# Suprising article I found in a 2001 Secientific American.

1. Mar 15, 2006

### scott1

I was looking at some secientific armeicans that one of my neighbors gave me and found a very suprising article.It said that "A hurricane powerful enough coul damage New Orleans leves and flood New Orleans" and it was form 2001!:surprised :surprised :surprised:It looked like the exact same thing that happend to New Orleans!:surprised:

I think probally would be better in skeptism & debunking can a mod move it?

Last edited: Mar 15, 2006
2. Mar 15, 2006

### Cyrus

What is so surprising about that?

3. Mar 15, 2006

### rachmaninoff

There used to be (late 90's I recall?) a whole documentary on the [former] Discovery Channel [deceased] about the disaster scenario of a hurricane storm surge into New Orleans, describing the effects of various categories of hurricanes and their expected effects. No one well-informed was surprised by this.

4. Mar 15, 2006

### moose

If there isn't a problem RIGHT NOW, then nobody wants to fix it. It's just how it is.

5. Mar 15, 2006

### Pengwuino

Confirmation bias.

I wonder how many people's hands I'd need to outline a scenario that whipes out thousands of people in a San Andreas earthquake. Of course, it sounds ludacrous to demand tremendous changes and earthquake proofing of every building in California...until it actually happens and then all of a sudden it's "why didn't we do that! it was so obvious!"

6. Mar 15, 2006

### franznietzsche

What's surprising is that people think this is noteworthy, not that it was the case. There was speculation about terrorrists using planes to crash into buildings almost a decade before 9/11. The 1987 Loma Prieta quake, when a double decker freeway collapsed? Its not like whole cities hadn't been wiped out before by earthquakes in California. And this was not the first time New Orleans has been under more than 10 feet of water due to a Hurricane.

What this really is, is sensational irrational finger pointing. "OH MY GOD!! Someone thought this might happen!! And noone jumped on that and fixed it!! Incompetence!!!" Please. If the government were to jump on every single safety report like it actually cared, it would grind to stop and go even more bankrupt. And besides, where were all the concerned citizens demanding action before hand? I don't remember any of them demanding action about this before it happened. They have no right to complain then.

The only, legitimate complaint is about how the government acted once they knew the Hurricane was coming. All this moaning "They knew!! They knew!! Incompetence!!" is absurd.

7. Mar 15, 2006

### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Well, it was more a case of cutting taxes among other things - but it comes down to politics and lack of integrity.

8. Mar 16, 2006

### Mk

Righty-o, a learned skeptic!

9. Mar 16, 2006

### Pengwuino

Would you like to elaborate on this.

10. Mar 16, 2006

### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Money, means and know how were available to fix the levees in New Orleans, but those responsible for taking such action decided to put efforts elsewhere. Lousiana and New Orleans politics have been notoriously corrupt.

In addition, at the Federal level, the Corp of Engineers knew what needed to be done, but other matters had priority. Cutting taxes (a popular theme beginning with Reagan) necessarily meant reducing budgets or otherwise limiting the projects that were done, some of which, like the levees and drainage around New Orleans were necessary.

It's just a matter of priorities and responsibility. It's akin to a family spending their disposable income on a vacation rather than fixing a leaking plumbing system or roof, and then wondering why the house is falling down around them.

But the US did have $billions for Star Wars/SDI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Defense_Initiative) and about ~$125 billion to bail out the Savings and Loan industry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_and_loan_crisis
http://www.fdic.gov/bank/historical/s&l/

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
11. Mar 16, 2006

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
There's a difference between knowing the levees could breach if there was a Cat 5 hurricane, and thinking such a storm would actually hit. Everyone has always known N.O. was built in a bowl prone to flooding and the levees protected it, somewhat, from that. And when the levees were built, they knew what they had designed them to do.

Rebuilding levees is not something done overnight either, so even if in 2001, someone knew there was a potential problem, that there was a trend for storms getting more intense and likely exceeding the tolerance limits of the existing leveees, it still takes time to plan to reinforce them and actually do the construction. And, what happens in the section under construction when a hurricane hits?

Hurricanes are natural, and sometimes humans lose the battle against nature. That there was a chance the city could be destroyed by a very powerful hurricane is hardly the issue. What the issue really was is how it was handled in terms of the people living there when it became known that such a hurricane really was on the way. Planning ahead for evacuations is something that was within the control of those in charge, the hurricane itself was not.

12. Mar 16, 2006

### Pengwuino

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: Ain't that the truth!

I believe that the priorities were probably the culprit here. On the state level, it's probably much less of an issue since local security should be a big priority on the state and local level. The federal level though, has a lot of things to be worrying about and of course, all sorts of international issues as well. It's all about seeing 20/20 in hind-sight. It's like that whole thing on 9/11. Some relatively obscure note comes out about possible terrorist activity (god knows how much activity was pointed out as possible terrorist activity in the first place) and people act like the FBI should have dedicated satellites to following this person.

