Sunday, August 09, 2009

The First Step to Recovery...

...Is Admitting You Have a Problem.

[I've been planning this one for a while, so set on down, grab a cup of coffee (or the vodka if you prefer to swing that way) 'cuz I gots a lot to say.]

When it comes to flood protection, too many of us haven't admitted this. Everyone in the world knows we have a bit of a drainage & elevation problem, but I'm asking how many of us in the N.O. area have been honest enough to outwardly admit that we have in fact exacerbated and even caused -- Oh yes I did say it -- our own flood protection problems. At the very least we ignore the obvious, even to the point of denial, and you only need to have watched one after-school special to know that people who are in denial are nowhere near to achieving recovery (no matter how blonde and popular you are, nor whether you're prom queen).

Ironically, it's the citizen group working to improve our flood protection system,, that has added a lot of the fuel to this fire, first with what I saw on their FAQ and Factsheet pages and then by their founder's allegations that the Corps has been unfairly attacking her and all citizens by saying that we are partly to blame for the 2005 federal flood.

Well, we are. And it's high time we stop running from that sad, uncomfortable truth. I don't believe we are to blame for the shoddy workmanship done on the levees. However, we are not idle, innocent bystanders in all of this.

Let's start with Fact #1 on the Factsheet: "The flooding of New Orleans and nearby St. Bernard Parish was an engineering disaster, not a natural disaster." Yes, the structures were poorly constructed, but the levee and canal wall failures did not happen on a clear, sunny day. They were overwhelmed by hurricane storm surge -- a.k.a. a natural disaster. Hurricane Katrina was a strong Category 3 storm as it passed New Orleans, true. We were led to believe that our flood protection structures should have withstood such a storm (or roughly, a 100 year storm), true. However, thanks to Katrina, we now know that the five-category Saffir-Simpson scale is an inadequate classification system. While New Orleans received Category 2 winds, perhaps stronger gusts, Katrina brought with her storm surge well beyond that even seen during Camille, the strongest Cat 5 we have ever seen in the U.S. with winds approaching 200 miles per hour.

Fact #2 on "Responsibility for the design and construction of the flood protection in metro New Orleans belongs solely to the US Army Corps of Engineers..." Solely? Really? Then why the required public commenting wherein they are pressured to spare volleyball courts at the cost of weakening the better designed plans presented by the Corps? What about when people insisted on putting pumps even further south of the lake (i.e., in City Park) when it is clearly in our best interests to block lake surge from intruding that far into the city?

How are WE at fault? We must shoulder part of the blame because many people here keep failing to acknowledge two key facts of life: 1) we have always been and will continue to be vulnerable to the destruction wrought by hurricanes; and 2) man can never, and I mean NEVER, guarantee that anything he builds can withstand whatever Mother Nature may send our way. Yet, just this summer the news featured coverage of people relying on updated flood maps, which are already outdated by the way, to decide whether or not to raise their homes. Let's review. Many people whose homes flooded had no flood insurance before Katrina not because they couldn't afford it but because based on the presence of a flood protection system federal maps zoned their homes as being outside of a 100 year floodplain (i.e., insurance guy told you you don't need flood insurance). OK, fine, many people didn't really understand the statistics behind 100- and 500-year storms and the variables involved, but you should now. However, many people understood back then that their neighborhoods existed only because the levee system was extended to incorporate that area of the city. even acknowledges this fact:
("...the water table was drastically lowered by the city’s drainage system and some areas settled several feet due to the consolidation of the underlying organic soils. After 1965, the US Army Corps built a system around a much larger geographic footprint that included previous marshland and swamp.")
In the weeks after the storm, I remember pissed off residents blaming "the feds" who told us we were safe behind levees. Yet here we are, going right back to where we started, with the City Council (not the Corps) not approving flood maps because doing so would require people to elevate their homes several feet...Unless they wait a couple years for the levee system to be rebuilt and the next round of flood maps putting them outside 100-year floodplains once again so they can build their houses at or very near ground level.
For some, particularly in neighborhoods such as Lakeview, the maps show their risk has abated and if the city would adopt the FEMA maps, huge savings on flood-insurance premiums would follow. But those residents will have to wait. The City Council didn't want to adopt the maps and force others in areas where flood risk has increased, like the Lower 9th Ward and parts of Gentilly, to elevate now when adequate protection should be in place in a couple of years. (T-P, 6-18-09) FAQ: Haven't N.O. residents known for years that this could happen? "No, because the Corps assured the city’s residents that they were safe from a Standard Project Hurricane (roughly equivalent to a Cat 3 Storm). New Orleans residents did not know that the flood walls could rupture 4 feet below design specs or that the floodwalls were designed to collapse if water briefly overtopped them."

