August 28, 2008

"Did the Corps fix the levees?, Is my house going to flood again?... Am I going to have to go through all this again?"

Anxiety in New Orleans.

ADDED: Storm preparation... for the GOP convention.

51 comments:

Peter V. Bella said...

I was listening to a news broadcast this morning. It seems that Jindal is on top of things and has a plan in place, ready to be executed, if the hurricane is about to strike; unlike his predecessor, who did nothing and blamed everyone.

It is all inclusive and makes use of the emergency services and the National Guard to force an orderly evacuation of areas in the path or in danger of flooding.

Beth said...

"Did the Corps fix the levees?"

Simple question, simple answer: no.

That's a work in progress, and it's not going well.

They've added flood gates at the mouths of the canals connecting to the lake -- that's good, and something that's been thwarted in the past by environmentalists, foolishly.

They put pumps right behind the gates, in those canals. But they bought the pumps from a politically connected company despite the pumps being faulty. Thus they had to spend months of engineering efforts and lots of money retooling them. That's slowed things down and there's no way to tell if the fix was good until they're tested by nature.

Inexplicably, some people who live along the canals are resisting efforts to remove trees; the Corps believes the trees can be pulled up by hurricane winds, and their roots will tear out chunks of the levee walls. The residents are nostaligic about their trees. They will lose the fight and should just cope. There's other more important things to be done.

The corps continues to be challenged by engineers wanting them to publish and prove their calculations, and the corps resists. They're still fudging about how high canal walls should be, and how to test soil strength and stupid things like that. That's a big problem.

There's no gate on the Industrial Canal, so storm surge can overtop it. And the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet remains open, and can send tons of water into the lower parishes. Big problem.

I'm putting a lot of faith in the pumps and gates. The canal walls are still weak, so the pumps and gates must do their jobs to keep the water from undermining the walls.

Beth said...

unlike his predecessor, who did nothing and blamed everyone

Jindal's doing a fine job and I'm pleased and relieved. But your second comment is wrong -- absolutely. It shows your ignorance of the events, and your willingness to buy into the narrative handed you by your political sources.

rhhardin said...

I love the Imus/McGuirk Nagin interviews real audio (nine clips)

You won't be hearing them again. Imus has hunckered down. There's nothing amusing about any black person for today's shows.

Beth said...

rhhardin,

I'm so sorry that hurricane humor isn't amusing anymore. What a loss for you.

rdkraus said...

Still IS pretty funny.

Build a city below sea level.

Get a big storm.

Flood everyone out.

Everyone move back in to the below sea level city.

More rain.

Hey, where my Gub'mint money?

I guess it would be funny if it wasn't so f---------- stupid.



Imus, on the other hand, is now not allowed to say anything funny. Show is still ok, but, really, if this was what it always was, you never would have heard of him. It's AA Imus, he goes to AA and has an AA hiring program.

Simon said...

Beth, I know you've mentioned that you and your partner have an escape plan, but could you speak to what your sense is of where the city - both the people are the relevant municipal, county and state authorities - are in terms of evacuation preparedness should that become necessary, and disaster management should there be trouble that falls short of catastrophe? Sorry to treat you as eyes and ears on the scene, but I trust your perspective.

Ann Althouse said...

Beth, have you left the city? Take care.

Simon said...

Let me also say, it seems cynical to talk about how the convention needs to respond if problems occur, but don't they have to think about that, to have a plan? It would border on malpractice not to have some kind of plan to deal with the news cycle that would follow a hurricane hitting NOLA the day that President Bush speaks to the party.

MadisonMan said...

Forecast trends are for a more Rita-ish path.

rhhardin said...

It's incompetence humor, not hurricane humor.

The only hurricane joke I know is actually a wife joke.

Beth said...

MMan, I hate the "hope it hits someone else" part but it's inescapable.

