New Orleans cannot be considered a safe city and it is still unprepared for Gulf Coast weather.
New Orleans is an odd place.
On Christmas, there’s an old Cajun ritual where the locals build wooden teepees on the levees and set them on fire. I have no idea why. I watched it one a few years back. Some guys get creative – one built a wooden Coca-Cola truck and set it on fire.
They must be insane to live in a coastal city under the sea level.
The real stories of Katrina were buried under newsmedia fantasies and political games.
ACE concluded that four levees were breached (not “overtopped”) . The engineers failed to take into account poor soil quality and the sinking landmass under New Orleans, so erosion weakened the levee foundations. Some sections of the levee were two feet lower than other sections due to erosion and sinking. “Foundational instability” caused the breaches.
These four breeches, along the 17th St. Canal, North and South London Ave Canal and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canals, caused over 2/3rds of the city flooding. Water leaked into the foundation. The Orleans Canal I-walls slid form their normal positions but did not breech. There are 284 miles of levees in New Orleans, and 169 miles of it were damaged to some extent or another. In addition to the four major breaches, there were failures at 50 other locations.
This is where things get unique.
When Katrina struck the US, it was reduced to a Category Three Hurricane. The Levees were constructed to withstand a Category Three Hurricane. The Levees actually held during Katrina. There was also no flooding frpm Lake Pontchartrain or in the canals.
What was the water level prior to the breech? An NOFD video near the 17th St Canal, prior to 9am, showed that the the canal water level was 1 meter above normal. A near-normal tide of water literally washed out the foundation of the wall. This disproves the idea that flooding caused “overtopping” of the levees.
17th St. Canal breech began at 6am showing signs of severe leaking. The wall foundation slid and the wall collapsed by 9am. The was a catastrophic levee failure.
Here’s an article worth considering. What the Media Missed.
The Louisiana National Guard and the US Coast Guard successfully rescued and evacuated thousands the city under adverse circumstances. This went unreported.
Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?
They missed out on the real story.
From the Dome, the Louisiana Guard’s main command ran at least 2,500 troops who rode out the storm inside the city, a dozen emergency shelters, 200-plus boats, dozens of high-water vehicles, 150 helicopters, and a triage and medical center that handled up to 5,000 patients (and delivered 7 babies). The Guard command headquarters also coordinated efforts of the police, firefighters and scores of volunteers after the storm knocked out local radio, as well as other regular military and other state Guard units.
Jack Harrison, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia, cited “10,244 sorties flown, 88,181 passengers moved, 18,834 cargo tons hauled, 17,411 saves” by air. Unlike the politicians, they had a working chain of command that commandeered more relief aid from other Guard units outside the state. From day one.
the national media imposed a near total blackout on the nerve center of what may have been the largest, most successful aerial search and rescue operation in history.
50,000 people were trapped in a city without clean water, food, or shelter. In the largest National Guard operation in history, these people were saved.
The National Guard set up command at the Superdome and kept the place secured and safe, despite false reports by journalists. Hundreds of helicopters were constantly landing and carrying out civilians. Few civilians stayed in the Superdome for any length of time. They had more than sufficient bottled water and MREs. Civilians received military quality rations, which kept them alive even if it wasn’t 5-star dining. The National Guard coordinated with the NOFD and NOPD in the rescue operations.
The National Guard kept everyone up and running in the wake of the Hurrican’s disruption of normal communications and transportation routes.
In all this time, Dressler said, “We didn’t see a single camera crew or reporter on the scene. Maybe someone was there with a cell phone or a digital camera but I didn’t see anyone.” This was in the headquarters area. Maj. Ed Bush, meanwhile, did start seeing reporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, but inside the Dome, most were interested in confirming the stacks of bodies in the freezers, interviews with rape victims, he said, and other mayhem that never happened. He pitched the rescue angle and no one was interested. A few reporters and film crews did hitch rides on helicopters, came back, and produced stories of people stuck on rooftops, not stories about rescues, he said.
Neither Maj. Bush nor Dressler saw TV until the end of the week. They were aghast. Apart from sporadic mentions, the most significant note taken of this gigantic operation was widespread reporting of the rumor that a sniper had fired on a helicopter. What were termed evacuations in some cases, rescue operations in others, were said to have been halted as a result. “I never knew how badly we were being killed in the media,” Maj. Ed Bush says. In reality, the only shots fired at the Guard were purely metaphorical and originated with the media. Rescues continued 24/7 at a furious pace.
In the end, the media timeline was exactly backwards. The bulk of all rescues took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and began tapering off on Thursday, officials say. Their account is buttressed by a Washington Post poll of survivors, which indicates that 75 percent of the survivors who had been trapped and rescued were picked by Thursday, and virtually all were picked up by the end of the week.
Journalists created a fantasy narrative without a single fact.
There is a difference between the National and Louisiana perceptions of the flood.
The people of Louisiana held Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin responsible while they praised the efforts of their National Guard. The National perception is based on the newsmedia fantasy and irrational emotions.
First, for those who never lived on the Gulf Coast, the governor of the state is the highest authority during a Hurrican, not the President of the United States. Governor Blanco was the chief authority in charge, not Bush.
Blanco was in charge of the state National Guard, city and state authorities, and all Federal material brought into the State of Louisiana. President Bush could not command National Guard units without invoking the Posse Comitatus Act and stripping them of the Governors Control (and losing the National Guard’s law enforcement powers in the process). Once Federal resources are brought into the state, they are used to support State operations. The Federal Government is only responsible for bringing resources to the state.
When a Governor performs well, as many Florida governors do, they take all the credit. When the governor does poorly, they try to blame the President, cleverly abusing public ignorance of Federalism’s division of State and Federal power. Baton Rouge had the power during Katrina, not Washington.
Gov. Blanco badly mismanaged two hurricanes during her single term.
After the New Orleans disaster, the people of Louisiana, which includes some of my family (I’m admitting bias), held her accountable. She was dubbed Governor Blank Stare in some corners. She had the lowest approval rating in the country and recently declined to run for re-election. Bobby Jindal will likely be the next Governor of the state.
The City Politics
The City Levee Commission is highly corrupt and diverted levee money to special interests. This is a longer story and it has to do with the extremely high level of corruption in New Orleans. Louisiana is the second most corrupt State of the Union.
Besides the corruption issue, Mayor Nagin was responsible for creating and ordering an evacuation plan. For a city of half a million, an evacuation should take three days. One may or may not fault Nagin for not evacuating the city early (I do not). However, one can fault Nagin for not creating an evacuation plan at all. One can fault Nagin for still not having an evacuation plan today.
The City of New Orleans must create a plan to use all public transportation (city and school buses, Amtrak, etc) to move people out of the city in an emergency. It cannot just defer the responsibility to the Federal Government as Nagin has done.
The Army Corps of Engineers failed to build structurally sound levees in New Orleans. The soil erosion caused the failures, not Katrina. From the sounds of it, New Orleans could have just gone underwater on any sunny day in June.
The City and State politicians badly mismanged the civilian agencies during the crisis, including their failure to properly evacuate the population.
The National Guard and Coast Guard executed the largest rescue operation in US history and saved the people of the city from a true disaster.
The newsmedia produced nothing but lies and myths, distorting everyone’s perception of the event. Journalists were disgraceful, and at points harmed the rescue effort by deliberately spreading lies and misinformation. Some resources were diverted to the wrong spots because people believed that journalists told the truth.