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Thread: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

  1. #1
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    Default 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    "It looks like New Orleans is going through something very close to the worst case scenario right now. This somewhat prescient study, written well before the hurricane, describes some of the challenges (engineering and otherwise) facing New Orleans. 'In this hypothetical storm scenario, it is estimated that it would take nine weeks to pump the water out of the city,

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    A researcher wrote a dire prediction about New Orleans and their levee systems failing.
    This paper was written in November of 2004 and predicts exactly what turned out to have happened. It was written by someone at the University of New Orleans.
    http://www.colorado.edu/hazards/o/nov04/nov04c.html
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    It is a SAD question, but must be asked.

    Later this year, next year, 5 or ten years from now... this will happen again.

    Should billions of dollars be spent to rebuild NO? Or the Gulfport/Biloxi waterfront?

    I suppose if I lived there I'd say yes. What say ye?

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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    The same thing happened to Grand Forks, ND a few years back. Most of the people abandoned the downtown waterfront district and rebuilt up hill away from water. Thats kinda tough for NO- it's below sea level. I would never bet my life and existance on water pumps. Who ever lives there, its their choice. You cannot defy Mother Nature and the Laws of Physics for to long. It WILL happen again.
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Sad to say, but I think it's time to move. As someone else said, it'll be real hard to justify spending a lot (and it will be a LOT) of federal money to re-build a city that's 17 feet below sea level, in hurricane alley.

  6. #6

    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Isn't the delta kinda sinking? Also I think that the restricted flow of the river to the West will eventually cause the Missisippi to move under its own steam. That could be very bad. Maybe it is time to move, or start a new Venice.
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    Flashaholic* PhotonBoy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Also, ocean levels are slowly rising as the Antarctic ice shelves and Greenland's glaciers melt due to global warming (edit).
    Last edited by PhotonBoy; 09-01-2005 at 01:51 AM.

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    Flashaholic* mattheww50's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Quote Originally Posted by nerdgineer
    Sad to say, but I think it's time to move. As someone else said, it'll be real hard to justify spending a lot (and it will be a LOT) of federal money to re-build a city that's 17 feet below sea level, in hurricane alley.
    Well, I don't think rebuilding on the same site is such a good idea, but it will probably cost considerably less than we have already spent in Iraq, at least the benefits will be more tangible.

    Pardon me, but it is now day+3, and where oh oh were has our Federal Government and in particular the Corps of Engineers, been? With that kind of damage, I'd expect that this matter would have the full time and attention of Our President, The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, and the Department of the Interior (Bureau of Reclamation whom I think is responsible for the Levee system). Where are the Military Helicopters we so generously loaned after the Tsunami? Why does it take the Navy 2+ days to get out of Port?

    If the Corps of Engineers had any brains, they should have started rounding up heavy lift helicopters Saturday (Erikson's, Chinooks,Blackhwaks etc) and C130's for LowAltitude Extraction by Parachute), preparing to deploy, and started dropping giant sand bags as soon as the wind went down enough to make it possible. This problem has been made a whole lot worse than it needed to be by the incompetence at the highest levels, and not just Political leadership. There is probably no action that the Corps of Engineers could have taken that would be more damaging than what they have done so far, which is NOTHING! Absolutely Nothing will improve in New Orleans until the Levee breaches are closed up. Until the Corps of Engineers gets their act together and actually does something, it is all going to continue to deteriorate rapidly.

    If you want to know why the War in Iraq is so messed up, take a good look at how well we are running a far more serious problem, and far more immediate danger to millions of Americans than the War in Iraq, or the war on terror. If we do nothing in the War on Terror for a few days, how many American are likely to die as a result. If we continue at the present pace in the relief efforts in La,Ms, and Al, how many will die? This administration seems to be utterly disconnected from reality on many fronts.

    Sorry if many of you feel that is a political statement, but the truth is usually unpleasant.
    Last edited by mattheww50; 08-31-2005 at 10:02 PM.

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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    It's WAY too early to be planning reconstruction right now. Survivors need to be rescued and evacuated.

    As-is, if the levees can be repaired - however makeshift - and the pumping stations brought online, New Orleans can pump itself out in several days (the pumps have capacities rated at something like 10,000 cubic feet PER SECOND, or ~1/2" per hour, 1 foot per day ... rough metric equivalents being 283 cubic meters per second, ~1.25 cm/hr, ~30cm/day). If nothing else, this will allow for a thorough damage assessment. There are simply too many unknown variables right now to begin making pronouncements.

    Only after the city has been pumped dry can any truly useful proposals be generated. Finger-pointing accomplishes nothing right now.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 08-31-2005 at 11:36 PM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    While it may seem early to discuss it, the decision as to if the area we currently call New Orleans is salvagable (and if rebuilding if feasible) is a valid question to ask at this stage. Such a decision will determine the best way to handle the cleanup and recovery efforts. I agree that such a discussion is borderline morbid and not very palletable, but it must be addressed at some point. Living on a barrier island myself, and having gotten hit by Hurricane Charley last year and kept away from my home for 5 days by the local officials was difficult. For most of us there, not knowing what to expect nor what the future plans were was the most difficult thing to happen.

    As far as the present situation, the loss of life is going to be huge, with nearly most of these deaths being preventable. I think the greatest tragedy would be to rebuild the affected areas as they are now and not learn anything from this.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    There's this little thing called potential energy which tells me rebuilding is a bad idea, especially given that it looks like most of New Orleans won't even be salvageable. Since you'll essentially be starting from scratch anyway, you might as we rebuild in an area where this can't happen again.

    On a similar note, a lot of the underground infrastructure in NYC is just as vulnerable, and historically this area has been hit with 40-foot storm surges (just not in the last few centuries). It might be a good idea to build a seawall around Manhattan just in case given what's happened to New Orleans. Should the big one hit, it'll easily pay for itself.

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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    It is simply too early to be making armchair-judgements about New Orleans.

    The plans are already in place - drain the city, then do a detailed assessment. Even in the unlikely event that the city is deemed beyond repair, the city needs to be drained and cleaned up to avoid some nasty environmental damage and salvage what's left.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 09-01-2005 at 02:24 AM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Can't speak for others, but if it was my home and I got hit that hard, I'd move. No sense tempting fate again - knowing MY personal luck I ALWAYS get it where it hurts.
    Celebrating the ROP.. 5 years of history

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    Flashaholic* DarkLight's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    When it is pumped out they are going to have to raze most of the city due to water damage......

    better hope another storm isnt coming anytime soon..

    this is what happens when your mandatory evac isnt very mandatory..
    "The world is a grindstone, whether it grinds you down, or polishes you up, is up to you."

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    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    it will probably cost considerably less than we have already spent in Iraq
    What has that got to do with anything?

    where oh oh were has our Federal Government and in particular the Corps of Engineers, been
    Unfortunately, the federal government doesn't just move in to disaster areas and take over control from the local government. (Thats assuming that there is any local government left) And in this case the local and state government was extremely slow in doing anything or even asking anybody else for help. For example, if you want the national guard to come and help with something, you actually have to ask them! They dont just show up, which under most circumstances is a good thing. the local government has to exhaust their own abilities to deal with something before the feds move in. And even once they are there the local folks are calling the shots as much as possible. In the case of the guard, they are never put under the command of the local government, but they are there to "assist" and can perform certain duties. but only if they are asked to do so.

    If the local government is so slow to respond that they dont ask for help before it's too late, it's not really the fed's fault. If the local government wants to sit around and develop master plans before actually sending anybody out to do anything, then thats their choice. And I think a lot of that went on here. I think it's horrible that they reacted as slowly and as poorly as they did, and continue to do, but the feds just can't walk in and tell them that we are unhappy with the way they are managing things and we're taking over now.
    -James

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    *Flashaholic* McGizmo's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    There are millions living in flood planes, on fault lines and exposed to other acts of nature. New construction seems to comply with new understandings of the potential damages that can be unleashed by mother nature but ultimately we are all at the mercy of nature and more often at the mercy of fellow man! To rebuild NO while ignoring why it needs to be rebuilt would be short sighted. To simply walk away is likely also shortsighted, IMHO.

    Perhaps NO could be rebuilt above sea level as opposed to what, leaving it as is? It is unlikely that this valuable real estate will be abandoned?!?!

    Perhaps a combination of land fill and pilings can bring the city proper above sea level. For land fill, there may be some on site materials that can be used as part of the base. Maybe some of the stuff that was looted along with the looters; half joking.

    It seems to me that as stated above, it is premature for CPF to decide the fate of NO. I am sure they will check with us when the time comes!

    I would also like to suggest that prior to using the fact of Global Warming to influence any decisions, it might help to identify what Global Warming is and what the projections for the future may have in store. Heck, even confirmation that Global Warming is a reality might not be a bad idea. It may be that some decide to attribute the recent hurricanes and other disasters to the will of Allah and his hand in bringing the infidels down. Sheesh, Homeland Security may end up being tasked with taking on nature herself!

    In the mean time, there are things that we can do to aid our friends and fellow man in the aftermath and it seems like the CPF community has risen to the call!

    You know, for the most part, this post is really stupid! And why is that? Because:

    Build Prices .... some mods and builds (not 4 sale) "Nature can be cruel- but we don't have to be."~ Temple Grandin

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    Flashaholic* mattheww50's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Quote Originally Posted by James S
    What has that got to do with anything?



    Unfortunately, the federal government doesn't just move in to disaster areas and take over control from the local government. (Thats assuming that there is any local government left) And in this case the local and state government was extremely slow in doing anything or even asking anybody else for help. For example, if you want the national guard to come and help with something, you actually have to ask them! They dont just show up, which under most circumstances is a good thing. the local government has to exhaust their own abilities to deal with something before the feds move in. And even once they are there the local folks are calling the shots as much as possible. In the case of the guard, they are never put under the command of the local government, but they are there to "assist" and can perform certain duties. but only if they are asked to do so.

    If the local government is so slow to respond that they dont ask for help before it's too late, it's not really the fed's fault. If the local government wants to sit around and develop master plans before actually sending anybody out to do anything, then thats their choice. And I think a lot of that went on here. I think it's horrible that they reacted as slowly and as poorly as they did, and continue to do, but the feds just can't walk in and tell them that we are unhappy with the way they are managing things and we're taking over now.
    Sorry to throw cold water on you, but the Corps of Engineers has ABSOLUTE authority over the River and the Levee system. They don't need anyone's permission to do much of anything. They built the system, they are responsible for maintenance and repair as well. They are responsible for every lock,dam,and levee on the river (and every levee on Lake Ponchatrain, and if Ponchatrain is navigible, the Lake is their's as well.).

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    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Quote Originally Posted by mattheww50
    Sorry to throw cold water on you
    Cold water isn't necessary, the discussion should be enough

    but the Corps of Engineers has ABSOLUTE authority over the River and the Levee system. They don't need anyone's permission to do much of anything. They built the system, they are responsible for maintenance and repair as well. They are responsible for every lock,dam,and levee on the river (and every levee on Lake Ponchatrain, and if Ponchatrain is navigible, the Lake is their's as well.).
    It makes sense for this to be true, and you might have more first hand knowledge about it than I do certainly, but it's hard to find where this stuff is documented as policy.

    Most of the maintenance and even construction of these projects is handled by contract to local companies where local companies exist that are capable of doing the work. A significant portion of their charter legislation concerns how much they are willing to pay for these services and how to split up the cost between the fed and the local governments. Whats needed to activate the national guard or the corp of engineers seems to be almost the same language across the various bills.

    The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act Is what appears to control what they do. A couple of pertinent sections would be paragraph 5170, section 401:

    All requests for a declaration by the President that a major disaster exists shall be made by the Governor of the affected State. Such a request shall be based on a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary. As part of such request, and as a prerequisite to major disaster assistance under this Act, the Governor shall take appropriate response action under State law and direct execution of the State's emergency plan. The Governor shall furnish information on the nature and amount of State and local resources which have been or will be committed to alleviating the results of the disaster, and shall certify that, for the current disaster, State and local government obligations and expenditures (of which State commitments must be a significant proportion) will comply with all applicable cost-sharing requirements of this Act. Based on the request of a Governor under this section, the President may declare under this Act that a major disaster or emergency exists.
    But they have to ask for it first to bring in the guard or the corp of engineers and first decide that they can't handle it themselves.

    there is another part that might be applicable too:

    During the immediate aftermath of an incident which may ultimately qualify for assistance under this title or title V of this Act [42 U.S.C. §§ 5170 et seq. or 5191 et seq.], the Governor of the State in which such incident occurred may request the President to direct the Secretary of Defense to utilize the resources of the Department of Defense for the purpose of performing on public and private lands any emergency work which is made necessary by such incident and which is essential for the preservation of life and property. If the President determines that such work is essential for the preservation of life and property, the President shall grant such request to the extent the President determines practicable. Such emergency work may only be carried out for a period not to exceed 10 days.
    again they have to come to the fed and admit that a problem is beyond their capability to handle and ask for help. This requires paperwork.

    Other interesting articles where the corp itself has said things like:

    "We act as a contracting agency," says Homer Perkins, USACE public affairs specialist. "The work is done primarily by local contractors, but under our authority."
    This could obviously take longer to manage than just riding to the rescue with a pre-arranged team of actual army engineers and federal heavy equipment. That article is specifically about debris collection, but the same applies to any other response that you'd like them to do:

    Our mayor first calls a localized city emergency, then the state makes the proclamation, and finally, FEMA kicks in on order from the federal government," he says. "USACE didn't do any debris collection following the hurricane, but they did handle disposal. Our collectors delivered the debris to a central location in Homestead, then USACE took over."
    Here is another Interesting Article about their response to barrier island problems in NYC.

    In the past, the Corps could act only if asked by the governor of New York after a declaration of emergency signified that all state resources were exhausted. In response, the Corps would prepare a report justifying federal participation in emergency work. This report went to Corps Headquarters in Washington for review. If approved, the Corps would prepare plans and specifications and negotiate a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the state. Following approval of the PCA, a construction contract would be advertised and awarded. In a typical case, Pikes Beach in Westhampton, NY after the 1992 Northeaster, it took six months to approve the report and award a contract, and five more months to effect final closure of the breach. In the interim, the breach -- initially 50 feet wide and six inches deep, had grown to 3000 feet wide and 20 feet deep.
    Typical federal government garbage, file paperwork and wait while people die. I'm not defending this system, it's garbage. But with proper planning you can get the paperwork done to activate these things done in hours instead of days. There was no proper planning in this disaster. I'm not defending them for not being there hours after the storm, I'm just reacting to the knee jerk desire to blame everything on the fed
    -James

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  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Unicorn's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    The National Guard of the State of Louisana (except for the units in Iraq right now) do not fall under federal authority unless they are activated federally. They are the governers army and air force, a state agency. Now, I don't know how many are there, probably about half of the states Guard force I'd guess though. The governer could have called them out before, during, or at any time to help deal with this. I don't know when the call went out though. There were some called up before to help with evacuations, but probably all should have been called to state duty immediately after so that they'd be ready to help with evacuations, searching for bodies, stopping looters, etc.

  20. #20

    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    I reserve my dis-taste (sp?) feeling about the NO and La governments. Yes, perhaps feds COULD have had a bigger role before the fifth day... but local Guard troops should have been in action by day two!

    One can only wonder what a multi-city 911 could be like... (shivering!!!)

  21. #21
    Farewell our Curmudgeon Administrator Roy's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Let's not forget that most of the roads north of NO and the Gulf Coast had to be cleared of fallen trees and what-not before any relief convoys could get through!

  22. #22
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    what amazes me is not the relief taking so long.

    but issue of plugging the leak in the levee and results of not taking imediate action.

    when you are dealing with breaks several blocks long. you need something of simular size to shut it down.

    there are all sorts of barges nearby, some easily a block long. some probably carrying a low value item like coal. why could they not comandeer say a coal barge, sink it. then plug up around it.

  23. #23
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Probably any number of good reasons not to use barges... Two I can think of off the top of my head.

    They'd jut out into the channel and present navigational hazards.

    Prossibly not strong enough to hold back 10' of water or of iffy structural integrity even if they are.

    They might make for decent work platforms, however.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  24. #24
    Flashaholic* mattheww50's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    FEMA now says it may be up to 9 months before New Orleans is dry. I don't care how big the pumps, you are talking about pumps moving cubic meters. The water is cubic Kilometers. My thumbnails says about half a cubic mile of water needs to pumped out. The secondary issue is whether all not they will be permitted to dump all the garbage into the River or the lake. At this point the water is heavily contaminated with just about every imaginable biological and industrial contaminant. If those have to processed out before the water can be dumped, it is going to take a while.

    I think it is safe to say Much of New Orleans Infrastructure is now 'toast'.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Think about the infrastucture damage to water, sewer, electric, gas, phone, etc. I personally think they may just consider filling the place over to raise it above sea level and starting fresh.

    Evacuation:
    I saw pictures of about 100 submerged school buses that were parked in storage. I find it amazing that the Mayor did not declare a mandatory evacuation and then use the buses to shuttle people out.
    Thanks,
    Brian

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  26. #26
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    NO infrastructure toast?

    This is not directed at any particular person, but will you guys wake up?

    This thing destroyed the infrastructure from above jackson, ms to the gulf of mexico. Look at a map.

    NO may have been flooded, but at least it's still there! Look at gulfport, ms or waveland, ms or pascagoula, ms or biloxi, ms or any town anywhere near the MS coast. They are GONE. Completely.
    This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    I agree with you about the devestation to other areas outside of NO. However, the topic at hand was NO.

    The media has not been focusing on the other areas nearly as much as it has been on NO. The media needs to show those other areas decimated by Katrina.
    Thanks,
    Brian

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  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    I saw pictures of about 100 submerged school buses that were parked in storage.
    Yup, I was looking at those pictures too.

    This Fellow Is posting a lot of info about the busses that people are finding looking at the satellite photos. There are 142 city busses parked in the lot less than a mile from the superdome, and not much further another 255 school buses. Enough to evacuate 22,000 people in a single trip. Assuming you could find 350+ people to drive them. but then, the municipal busses are in use every normal day, and the school busses are driven every school day, so those people are there and there should be enough other city and business folks that have the appropriate license, you dont need to make the bus drivers stay behind necessarily.

    And make sure you scroll down and read this entry too where he quotes from the actual emergency evacuation plan in place since 2000 where it specifically says that they planned to use these exact busses to do the evacuation. But for some reason they failed to arrange ahead of time to do so and when they finally decided to use them it was too late. He also has links to the actual documents in total if you really want to read the whole things. I did.

    So while it would certainly have been nice if the Army Corp of Engineers had shown up to fix the levees a day or 2 earlier, it shouldn't have mattered because all the people should have already been gone. The work to plan their evacuation had already been done. Why didn't anybody in the local government pull the switch?
    -James

    E=sqrt((mc^2)^2+(pc)^2)

  29. #29
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess
    Probably any number of good reasons not to use barges... Two I can think of off the top of my head.

    They'd jut out into the channel and present navigational hazards.

    Prossibly not strong enough to hold back 10' of water or of iffy structural integrity even if they are.

    They might make for decent work platforms, however.
    assuming they could get barges into position. who cares if they poke out of the channel, permenant repairs could be make later.

    why would loads of dense coal or some other cargo not be less effective than bags of sand? those barges are wider than 10ft.

    time was the critical issue. if leaks had been pluged within first few hours. greatly reducing flow.

    if pumps could have handled exta water, damage would have been way less.

    but hindsight is 20/20

    if all those folks that did evacuate, knew what was going to happen. they would have packed differently.

  30. #30
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: 9 weeks to pump out New Orleans???

    This whole event is a trail of incompetence as far as the eye can see. This morning we have an article in the Shreveporttimes that quotes our very own Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown as saying:

    "Saturday and Sunday, we thought it was a typical hurricane situation -- not to say it wasn't going to be bad, but that the water would drain away fairly quickly. Then the levees broke and (we had) this lawlessness. That almost stopped our efforts."
    So the man in charge of disaster in America wasn't aware of the situation in NO and hadn't heard that it was number 2 on the list of worst case events that could happen in this country? He was misinformed badly enough to think that the water would drain away like a hurricane in an area that was above sea level?

    Doesn't matter how long it takes to get aid if the major players are ignoring their own emergency plans and the federal government isn't even aware that there is a problem.

    These people are supposed to be prepared not surprised. I can hardly believe the incompetence.
    -James

    E=sqrt((mc^2)^2+(pc)^2)

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