I, too, find the speculation about how it might affect the GOP convention annoying, and crass. No one local is excited about making hay over any possibly embarrassing scenario there, and local bloggers and commenters (mostly liberal/progressive) have been leaving some scathing comments over at various Kos diaries that have raised that issue as if it's something to be happy about.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"Forecast trends are for a more Rita-ish path."

Rita came into the gulf north of cuba while Gustav's coming in via the southern route. I'm no meteorologist, but doesn't that suggest quite different trajectories?

rhhardin said...

Aha, the hurricane joke (real audio).

Thank heaven I saved it.

paul a'barge said...

Am I going to have to go through this again?

Yes, you ridiculous mutt. You guaranteed that when you either moved back or refused to get out.

You chose to live in a flood plain, in a state dominated by corrupt politics and ineptness and populated by willfully uneducated people world-famous for making poor life choices.

Taste the salt water.

rhhardin said...

There's a very nice podcast on price gouging laws, a personal experience after a hurricane, at econtalk.org

here.

It will prepare you for the media's economic illiteracy deluge after the storm.

Peter V. Bella said...

Beth said...
But your second comment is wrong -- absolutely. It shows your ignorance of the events, and your willingness to buy into the narrative handed you by your political sources.

I do not get narratives from political sources. As to my comment I will stand by it. I received the information from the good people of New Orleans. I was assigned to assist in relief efforts for the refugees from New Orleans who came to Chicago. I talked to very many of them over a three day period. They were almost unanimous in blaming the mayor of New Orleans and the Governor, along with the Feds, for the poor planning prior to the hurricane striking.


As to your current situation, I wish you the best.

bleeper said...

I always thought that no one should be allowed to return to NO unless they bring a truck load of dirt back with them. If enough people did that, the city could be raised above sea level.

Ok, that's just smart-assedness - there is no way that city will stop subsiding, and in every sense, it is, and shall always remain, below sea level.

MadisonMan said...

Simon, I should have said landfall, not path.

Too many jims said...

Beth,

I have many extended family in the area (my name ends with an x and is pronounced with an o). All I can say is you, they and all those in the path are in my prayers. Take good care.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

New Orleans is the birthplace of my father and we lived in the French Quarter for some time when I was a very small child, so I have fond memories of the city and consider the culture (music, food, literature) that comes from the Big Easy a crown jewel of American culture.

However, the city has become a huge liability for the rest of the U.S. because of the dangerous, precarious, sinking daily below sea level location. The refusal of people to help themselves and put obstacles in the path of those who are trying to help, as Beth detailed, is frustrating and baffling to the rest of us.

Life is precarious. I live next to several live volcanoes and expect to experience an earthquake any day. I also don't expect that the government has any way to stop these natural events or has any responsibility to make my life as it was before a disaster happens. It is my choice to live where I do. You takes your chances.


We have had hurricanes for millenniums Hurakan is the name of a Mayan God.

So the answers to the questions in the title are No, the levees are not "fixed". Yes, this will happen again. And again. And again.

Live with it it or move.

And stay safe Beth and friends.

Cedarford said...

"Did the Corps fix the levees?, Is my house going to flood again?... Am I going to have to go through all this again?"

The sub-sea dwellers almost sound like a clan of morons that decided to build on the slopes of an active volcano and somehow got their "nation's guarantee" that no matter what happens, they have a pledge "we will make you whole again".

Unlike lesser American people that live in 100-year flood plains told it would be stupid to burden taxpayers with reckless rebuilding back in flood zones. But quite like the people that used taxpayer money to rebuild their swank private property barrier islnnd beach houses 3-4 times in their lifetime, complete with a new front yard of government-paid sand barged and trucked in.

=================

Volcano dwellers:

The government better not betray us with failed lava diversion levees in a major eruption.

What guarantees have cowardly politicians made that they are doing their best to ensure the volcano does not erupt again?

Am I going to have to go through this again and suffer as a volcano victim? At least I know what free 3-Star hotel along with free meals and NBA sneakers to stay in again if lava wipes out my crib again...

Johnny B. said...

From the article: "The president, Laura Bush and Vice President Cheney are all scheduled to speak Monday on the convention’s opening day."

Ah yes, the Republican version of hope -- that if Bush/Cheney speak on Monday that the bad taste of the last eight years will not cling to McCain on Thursday.

somefeller said...

Well, I see Paul A'Barge shows his class again.

Good luck, Beth. The storm forecasts are pretty disconcerting.

Greybeard said...

"Well, I see Paul A'Barge shows his class again."

Then put me and many others in that same class.

somefeller said...

Then put me and many others in that same class.

Suit yourself then. Birds of a feather, I suppose.

somefeller said...

To be clear, I'm not criticizing those who question the wisdom of moving back into a house that has already flooded, though if that's the only property one owns and there aren't many buyers for that property, the homeowner's choices are pretty limited. I'm criticizing Paul's "Taste the salt water" rhetoric, which is the sort of bog-standard ignoramus commentary that is par for the course for him.

tjl said...

All of us who live on the Gulf coast know that feeling of anxious helplessness as we study the latest storm tracks. Good luck to Beth and her compatriots who can always find a welcome in Houston if need be. We owe them for many many fond memories of the past hospitality of New Orleans.

Freder Frederson said...

They've added flood gates at the mouths of the canals connecting to the lake -- that's good, and something that's been thwarted in the past by environmentalists, foolishly.

This statement is blatantly untrue. Environmentalists (or anyone else) ever objected to gates at the mouths of the canals. The problem with the gates at the ends of the canals is that they will exacerbate flooding in the city from rainfall. That is why there were no gates on the outfall canals (and none planned) before Katrina.

Environmentalists often get blamed for thwarting plans to build massive floodgates and walls to prevent storm surges from entering Lake Pontchartrain from Lakes Catherine and Borgne, but they are just a convenient scapegoat. A very preliminary plan was floated for such a project years ago but it would have cost billions of dollars. The environmental objections raised didn't end the plans, lack of funding did.

I expect better of you Beth.

I also don't expect that the government has any way to stop these natural events or has any responsibility to make my life as it was before a disaster happens.

How much has the state and federal government spent on fire fighting in your little paradise this year? When the next earthquake strikes, I will wait with bated breath to hear how you refused all state, federal and local assistance.

Unlike lesser American people that live in 100-year flood plains told it would be stupid to burden taxpayers with reckless rebuilding back in flood zones.

Where exactly do you live Cedarford? You are confusing a 100 year flood with a 100 year storm. Btw, both Katrina and Rita were 400 year storms (that's right two 400 year storms hit the same state within a month). You obviously don't know the first thing about the purpose of the flood insurance program or how flood plains are designated. So why don't you just blame it on the Jews or, better yet, STFU.

MadisonMan said...

Btw, both Katrina and Rita were 400 year storms (that's right two 400 year storms hit the same state within a month).

I question the veracity of this statement. If you could point me to where you read it so I can also, I'd appreciate it.

Methadras said...

I'm going to regret saying this, but deep down inside I hope that New Orleans finally succumbs to flooding and is abandoned once and for all as a sink hole not only for this country, but it's time, it's resources, it's money, and to finally display (if it hasn't already) the utter failure of liberal/leftist policies and how these policies took a once great city and turned it into a cesspool of dependence, illiteracy, unintelligence, ignorance, and corruption. What a fitting way to watch all of that sink or drown into the delta marshes once and for all.

Now if only the great lakes could rise up and swallow Detroit, and a 1000 ft. tidal wave hits San Fransisco, it would be the boxed trifecta of life I've been looking for.

Original Mike said...

I question the veracity of this statement.

Consider the source, MM.

Original Mike said...

Veracity

1. habitual observance of truth in speech or statement; truthfulness: He was not noted for his veracity.
2. conformity to truth or fact

MadisonMan said...