[The initial post incorrectly cited IPET as the reference document from which the following info was drawn. It was actually drawn from the ILIT report. Associated hyperlinks have also been corrected.]

Our collective sin is our repeated failure to learn from the sins of our fathers and from our own disaster ridden history. The Independent Levee Investigation Team (ILIT) issued a report on July 31, 2006, did a very good job of retelling this history as part of a nearly 700-page report on the failure of our flood protection system:

Floods Inundating "Backatown" via Lake Pontchartrain
(the following lifted directly from the ILIT report [except for my commentary in brackets; bold emphases are mine]
Hurricanes strike the Louisiana Coast with a mean frequency of two every three years (Kolb and Saucier, 1982). Since 1759, 172 hurricanes have struck southern Louisiana (Shallat, 2000). Of these, 38 have caused flooding in New Orleans, usually via Lake Pontchartrain. Some of the more notable events have included: 1812, 1831, 1860, 1893, 1915, 1940, 1947, 1965, 1969, and 2005. [ILIT report, pp. 4-9 to 4-11]
  1. "The Great Louisiana Hurricane" of August 9, 1812. It rolled over the barrier islands and drowned Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes and the area around Barataria Bay [pay attention too, Westbankers] under 15 feet of water. The parade ground at Fort St. Phillip was inundated by 8 feet of water and the shoreline along Lake Pontchartrain was similarly inundated, though this was far enough below the French Quarter to spare any flooding of the City.
  2. In June 1821 easterly winds surged off Lake Pontchartrain and pushed up Bayou St. John, flooding fishing villages and spilling into North Rampart Street until the winds abated and allowed the water to drain back into the lake. It was an ominous portent of things to come.
  3. On August 16, 1831 "The Great Barbados Hurricane" careened across the Caribbean, striking the Louisiana coast west of New Orleans. The area south of town was again inundated by storm surge, while a three foot surge entered the city from Lake Pontchartrain.
  4. Southeastern Louisiana suffered through three hurricanes during the summer and fall of 1860. On August 8th a fast moving hurricane swept 20 feet of water into Plaquemines Parish. The third hurricane struck on October 2nd making landfall west of New Orleans. It inundated Plaquemines, St. Bernard, and Barataria, causing a significant storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain which destroyed 20 lakeside settlements, washing out a portion of the New Orleans and Jackson Great Northern Railroad. Surge from this storm overtopped the banks along the Old and New Basin drainage canals and a levee along Bayou St. John gave way, allowing the onrushing water to flood a broad area extending across the back side of New Orleans.
  5. In 1871 three hurricanes caused localized flooding, which proved difficult to drain. Flooding emanating from storm surges on Lake Pontchartrain during these storms overtopped the Hagen Avenue drainage canal between Bayou St. John and New Basin Canal [present day Lafitte Avenue] spilling flood waters into the Mid-City area. City Engineer W. H. Bell warned the city officials about the potential dangers posed by the drainage canals leading to Lake Pontchartrain, because the Mid-City area lay slightly below sea level.
  6. The record hurricane of October 2, 1893 passed south of New Orleans and generated winds of 100 mph and a storm surge of 13 feet, which drowned more than 2,000 people in Jefferson Parish, completely destroying the settlements on the barrier island of Cheniere Caminada. This represented the greatest loss of life ascribable to any natural disaster in the United States up until that time.
  7. In August 1900, a hurricane passed directly over Galveston, TX, demolishing that city and killing between 6,000 and 8,000 people, which remains the deadliest natural disaster in American history. Prior to impacting Galveston, that hurricane tracked westerly parallel to the Gulf Coast about 150 miles south of New Orleans. Its flood surges were noted along the Gulf Coast, including Lake Pontchartrain's south shore (Cline, 1926) [sounds kinda like Rita and Ike, don't it? We're vulnerable even if a storm just passes south of us on the way to Texas! Still hard for me to wrap my mind around this phenomenon.]
  8. Prior to Katrina's landfall in 2005, the most damaging hurricane to impact New Orleans was the Grand Isle Hurricane of September 29, 1915, a Category 4 event which produced winds as great as 140 miles per hour at Grand Isle. It slowed as it made landfall and eventually passed over Audubon Park, seriously damaging structures across New Orleans. Electrical power was knocked out, preventing the City's new pumps from functioning [sound familiar?]. The wave crest height on Lake Pontchartrain rose to 13 ft, easily overtopping 6-foot high shoreline levee, destroying the lakefront villages of Bucktown (at the end of 17th Street Canal), West End, Spanish Fort, and Lakeview (these lakeside settlements were swallowed up by the infilling of the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline in 1928-31). The drainage canals were also overtopped, flooding the city behind Claiborne, leaving Mid-City and Canal Street under several feet of water. This storm overwhelmed the City's defenses so quickly that 275 people were killed, mostly in the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline zone.
  9. On September 19, 1947 an unnamed hurricane made landfall near the Chandeleur Islands [remember those?]
    A storm surge of 9.8ft reached Shell Beach on Lake Borgne. The runways at Moisant Airport were covered by 2 ft of water while Jefferson Parish was flooded to depths of 3+ ft. Sewage from an overwhelmed S&WB treatment plant stagnated in some of the drainage canals, producing sulfuric acid fumes that caused staining of lead-based paint on some of the homes in the Lakeview area, leaving them with unsightly black blotches
    [I've never heard this before]. 51 people drowned and New Orleans suffered more than $100 million in damages. City officials were unable to clear floodwaters through the drainage canals in the Lakeview, Gentilly, and Metairie neighborhoods for nearly two weeks. [hmm, I have this strange feeling of deja vu, like this has happened before]. This was the first significant hurricane to strike New Orleans which generated a large body of reliable storm surge data, which was subsequently used in design of flood protection works by the Corps of Engineers. The New Orleans Times-Picayune prepared a map that showed reported depths and locations of flooding in the 1947 hurricane.

A couple more important nuggets of history which some of us seem hellbent on repeating:

[In the 1870s!] New Orleans City Surveyor W.H. Bell warned of the potential dangers posed by the big outfall drainage canals. He told city officials to place pumping stations on the lakeshore, otherwise “heavy storms would result in water backup within the canals, culminating in overflow into the city.” This prophetic warning was ignored with catastrophic results during Hurricane Katrina. (p. 4-16)

By the time the Corps got involved [between 1955 & 1960], a dense network of single family residences abutted the drainage canals along their entire courses (the canals are 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 miles long). The encroachment of these homes adjacent to the canal embankments circumvented any possibility of using conventional methods to heighten the levees, which is usually accomplished by adding compacted earth on the land-side of the levees (Figure 4.23, which would require the condemnation and removal of hundreds of residences, which would be costly and time-consuming (not to mention unprecedented). (p. 4-22)

As far as I'm concerned, the previous point merits the most reflection. The feds and Corps did not build our homes right alongside outfall drainage canals. Those drained marshland pioneers may not have comprehended fully the implication of building their homes where they did. But now, we do. And we have to really think about what it means, not just to us personally but to the rest of the citizens who will be flooded from a breach of the floodwall in our backyards, when we object to the Corps appropriating 6 feet of our backyards to widen levee foundations or secure them from tree roots and whatnots that compromise the levees. WE are the ones with the power to tell the Corps how much land we are willing to cede to protect this great City, just like WE were the ones who limited the scope of the first round of levees which failed so catastrophically -- under the force of the Category 5 storm surge of a naturally occurring hurricane.

Let the hate mail begin!!


Charles London said...


swiftone said...

Hate mail? Sounds a most reasonable wake up call to me.

GentillyGirl said...

Darlin', I completely agree with you on this. That's the reason that even though we are on the edge of the Esplanade Ridge we raised to 9 ft.

We have no illusions about the future possibilities.

charlotte said...

Bravo, EJ!

Sandy Rosenthal said... stands by its assertion that the citizens of metro New Orleans are not partly responsible for the flood protection failures on August 29, 2005. There is no evidence, beyond unverified verbal accounts by Army Corps spokespersons, that local citizens "limited the scope of the first round of levees which failed so catastrophically" during Katrina. agrees that no 100% guarantee can be promised for flood protection safety. Holland, which provides 100 times better flood protection than Congress provides New Orleans, still admits there is a 1/100 of a per cent chance each year that the flood protection won't be good enough to protect the people.

We also stand by our assertion that responsibility for the design and construction of the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity flood protection belongs - by federal mandate in the Flood Control Act of 1965 - solely to our Army Corps.

Finally, we stand by our assertion that allegations in a 3-page sworn affidavit by Founder Jon Donley thoroughly validate our suspicions of a deception campaign being waged by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Funfacts: Actually the IPET was not independent, was not introduced 7-31-06 and was not 700 pages. The IPET was led and managed by our Army Corps, was introduced 6-1-06 and was 3,000 pages.

We hope to see both our supporters and critics at Rising Tide IV where we will sponsor the Early Riser Breakfast.

New Orleans Ladder said...

We should definitely ask Harry about this.
I know I've read many times on his Huff Blog where he responded to correct: "Katrina passed New Orleans as a Strong 2 or Weak 3."
I am still researching his posts but he said this many times based on his own data cited, usually the Team Louisiana or ILIT report, which incidentally is where your link goes --Not the IPET, that $23,000,000 extremely late term still born piece of Corps ASCE'fuck.

I don't know whether you meant to mislabel your link or what, but the Irony either way is that ILIT was done by Robert Bea and the Berkley team, at a fraction of the IPET time and costs, and much as a result of the Corps own study of its own failures, and their subsequent bias towards natural disaster and away from inherent and preventable engineering failures.
Isn't that Ironic? Those levees failed from beneath, below design specifications --not storm surge. Ha! Whudda'thunkit dunkit?

But I trust everyone of the commentators have followed that link to ILIT and read the Executive Summary. If not then please do so and then dive into the entire report. Take your time, kick of your shoes. It is a big complicated story, much much more than is presented here.
Here is the ILIT link, in case EJ made a mistake and changes it to the actual IPET Thing.

This ILIT study lays a lot of blame in many places, but the cause of 80% of the flooding of New Orleans 8/29/05 is still indisputably the Corps of Engineers failure to get it right the first time --NOT Katrina storm surge. The ILIT study pretty much devastates that misnomer. That is a Dead Red Pelican.

But we can ask Harry this and I think he'll probably tell you the same thing. Ask Harry if he thinks the flood walls at the 17th Street, London and Industrial canals failed due to storm surge or catastrophic engineering failure. Hell, for that matter ask the Corps! pretty much put to bed your cutsy'thing thing so I don't need to go there.

My main thing here is your last statement regarding expected hate mail. I am sorry you feel that way about your points of reference. Your arguments aren't That weak, albeit they are pretty damn weak.
But a rising tide floats all kinda boats, eh? I suppose we'll see on the 22nd.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

Tim said...


Thanks for a rational perspective on the whole issue.

It's so disappointing that some still want to debate whether Hurricane Katrina was a Category 2 or a Category 3. One of the biggest lessons we learned in 2005 is that the hurricane "Category" is based only on wind speed. It tells us nothing about the radius, the storm surge, or the danger of flooding we face from that hurricane. But for those engaged in cutesy banter, there is endless pleasure is trying to pretend Katrina was just another rainy, windy day. The undisputed fact is just as you stated it: Katrina brought the largest storm surge in the recorded history of Louisiana.

Yet we still hear calls for more investigations, as if another set of eyes on the geotechnical reports used to design the failed canal walls will suddenly discover some previously unnoticed scribble that proves it was all planned to fail from the beginning. It’s amazing that some of the same people who criticize the Corps for spending too much time doing studies are now lobbying for yet another study of why we flooded. It would be laughable if it was not so wasteful and distracting.

Were there engineering failures? Absolutely. No one disputes that. Were there inadequacies in funding? Yes. No one disputes that. Short-sighted planning? Failure to incorporate new knowledge? Failure to design and operate the plethora of projects as a system? Yes, yes and yes.

I’ve also blogged about some of my concerns as we rebuild this city. I think the 1% annual chance of exceedence for design of a life-safety system is entirely inadequate. When you compare that to what other advanced countries are doing, we as a nation should be embarrassed by such low standards.

But your point is essential to the recovery of this region. Your point is that we all own a part in this and we all share responsibility to make it work. Lumping all the blame and the responsibility to fix everything entirely on the Federal government is not the solution.

Our vulnerability to flooding is both a product of minimal Federal flood control measures AND the refusal of local communities to take actions that would reduce the risk of flooding. For instance, local governments continue to allow rebuilding houses that flooded in Katrina in the lowest parts of the city. Several of my neighbors in Gentilly repaired and moved right back into their homes with the permission and encouragement of the city—even though every house on the block is below the Pre-Katrina Base Flood Elevation.

Have we failed to learn anything? As you note, EJ, until we admit we have a problem, we cannot recover. As I see it, we can either argue endlessly about woulda, coulda, shoulda, or we can resolve to move forward together. I appreciate your wise and thoughtful view of the situation.



New Orleans Ladder said...

sloooolwy I toin!
Step by step...inch by inch...

[It's so disappointing that some (you tawkin'ta me?)( Shearer?)(???) still want to debate whether Hurricane Katrina was a Category 2 or a Category 3.]
Sorry Tim, but Lustrous Blogger laid that one out, not me, as the opening premise here that Storm Strength, ergo Surge, caused the Flooding of New Orleans, which is patently incorrect as your own Corps can attest to regarding their failed structures.
This is still important because you can't keep trying to misdirect the public's attention away from the cause of those engineering failures.
Why the big push to retell the story of the Flood? I don't understand. This is elementary school stuff.

The lustrous blogger states:
[Hurricane Katrina was a strong Category 3 storm as it passed New Orleans, true. ]
That is in dispute enough, as you admit, to be effectively False. Again, I say we ask Harry when he gets here. I do wonder what he would say to this New Spin away from the true causes of the Flood of '05.
It's not Mother Nature.
It't The Levees Stupid.

[Have we failed to learn anything? As you note, EJ, until we admit we have a problem, we cannot recover. As I see it, we can either argue endlessly about woulda, coulda, shoulda, or we can resolve to move forward together. I appreciate your wise and thoughtful view of the situation.]
Yes I admit that we do have a problem here.
The Corps really Coulda, they damn surely shoulda, imagine life now if they had just woulda been contendas!

Lustrous blogger's erroneous conclusion:
[just like WE were the ones who limited the scope of the first round of levees which failed so catastrophically -- under the force of the Category 5 storm surge of a naturally occurring hurricane.]
That is False. It is directly contradicted in the ILIT report to which lustrous blogger has linked erroneously.
Those flood walls in St Bernard and NO East failed because your Corps of Engineers incorrectly used the bad soils from MRGO dredging for the levee filler, which incidentally is part of the greater problem created by your corps' continued expansion of MRGO that coastal destroyer.
Those "first round of levees" (EJ) failed because your corps screwed them in the first place. While this UASCE'fuck contributed to a greater storm surge, The Facts are that the Industrial Canal failed due to preventable engineering failures --not the Dead Red Pelican of Storm Surge. That is an Incorrect PR Meme which must be laid to rest right here, before you can even begin to address a rising tide.

The fact is that the 17th Street flood wall breached with Half the load. It had nothing to do with a "Strong Cat 3 Storm", but everything to do with your corps' inherent incompetence in not building correctly in the first place.
All these other perimeters of influence do not factor into the basic successful engineering of those flood walls and levees.

I appreciate your wise and thoughtful view of the situation.
Yes we are all part of the Solution, though "some still want..." to be part of the Problem.
Information is part of the Solution. Spin is part of the Problem.

Everyone is welcome to their Opinions, Tim, no matter how smarmy, but not their own Facts.
I can certainly appreciate your Opinion of the efficacy of this ongoing debate of Corps responsibility. However the facts on the ground today speak louder that we should be paying more attention to the Corps Work on our flood protection.
Popping out a blog post of misstatements innuendo and out the other is not the way to move this discussion along.

I look forward to your retart.

One piece at a time,
Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I'm more concerned about questions raised here like EJ's Fact # 2. Volleyball courts and inland pumps? City councils not accepting flood maps? Continuing to build like nothing happened?

Once you accept that a flood did, in fact, happen here; and that no future plan is risk-free, how do you move forward? And if you move forward in suspect ways, how do you defend your policies if a flood does happen again?

I surely thought there would be more talk of moving homes away from canal walls (or digging the canals deeper), making sure all pumping stations had adequate power and personnel protection for storm events, and updated building codes (and effective grants to get it done).

But it seems that particular line of thinking in EJ's post is ignored in favor of arguing over citations.

New Orleans Ladder said...

Hi Cousin Pat,
I didn't address "Fact" #2 because it is a red herring. The Vollyball Folks came en mass to have their voices heard. They were invited, with other actual stakeholders in Lakeview.
To presume that such "pressure" would effect even the Corps Bad Engineering is ludicrous of EJ and rhetorically lazy. Right, Volleyball courts. Riiiight.
However, it is total misnomer, to attempt to connect their critiques with the actual installation of Option 1, which the Corps appears to have been moving towards all along despite these faux public meetings.
The biggest problem I have with the Corps' Option 1 (among many) is that it does not allow for any repair of the existing old flood wall and levee of the 17th Street Canal --which Failed Below Design Load during when hurricane Katrina missed the city by nearly 40 miles.
Should the tandem pump system the Corps envisions fail (quite possible) then the canals will fill up, especially if the storm just sits on top of the city. Remember, the 17th Street levee failed catastrophically at Half Load.

Another dead misnomer is this notion that the critics of the Corps have "out studied" the Corps. Pure misdirection there since to date the Corps has wracked up nearly $50,000,000 dollars of studies regarding our flood protection since they flooded the New Orleans.
Can anyone seriously with a straight face bite that hot dog? Not me, especially when the 8/29 Investigation would cost allegedly a cool $5 Million --oh, ironically what the Corps has contracted to pay OPP, their latest PR firm, to fondle the news media, redesign their website and run these faux meet'n'greets.
$5 Million in flood funding for PR hacks.
Jeez Louie!
I just love the way this post and subsequent discussion actually justify such further study as the 8/29 Investigation. Obviously "It's so disappointing that some still want to..." re-spin this broken record right here on the eve of destruction.
Go figure...go fish!

Thank you,
Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Howdy, Editilla,

Even if the volleyball courts are a "red herring," you still don't address the city councils not adopting flood elevation maps or the continuation of building structures as if nothing happened. Those are very specific intersections of risk and local public policy that affects flood protection.

This would seem especially true if your problem with Option 1 is that the drainage canal walls will remain the same.

New Orleans Ladder said...

Hi Pat,
it isn't my job to "address" each of EJ's incomplete statements. Where do you get that?
I am not the "hate mail" he's looking for, it ain't me babe.

The "Updated flood maps" are more than likely based on data of HAZUS-MH Multi-Hazard Loss Estimation Methodology Program.
Many cities across the country are refusing to accept the flood zone designations FEMA lays out, based often on this complicated modeling system which was initially an Earthquake modeling system until OPP started re-packaging and selling it for flood surge mitigation for the NFIP. (remember OPP, the corps's $5 Million Rosemary's Baby?) But there again, you can't use the NFIP issues to address the Corps issues. The former is about Insuring Risks while the latter is supposed to be about Engineering Competency.

So if you can show me specifically where and why the city refused any of these updated maps I'd be happy to take a crack at it. But again, that really should be EJ's job as the author of the post to clarify what he is talking about, and also whether he is talking about the IPET or linking to ILIT or whateva.

