You are here


Floodwall pilings seven feet shorter than Army Corps of Engineers said

From this:

Sheet piling supporting the failed floodwall on the 17th Street Canal extends just 10 feet below sea level, 7 feet shorter than the Corps of Engineers has maintained, a team of investigators said Wednesday [11/9], strengthening earlier findings that faulty design and construction played a role in the canal breaches that flooded much of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
An LSU forensic engineering team, working in conjunction with the state attorney general's office, began examining the levee foundation with ground sonar Wednesday. The first reading was taken about 150 yards south of the break that allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to inundate the city.
Independent engineers have questioned whether the pilings, even at the corps' stated depth, went down far enough to support the floodwalls and prevent storm surge from penetrating beneath the earthen levees and causing structural failure...

LSU: Faulty design or construction of floodwalls to blame

Ivor van Heerden and others from LSU's Hurricane Center now say that the flooding of New Orleans was caused by either faulty design or fault construction of the floodwalls, rather than overtopping or other explanations: "Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding". (Note that the WaPo's headline is confused: they aren't talking about the levees).
LSU has constructed computer modeling showing that the surges did not overtop the floodwalls:

...[Van Heerden] said the real scandal of Katrina is the "catastrophic structural failure" of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with relative ease.
"We are absolutely convinced that those floodwalls were never overtopped," said van Heerden, who also runs LSU's Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.
In an interview Tuesday, [Army Corps of Engineers] spokesman Paul Johnston said the agency still believes that storm surges overtopped the concrete floodwalls near the lake, then undermined the earthen levees on which they were perched, setting the stage for the breaches that emptied the lake into the city.
Johnston said the Corps intends to launch an investigation to make sure it is correct about that scenario. But he emphasized that Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane when it smashed into the Gulf Coast, whereas Congress authorized the Corps to protect New Orleans against a storm only up to Category 3. "The event exceeded the design," Johnston said.


On a tour Tuesday, researchers showed numerous indications that Katrina's surge was not as tall as the lakefront's protections. They showed a "debris line" that indicates the top height of Katrina's waves was at least four feet below the crest of Lake Pontchartrain's levees. They also pointed out how the breached floodwalls near the lake showed no signs of overtopping -- no splattering of mud, no drip lines and no erosion at their bases. They contended that the pattern of destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping.
The center has also completed a computerized "hindcast" of Katrina, which has confirmed the evidence before their eyes. Their model indicates that most of the surge around the lake and its nearby canals was less than 11 feet above sea level, and that none of it should have been greater than 13 feet. The Army Corps's flood-protection system for New Orleans was designed to handle surges of more than 14 feet above sea level.
"This should not have been a big deal for these floodwalls," said oceanographer G. Paul Kemp, a hurricane expert who runs LSU's Natural Systems Modeling Laboratory. "It should have been a modest challenge. There's no way this should have exceeded the capacity."

Feds trying to scapegoat Sierra Club?

Remember the posts "Greens vs. Levees" or "New Orleans: A Green Genocide"? It looks like the feds might have been reading those articles:

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
...The Sierra Club and other environmental groups had nothing to do with the flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina that killed hundreds, [David Bookbinder, senior attorney for Sierra Club] said. "It's unfortunate that the Bush administration is trying to shift the blame to environmental groups. It doesn't surprise me at all."
...[Contrary to what the NRO article says,] The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city...

Why did the floodwalls break and not the levees?

From this:

One of the central mysteries emerging in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is why concrete floodwalls in three canals breached during the storm, causing much of the catastrophic flooding, while earthen hurricane levees surrounding the city remained intact...
"Why did we have no hurricane levee failures but five separate places with floodwall failures?" asked Joseph Suhayda, a retired LSU coastal engineer who examined the breaches last week. "That suggests there may be something about floodwalls that makes them more susceptible to failure. Did (the storm) exceed design conditions? What were the conditions? What about the construction?"
Ivor Van Heerden, who uses computer models to study storm-surge dynamics for the LSU Hurricane Center, has said that fragmentary initial data indicate that Katrina's storm-surge heights in Lake Pontchartrain would not have been high enough to top the canal walls and that a "catastrophic structural failure" occurred in the floodwalls...

"New Orleans: A Green Genocide"

I'm not going to go quite that far, but FPM says:

...Decades ago, the Green Left - pursuing its agenda of valuing wetlands and topographical "diversity" over human life - sued to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from building floodgates that would have prevented significant flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina...
...The New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers and Professor Stone were not the only people cognizant of the consequences that could and did result because of the environmental activists. While speaking with Sean Hannity on his radio show on Labor Day, former Louisiana Congressman and Speaker of the House Bob Livingston also referred to environmentalists whose litigation prevented hurricane prevention projects... 1977, a state environmentalist group known as Save Our Wetlands (SOWL) sued to have it stopped. SOWL stated the proposed Rigolets and Chef Menteur floodgates of the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Prevention Project would have a negative effect on the area surrounding Lake Pontchartrain. Further, SOWL's recollection of this case demonstrates they considered this move the first step in a perfidious design to drain Lake Pontchartrain entirely and open the area to dreaded capitalist investment...

Subscribe to RSS - lake-pontchartrain