Methadras, your compassion is heartwarming. Let's just kill off everyone who disagrees with your politics. Great idea.

freder, the principle reason I question the veracity is I'm wondering how a 400-y return time can be computed with only 200 years of data. I would expect a 400-y storm to be pretty powerful, but Mitch, to name one, was far far deadlier and stronger than either Katrina or Rita. So that's 3 storms -- and let's not forget Wilma, Gilbert, Camille or the Labor Day storm of 1935, so that's 7 -- 7 storms. And that ignores Allen, also stronger than Rita or Katrina. So how can you credibly claim it's a 400-year storm?

MadisonMan said...

Special note to pogo: If you want, I can come to your house and talk about hurricanes. That'll bore your guests into torpid submission. I'll tagteam with Dust Bunny Queen's finance talks.

Freder Frederson said...

I question the veracity of this statement.

I know you love to question my veracity. But here is the Army Corps explanation of what it means to be a "400 year storm" and that indeed Katrina was one. Like "100 year flood", the term is deceptive and consequently agencies are trying to get away from using it and replace it with .25% (400 year) or 1% (100 year) probability.

Freder Frederson said...

freder, the principle reason I question the veracity is I'm wondering how a 400-y return time can be computed with only 200 years of data.

And not only is the 100 and 400 year terminology deceptive, but the forecasters are beginning to realize that they have underestimated the probability of storms.

george grady said...

MadisonMan,

There's a spatial as well as temporal aspect to terms like "100-year storm". It doesn't mean to expect a storm as bad or worse as that to occur anywhere about once every 100 years. It means to expect a storm as bad or worse to hit a particular spot of coastline, say, about every 100 years. This storm strength will vary from location to location. It will also vary depending on how close a hit counts as a hit. I don't know off-hand explicitly what the parameters are, though.

Freder Frederson said...

but it's time, it's resources, it's money, and to finally display (if it hasn't already) the utter failure of liberal/leftist policies and how these policies took a once great city and turned it into a cesspool of dependence, illiteracy, unintelligence, ignorance, and corruption.

It's comments like this that makes me wonder what enlightened, conservative, independent, literate, intelligent, model of good governance you live in, that you can look down your nose at places you have probably never visited, let alone lived.

You sound positively elitist.

blake said...

Now, now, Louisiana was a harbor for criminals and ne'er-do-wells long before there were enough government positions to employ them all.

somefeller said...

I'm going to regret saying this,...

No, you won't Methadras, because you showed what kind of person you are with the rest of your comment. You won't feel any regret for wishing for the mass death of your countrymen, I'm sure. Christ, what kind of pathetic loser would consider the destruction of New Orleans, Detroit and San Francisco to be "the boxed trifecta of life I've been looking for"? Says something about that person's life, I suppose.

MadisonMan said...

freder, thank you for posting the link.

I don't see in the link exactly how the 400-y return time was computed for any individual point on the coastline, but that's not your fault (unless you wrote the manual).

MadisonMan said...

..and that last post is not meant to be critical, but light-hearted.

I am always complaining about statisticians.

Revenant said...

No one local is excited about making hay over any possibly embarrassing scenario there, and local bloggers and commenters (mostly liberal/progressive) have been leaving some scathing comments over at various Kos diaries that have raised that issue as if it's something to be happy about.

Beth,

Louisiana is going to McCain in November. To put it bluntly, nobody in the national Democratic Party cares about alienating the people of Louisiana this year. What are angry Louisiana liberals going to do -- vote for McCain? He's going to win the state anyway. The Republican Party ignores California Republicans for the same reason (except inasmuch as a lot of rich Republican donors happen to live here).

If Katriana II: The Sequel hits New Orleans during the Republican convention, the Democratic Party can and will use that to score political points from now until November at least. So the Republican Party needs to prepare to respond to that. They need to have plans in place to change their schedule to accommodate the hurricane news cycle, at the very least; if they carry on with business as usual, they'll be attacked for their callousness and cluelessness.

Revenant said...

Something else people don't realize about "100 year" (1%/year) events is that the likelihood of SOME part of the country getting hammered by them a lot more often than once every hundred years is extremely high. Random events are almost never perfectly distributed.

Beth said...

Well, I've been getting my work done all day and haven't been on this thread. I'm going to ignore a great many of the comments, from the usual dickheads. Sorry, not taking the bait. May the bile you swim in drown you in a most painful fashion.

Freder, yes, there were environmental groups in the 1970s that objected to pumps and gates at the lake. It's history, deal with it. But DBQ, don't be so comfortable with assuming "bstacles in the path of those who are trying to help" is the case, either. The Corps has created many of its own obstacles, including apparently an endless ego culture that hoards information and rejects attention to its errors.

Simon - so far as I can tell, we're doing pretty well in planning. There are bus routes and stops to pick up people who can't evacuate themselves, and I'll to doublecheck, but I think pets are included in that plan. Contraflow will start on Saturday. That means all the major roads out of the area will lead out of the area -- the incoming lanes are diverted to be outgoing. We did that for Katrina and it worked wonderfully. An earlier evacuation took us 24 hours to get from NOLA to Dallas; Katrina evac took 14 hours.

There are no shelters in the city -- it's all about leaving.

Area hospitals will evac patients who are up to it; those staying open and continuing to treat emergency patients have generators and their own fuel supplies.

Since we can't tell yet if we will have to evacuate -- the path won't be clear until late tomorrow at best -- we'll stock up on water and batteries later tonight just in case we stay. But if we do evacuate (really, I prefer that to escape!), we'll leave Saturday around 3 am. It's cooler in the slow traffic at night, and there won't be as much traffic at that hour.

Three years after Katrina, I'm still here. I'll be back after this one.

Right now, I'm finishing up my semester syllabus to put online so if we're away from campus for a little while, we can continue our classes. I'm also going to watch a little football tonight to see if that bum Jeremy Shockey finally makes an appearance. Then it's off to Walmart for supplies.

Here's a little joke from a longer, funny email making the rounds here:

Any minute now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Atlantic Ocean and making two basic meteorological points.
(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Louisiana. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by another "big one." We recommend that you follow this simple three-step plan:

STEP 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2: Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3: Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Beth said...

Ann, thanks for the concern: we're safe. The weird thing is while we're all getting ready and constantly watching every computer model of the storm, we're also going to work, taking care of usual business and doing all that during a perfectly sunny day of 90 degrees.

I'm not stressed about our personal evacuation -- it's a pain in the ass, lots to do, stuff to pack, and all that. But I and pretty much all my friends are at the age where we're responsible for our older, much older, relatives. That part is stressful. My friend who works at our newspaper won't be able to leave, but has to pack up her mom, her nannie (an elderly aunt) and at least one other relative. We have my partner's dad and his partner, 76 and 85 respectively, right in the current projected path, in Thibodaux (hey, Jim, is that your name?) They won't leave for anything under a Cat 4. They have a generator, are in a newly built house with a high-tech "tied down" roof that pretty much won't come off for anything less than a direct hit, and aren't in a flood zone. They're old, they don't want to be on the road for 10 hours.

If it's a Cat 4 prediction, though, we'll have to go get them and drive them up north. Them and their damn little yapping dog.

Beth said...

Peter, rather than continue to argue, I just want to say thank you for helping the New Orleanians who came to Chicago.

Beth said...

This article sums up the levee and surge protection status pretty well. It also references Katrina as a "396 year" storm -- someone asked about Freder's use of 400 year and this answers that question.

Simon said...

Beth, thanks for the update, and good luck to everyone down there in case things get hectic in the next few days.

Beth said...

Simon, I'll try to check in on chat sometime tomorrow or Saturday if you're available.

It's looking like we may not have to evacuate if this continues tracking west. I'm going to cut work short tomorrow and stock up on the necessities and prepare for a couple of hot days with no electricity. I'll take that over 15 hours in a car with two dogs and two cats.

I'm still happy to see how the preparations are going. All the parishes seem to have good evacuation plans, with buses for those who need them, and some air and train arrangements as well.

I don't think evacuation will be the problem this time -- it's all about the levees.