In hind-sight, everything seems like we missed the big hints in disasters like these... but it's always in hind-sight. It's also helpful to look at the whole picture. How many times have hurricanes and storms hit where our various levels of government acted correctly and no one died, etc etc. People make mistakes, especially government employees :rofl:

13. Mar 16, 2006

### daveb

Also, it says a hurricane powerful enough. An earthquake powerful enough could cause ALL buildings in Los Angeles to collapse - it's just a question of how powerful that earthquake needs to be. As Moonbear pointed out, though, you can't control what nature throws at you, only how you react to it.

14. Mar 16, 2006

### RandallB

Even better than Sci-Am check out a copy of National Geograpic Oct 2004, page 92. They did a fair job of discribing the event a year before it happened.
But maybe some local preparation can be done, like move your buses to high ground, or add a couple pages on how to use them in an evacuation plan.

Not that no preparations were made at all. In the second column of the article you’ll see where the Red Cross had made some advance preparations – seems they Stopped putting in Hurricane Shelters – the risk to workers was too great! No wonder many are not moving back to quick.

15. Mar 16, 2006

### daveb

I agree, but preparation is part of how you react (in this case proactively).

16. Mar 16, 2006

### ComputerGeek

What is surprising is not the knowledge that tit COULD happen, but the fact that when we had a high probability of it landing in NO 3 days before it made landfall, the DHS sat on their hands.... I am careful not to blame Bush because he did sign the papers to get the feds in there, even though he really did not take it as serious as he should have nor had he reacted afterwords as he should have (recall in 2004 when a hurricane hit Florida.. Bush was there the next day)

DHS killed all those people who had survived the flooding and died the week after from lack of care. DHS killed all the poor who died due to lack of evacuation protocols being started.

The City and State governments' only mistake was having faith that they could count on support from DHS like they had counted on FEMA before when it was a cabinet level post.

17. Mar 16, 2006

### Pengwuino

Yah we're still not at that stage to where we can control the weather. One thing everyone should realize is that once you ignore political rantings and extremism, this hurricane was not a disaster at all relatively. I mean if you build your city below sea level, have piss poor local governments managing things, and put 500,000 people in the city... something is going to happen soon enough. As has already been thoroughly discussed, new orleans can blame itself for what happened even though many left wing extremists cry that it's the feds fault.

Why blame the people when you can blame someone else. Remember, your legs only work when the government tells them to start working.

18. Mar 17, 2006

### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
That NO would be hit by Cat 4 or 5 hurricane is/was inevitable, and perhpas many are guilty of hoping the inevitable would never happen. The levees and drainage should have been done differently along time ago, but Federal and State governments seldom work well in tandem - although certainly programs like TVA seem to work. The design of levees and canals were inadequate for the predictable surges. On the other hand, it is only in the last 10 or so years that the models have become sufficiently sophisticated to elucidate the potential problems.

Beyond the levees were the pump stations, which were knowingly inadequate.

Likely NO will get another Cat 4/5 and then another, perhaps at least one every 10 years or so. Let's what happens this year if Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf temperatures become similarly warm.

True, but potential problems were known many years before that. Certainly knowing that the levees might fail, the various governments should have had a sound evacuation plan. Even the National Guard got caught off-guard and was flooded out. If anyone should have been prepared, the National Guard should have been - that's there function!

We can anticipate conditions of storms and earthquakes. My company specializes in predictive analysis and our models can should when and where any structure is deficient. Others can do the same.

Buildings and many key structures in California are built to certain seismic standards. The most powerful earthquakes would likely cause failure, but the probability might be very low that such an earthquake would occur, or at least ground accelerations at the particular building site might be limited.

Buildings can be built to withstand high winds. When I was an iron worker, I worked on a Federal project at an oil refinery in which we constructed a building to withstand > 150 mph winds! Nearby houses were not, and they would have been demolished in such a storm, but our building would still be standing. The Federal government spared no expense on that project.

As for the Federal government not have the money, it seems that they can find money for S&L bailout, Strategic defense initiative, various corporate subsidies, various highway projects, the war in Iraq at ~\$100 billion/yr.

19. Mar 17, 2006

### Tom Mattson

Staff Emeritus
That does happen a lot. I was born at 12:57am on 12/25/72. It seems that more often than not when I look at a digital clock, it reads 12:57. Do I really look at clocks more often at those two times of day, or do I just notice it more? Hmmm....

20. Mar 17, 2006

### Pengwuino

I see 12:34 a lot for some reason :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: