One Reporter's Opinion

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005


When The Levee Breaks

There has been a lot of press coverage about the breaks in the levee system throughout Orleans & Jefferson Parishes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They've been talking about rising floodwaters and how much damage potential this has in the days and weeks to come. They've even been so kind as to provide some photographic evidence.

Now. Notice anything wrong with this picture?




Last time I checked, a lift bridge would span a body of water. So I looked around, and, sure enough, this appears to be a view of the Claiborne Ave. bridge on the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal, facing north.

And water is spilling into it from the east, not out from it, which would be expected if the water from the canal was flooding into regions adjacent.

Which means that the residential neighborhood to the east of the IHNC was already under at least 15 feet of water before the levee was compromised. Keep that in mind when people are blaming the levee breaks for all the flooding in the days to come. (UPDATE: Emphasis on *breaks*; the NOLA killer will come from 17th St, apparently, so long as the western levee on the IHNC remains intact.)

Given what Mayor Nagin said about how St. Bernard Parish was in a bad way, and how both airports were under water, and how large segments of the twin-span I-10 causeway were gone, and how Slidell was now indistinguishable from Lake Pontchartrain (click for larger image)...



It's not unreasonable to conclude (click for larger image)...



...that the storm surge took out huge portions of the east long before the levees were compromised.

UPDATE: If this report on WWLTV is accurate, this is not good.

****ALL RESIDENTS ON THE EAST BANK OF ORLEANS AND JEFFERSON REMAINING IN THE METRO AREA ARE BEING TOLD TO EVACUATE AS EFFORTS TO SANDBAG THE LEVEE BREAK HAVE ENDED. THE PUMPS IN THAT AREA ARE EXPECTED TO FAIL SOON AND 9 FEET OF WATER IS EXPECTED IN THE ENTIRE EAST BANK. WITHIN THE NEXT 12-15 HOURS****

They are referring not to the levee break on the Industrial Canal, but rather, the break in the 17th St. Canal at Old Hammond Highway.

And guess what -- the funding that had been earmarked for reinforcing that levee and finishing the Old Hammond Highway bridge project? It went into a rathole because the Bush administration had other priorities; i.e. fighting the war in Iraq.

Now we're looking at a natural disaster which will cost untold billions, when a couple million might have sufficed.

Pound foolish, for sure.

UPDATE II: Apparently, according to Ed Reams from WDSU-6 (live on CNN now), the helicopter that was supposed to be sent to drop those 3000 pound sandbags in the breach at the 17th St Canal was "diverted for search and rescue."

Which would be all well and good -- if THE WHOLE GODDAMNED EAST BANK WASN'T GOING TO FLOOD IF THEY DIDN'T GET THAT HOLE UNDER CONTROL.

Sitrep as of 9:30 CT -- the pumphouse at 17th St has been submerged, the pumps have stopped functioning, and there hasn't been a single sandbag airlifted even to attempt to block the flow of Lake Pontchartrain into Lakeview.

FYI, the East Bank is all of the stuff that you probably know as greater New Orleans. Via answers.com:

East Bank

The "East Bank" is home to the majority of the City of New Orleans and the most densely populated portion of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, as well as many of the region's major suburbs. The many of these suburbs includes Metairie, Kenner, Jefferson, and Harahan on that side of the river.

Further down the river the much smaller suburbs of Arabi, Chalmette, Meraux, Pointe a la Hache, and Violet. All of St. Bernard Parish and the eastern portion of Plaquemines Parish is located on this bank. Most of these suburbs and parishes make up the southeastern portions of the Greater New Orleans area.

Visually:



Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?


3 Comments:

  • At 8/30/2005 5:50 PM , Cubicle said...

    Could it be the levee broke bill the area.

    That water plus the rain rasied the level, then the river started to drian out into the ocean like normal, causing the water to flood backwards.

    I would think you would have to see which way the levee broke, underwater to find out about the which way it broke.

     
  • At 8/30/2005 6:41 PM , Andy said...

    Consider a couple of things for a moment.

    1) The storm surge running from east to west. It was enough to inundate the eastern north shore (Slidell), overwhelm the I-10 causeway, and overrun the banks around the Lakefront Airport.

    2) The INHC is at a higher elevation than the surrounding neighborhood. Look at the picture again. The water here is flowing downhill.

     
  • At 9/01/2005 12:04 PM , Anonymous said...

    Thanks Andy. Looked at the Google Satelite and sure enough it is the Claiborne Ave Bridge.

    All the pics I have found seem to be that bridge, not the Hammond Highway Bridge.

    So... no pics of the breach?

     

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