Ya'know, people are doing what they can to hold on to what they have left in the City That Care Forgot and the Corps Tried To Kill.
It may be a vacant slab or the remains of the home in which they were raised and were raising their next generation of mominems.
Many people can only afford what they can afford, so they will do what they can to keep their place in the greatest city in America --damn the levees. They just don't have anywhere else to go, or their job isn't as solid as working for the Corps hence they can't afford to move to higher ground.
I find galling such presumption on the part of anyone to think New Orleanians are going about their own recovery scenarios with anything like your stated apathy "as if nothing happened".
This is not something I have seen among the people I know who are rebuilding their lives and property.
Frankly I find such bourgeois naivete offensive, and on the level of much of the other more vitriolic hate-commentary directed at the citizens of New Orleans as they try to do what they can to rebuild after the Corps flooded our city.

Option 1 is a game of hot potato. Option 2 is superior, and we have only the Corps costs over-estimates which for are notoriously unsound. But since you bring it up, your intersection of Risk and Public Policy also has nothing what so ever to do with basic sound engineering and project scheduling. Nada.
It is another Misdirection of Marketing by the Corps in that, sound engineering principles are not at all about the Risk of Failure but the Expectations of Success based on the Engineers Verifiable Abilities. We do not have this with the Corps of Engineers. Their engineering ethos was laid bare on 8/29/05. They failed.

But more specifically, the just compensation of Lakeview property owners has nothing to do with the fact that I could see daylight half-way up from the ground of the crumbling joint compound between appx 30 sections of the 17th Street flood wall which will not be repaired under Option 1. Option 2 addresses this glaring problem, this Real Risk of Failure, this flood wall which breached on 8/29 AT HALF LOAD.
I challenge anyone to walk the 17th Street Canal flood wall, as have I many times, and look closely. Stick your fingers into the crumbling joint compound. I'm not even addressing the bad soil beneath. And BTW, if anyone does drop by there, please do let us know if it is still leaking salt-water at the "repaired" Breach.

So, Pat, we are back to square one: Bad Engineers and the people who would defend them. I call them Freak O'lay Corps Defenders, or FOCD.

Thank you,
Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Howdy Editilla,

If square one is "bad engineers and the people who would defend them," then we haven't come a very long way. We can discuss the past until we're blue in the face, and all the litigation appeals have expired, but we cannot change it. What is important to me is how we move forward with practical solutions.

Going with Option 1 over Option 2 is the very definition of public policy intersecting with risk. How can we get to Option 2, and if we can't get there, what do we do locally to mitigate the risk of Option 1?

As far as the "apathy" thing, if that's what you got out of my words, then we have a rather severe miscommunication occuring here that I'd rather not continue. My first knee-jerk reaction of "what an interesting way to dismiss legitimate concerns" would not have led to a productive discussion, I am sure. We obviously read very different things in EJ's post.

New Orleans Ladder said...

Hey Pat,
I'm not going to get into a thing with you over your own words, or EJ over his spit-balling facts, but suffice to say many people seem to beg do differ with this ASCECORPS Spin'filtration:
But don't just take my word for it:
[Jarvis is 100% accurate that myths are created for a reason.

In the days, weeks and months after the levees broke, Army Corps spokespersons handed the American people a myth-packet. It included local political corruption, city in a bowl 20 feet below sea level, big bad storm, lazy citizens with no flood insurance, but most of all, the corrupt Orleans Levee Board.

Since the OLB was undeniably questionable, it was a cinch to convince our nation that the New Orleans people brought their woes upon themselves. End of chapter. But not end of story.

Almost four years later, the truth is inexorably surfacing, like for example, half of New Orleans is at or well above sea level. And that the Army Corps had a spectacular failure of its levee system over which it had sole responsibility of design and construction. The Corps feared loss of its formidable power if not its very existence. So a deception campaign by the Corps and its consultancy community began literally the day the levees broke and continues today.

The American people deserve the 8/29 Investigation Act, a truly independent analysis of the flood protection failures on August 29, 2005 - and the organizational component - in metro New Orleans.

HJ Bosworth Jr. - research director
Sandy Rosenthal - founder]

Thanks to all of you for coming forward to address this glaring, on-going nola'blogger asce'fork of what went down in New Orleans on 8/29/05/

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder