration program."

 Why does it always come back to the environment

pattylou
russ_watters said:
The fact of the matter is that this is a government project and governments (the US is as bad as anyone) don't hold themselves to the same high standards as they hold their citizens. The larger buildings in the city are built to withstand a direct hit from a cat5 hurricane. Someone in government, some decades ago, decided not to build the levees to that standard.

hey Russ.

I heard this week, something I had forgotten. That NO is "sinking" because it doesn't have accumulation in the flood plain every year, as it would if it were allowed to flood. The flooding is prevented because we have a city there, after all.

Any idea how much it has "sunk" in the past few decades, in other words would the height differential have affected the planning on the levees decades ago?

Mentor
pattylou said:
hey Russ.

I heard this week, something I had forgotten. That NO is "sinking" because it doesn't have accumulation in the flood plain every year, as it would if it were allowed to flood. The flooding is prevented because we have a city there, after all.

Any idea how much it has "sunk" in the past few decades, in other words would the height differential have affected the planning on the levees decades ago?
Sorry, I don't know anything at all about that.

Mentor
TRCSF said:
Did Bush cause the hurricane? No.
Correct.
Could the levee funds he cut have prevented the flooding? Possibly.
Certainly not. Again, since the first phases are only supposed to be completed in 2010, the only way that extra $10 million would have helped, is if it was used to construct a time machine. Could the 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen in Iraq saved lives if they were where they were supposed to be? Definitely. No. Could the numerous National Guard helicopters and highwater vehicles currently in Iraq have saved lives? Undoubtedly. Also no. TRSCF, Louisiana and the surrounding states have not even called up all the troops they have yet! This country has a very large pool - a "deep bench" as one general I heard on C-Span today put it. They are nowhere near using all the available resources. The biggest problem in the relief effort in such situations is, as always, organization and coordination, not the availability of resources. Before these forces can be emplooyed, planning has to be done and that takes time. Time enough for a helicopter crew, for example, to fly in from Texas. But you already know that - you said it in one of your posts, then ignored our own point! :uhh: Last edited: Mentor Mattius_ said: Maybe in your blind rage you just skipped over Russ's post completely... In any case, look at it again. Jeez, thanks - at least I know I didn't just write something no one read. This is nuts. Mentor Skyhunter said: Or maybe this idea. Ehh, I'm not a big fan. I really prefer the certainty of a massive wall around the city. hitssquad russ_watters said: ~1000 people died Now the predictions are that the final toll will be ~10,000. Mentor pattylou said: hey Russ. I heard this week, something I had forgotten. That NO is "sinking" because it doesn't have accumulation in the flood plain every year, as it would if it were allowed to flood. The flooding is prevented because we have a city there, after all. Any idea how much it has "sunk" in the past few decades, in other words would the height differential have affected the planning on the levees decades ago? I read a few years ago about how New Orleans was doomed. They have pumps going constantly to remove water. The city shouldn't even be there. I used to live in Houston, Tx. The city is below sea level and sinking at an alarming rate because it is built over an underground lake, which (and this is brilliant) people have been pumping water out of for years and then realized the devastating effect it was having. Gee, ya think? Houston has been plagued with terrible floods for years. I remember one year after a tropical storm, paddling a canoe to the nearby 7-11. People were being rescued out of second story windows and roof tops by boat. Evo said: I read a few years ago about how New Orleans was doomed. They have pumps going constantly to remove water. The city shouldn't even be there. I used to live in Houston, Tx. The city is below sea level and sinking at an alarming rate because it is built over an underground lake, which (and this is brilliant) people have been pumping water out of for years and then realized the devastating effect it was having. Gee, ya think? Houston has been plagued with terrible floods for years. I remember one year after a tropical storm, paddling a canoe to the nearby 7-11. People were being rescued out of second story windows and roof tops by boat. New Orleans is built on a marsh and is currently about fourteen feet below sea level. With the Mississipi river and Lake Pontchartrain, being so close, and higher than the city, they must continually pump out the water which causes the ground to sink further. I wouldn't be so quick to absolve Bush of any responsibility. PHILADELPHIA Even though Hurricane Katrina has moved well north of the city, the waters may still keep rising in New Orleans. That's because Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through a two-block-long break in the main levee, near the city's 17th Street Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level, the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake. And then there is this; The$750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes.

The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about$20 million is needed.
It isn't the locks that failed, it was these levees that were never completed because of lack of funding.

Mentor
But this was all known well before Bush took office. What did Clinton do to improve the levees?

russ_watters said:
The biggest problem in the relief effort in such situations is, as always, organization and coordination, not the availability of resources. Before these forces can be emplooyed, planning has to be done and that takes time. Time enough for a helicopter crew, for example, to fly in from Texas.
Hey we are agreeing again.

The advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA. The newly appointed leadership of the agency showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed [James Lee] Witt. Then came the Sept. 11 attacks and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Soon FEMA was being absorbed into the "homeland security borg."

This year it was announced that FEMA is to "officially" lose the disaster preparedness function that it has had since its creation. The move is a death blow to an agency that was already on life support. In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_08/007014.php

Makes me long for the good old days when we had a president who took the job seriously.

In 1992 the GAO recommended sweeping changes in FEMA's mission and organization, and the newly elected Bill Clinton took the GAO's recommendations seriously. The first thing he did was appoint as FEMA's director James Lee Witt, a former construction company owner who had worked with Clinton in Arkansas as director of the state Office of Emergency Services, where he earned high marks for his management of three presidential disaster declarations, including two major floods in 1990 and 1991.

Mentor
Skyhunter said:
Makes me long for the good old days when we had a president who took the job seriously.
So, what did Clinton do to upgrade the levees during his 8 years in office?

pattylou
Evo said:
So, what did Clinton do to upgrade the levees during his 8 years in office?

Emphasized domestic policy over foreign policy?

(National guards, disaster relief funds available etc?)

I don't really know - but it sounds as though you are saying that since he didn't (AFAIK) push through pro-levee legislation specifically, that he is as guilty as Bush. This is too simplistic. The style of leadership was very different. The priorities were different. He emphasized America. Hell, he *ran* on "the economy stupid" not "global threats." Although he certainly engaged in foreign affairs, it wasn't how he wanted to blaze a name for himself in history.

One of the biggest complaints about bush that continues to come up again and again, is that he is ruining our country in myriad ways by focusing on the ME and pouring all our military (and money) into that part of the world - apparently to little benefit. *We* suffer as a result.

Had the miltary been at home over the last few weeks, they would have the know-how and manpower and training to evacuate, to establish communication and transportation *now,* through any problematic condition. They are trained for war - like conditions - including swamped terrain.

I'm speaking in broad terms, but I think the argument has merit.

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Mentor
pattylou said:
I don';t really know - but it sounds as thpough you are saying that since he didn't (AFAIK) puish through pro-levee legislation, that he is as guilty as Bush.
No, I'm just saying lots of presidents had an opportunity to improve the levees and no one did, AFAIK, I'm just making sure no one goes off on a meaningless tangent.

As far as I am concerned, the National Guard is for domestic use and it is wrong to send them overseas. But, it's not my decision. :grumpy:

Evo said:
So, what did Clinton do to upgrade the levees during his 8 years in office?
This has been a known problem since 1960. Clinton did a lot to improve FEMA, and Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA. The program that Bush cut.

And whatever happened to the "The buck stops here". I have never seen so many people make so many excuses for the failures of this president.

Rabid
Here is some information about FEMA under Clinton

Among emergency specialists, "mitigation" -- the measures taken in advance to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters -- is a crucial part of the strategy to save lives and cut recovery costs. But since 2001, key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, have been slashed and tossed aside. FEMA's Project Impact, a model mitigation program created by the Clinton administration, has been canceled outright. Federal funding of post-disaster mitigation efforts designed to protect people and property from the next disaster has been cut in half. Communities across the country must now compete for pre-disaster mitigation dollars.

As a result, some state and local emergency managers say, it's become more difficult to get the equipment and funds they need to most effectively deal with disasters. In Louisiana, requests for flood mitigation funds were rejected by FEMA this summer. (See sidebar.) In North Carolina, a state also regularly threatened by hurricanes and floods, FEMA recently refused the state's request to buy backup generators for emergency support facilities. And the budget cuts have halved the funding for a mitigation program that saved an estimated \$8.8 million in recovery costs in three eastern North Carolina communities alone after 1999's Hurricane Floyd..

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2004-09-28/cover_story.html [Broken]

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Mentor
Rabid said:
Here is some information about FEMA under Clinton

http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2004-09-28/cover_story.html [Broken]
Shows that Clinton could have actually DONE something and DIDN'T. Appointing committees and people is lip service. Why didn't he actually DO SOMETHING? What IMPROVEMENTS to the levee did he make???

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pattylou
I don't think anyone said Bush should have improved the levee.

In fact, someone pointed out that levee improvement was underway - and scheduled to complete in 2010.

People are saying that Bush cut programs and funds that could save lives. Clinton didn't. I don't understand your point, Evo. Obviously, there are dozens of catastrophes waiting to happen. The supervolcano under Yellowstone. Earthquakes in LA. Mt St. Helens. Tsunami in Oregon. Volcanoes in Hawaii. Twisters in the midwest. Famine, drought.

Flooding in Louisiana.

I don't think it is reasonable for any president to protect absolutely against each of these threats. But if a president has a style of making sure emergency relief (or mitigation) is available --- vs taking that relief (and mitigation) and squandering it -

The comparison seems clear.

What am I missing?

Rabid
I think appropriating millions for disaster mitigation programs is a little more than lip service, IMHO, but as far as the levee system, I haven't seen anything to indicate that he denied funding requested to work on the levees as this administration did.
As far as I know, the Core of Engineers got their requested budget under Clinton.

Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
TRCSF said:
Yeah, it was known that it could happen at any time for a lot longer than 2001.

I can remember seeing news programs about how New Orleans is slowly sinking and will inevitably end up like Venice, and since it's on the Gulf Coast it's set up for a humanitarian disaster. Just like what happened.

I was going to mention that. Althought it's pretty bad that the funding for their levees was pulled, this scenario was almost inevitable no matter what they do. Building a city on a river delta is begging for eventual trouble. No levee can stop an ocean, or even just a river as voluminous as the Mississippi, from rising. The true moral I pull from this disaster is that man is doing himself a disservice by expanding his dwellings blindly into regions where cities have no business being. Just look at Malibu; when you build on a chaparral cliffside, you can't complain when you suffer from wildfires and mudslides.

One interesting thing to bring up is the fateful building of the Erie Canal back in the early nineteenth century. Before the canal was dug, New Orleans was the main point of shipping for all midwestern goods to the rest of the world, and even to the eastern seaboard. The port of New York dealt mostly in regional trade goods. As Chicago became the national hub of meatpacking, New Orleans could easily have become the preeminent port, and perhaps city of commerce in general, in the entire United States. Thanks to the building of the Erie Canal, though, it became possible to ship goods from the midwest, and especially Chicago, directly to the eastern seaboard and the Port of New York. This was the event that really precipitated the rise of New York to such a powerful city. Imagine if that had happened to New Orleans right now. Imagine New York buried under ten feet of water, the city deserted except for scattered refugees.