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New levees plan won't protect SBP, Lower Ninth, N.O. East

The Army Corps of Engineers said the plan for improved levees that is being pushed by President George Bush is a good one for the areas where levees breached but will do nothing to protect the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East or St. Bernard Parish.
...The plan calls for closing off the levees at the London Avenue, Orleans Avenue and 17th Street Canals by June 1, 2006...
In addition the levees will be built over with concrete and pumping stations would be positioned near Lake Pontchartrain within two years.
The plans are based on the standard of a true Category-3 and Congress used 100 miles per hour winds as their gauge for satisfactory flood protection in the short term.
The Corps has also been given two years to come up with a proposal for Category-5 protection...


St. Bernard Parish: people living in cars, barns, tents

St. Bernard Parish president, Henry "Junior" Rodriguez, says they need 12,000 trailers, but only a small percentage of that amount have been set up:

...1,400 trailers are sitting unused in St. Bernard Parish. The parish ordered them from a private contractor days after the hurricane hit on August 29, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency has not agreed to pay for them.
There are also more than 5,000 FEMA mobile homes in Arkansas sitting unused, CNN has learned.
FEMA responded Tuesday, telling CNN it is ready to deliver 125,000 trailers to the area but that parish officials "still have to identify places to put them."

From the pull-up-your-socks file, Rodriguez says:

"We got a serious situation in St. Bernard Parish... We got people living in tents and automobiles. We got people living in barns. We got people living in their houses -- in tents... This is the beginning of winter. This is unacceptable."

It's certainly unacceptable from the standpoint that those residents have paid for such federal assistance through taxation. However, perhaps it would be best for all concerned if they considered how this would have been handled a hundred years ago: residents would have gotten together and helped each other out rather than simply giving up and relying on the federal government.

Big-time hauls being looted in St. Bernard Parish

From this November 12 story:

Saint Bernard Parish sheriff's officials say they have arrested about 50 people in some 20 cases of looting since Hurricane Katrina.
The parish is still closed to non-residents, but some people allowed in to work have apparently also take advantage of their access to commit burglaries and thefts.
Major John Doran, chief of detectives for the Sheriff's Office, says the department has made numerous arrests and detectives are assigned specifically to look for looters. Doran says it's difficult to keep track of all the people working at gutting homes and businesses.
He says several hundred thousand dollars worth of stolen property and cash has been recovered and some narcotics have been seized.

22 dead on a rope in SBP? Nope, debunked

One of the more gruesome tales coming in the aftermath of the storm was the claim that 22 dead people tied to a rope had been spotted in Violet, which is in St. Bernard Parish. It wasn't a case of just a really long rope: it was a tall tale. "Officials debunk one of the most disturbing Katrina stories" has the details, and they appear to have found the injection point:

[St. Bernard Parish Fire Chief Tom Stone] said that a resident of the affluent Jumonville subdivision, near Violet, who evacuated during the height of the storm surge told a rescuer that he saw people roped together.


Another story of mass death in the parish around the same time was quickly defused after a local congressman retracted his statement that 100 rescued people had died in a warehouse awaiting evacuation.

While I'm inclined to think some of the horror stories were actually true and conflicted parties are now trying to fool us twice, I'll put these in the "fully debunked" category.

Feds to locals: pay premium if don't use ACE to contract debris removal

From this:

The federal government next month will start requiring local governments to pay a premium if they decide to bypass the U-S Army Corps of Engineers when contracting for hurricane-related debris removal.
Starting November 27th, local authorities who hire their own contractors to remove debris will have to pick up 10 percent of the cost.
Parishes that agree to use private contractors hired by the Corps of Engineers still will be eligible for 100 percent reimbursement from the federal government.
The decision rankled officials in Saint Bernard Parish, which signed a contract in early September to have Unified Recovery Group handle debris removal.
Saint Bernard Council President Joey DiFatta says his parish doesn't have enough revenue to afford even a 10 percent share, yet it does not want to part ways with a company it believes is performing well.

MRGO as the "express lane": Part 2

Katrina may mean MR-GO has to go

...After massive flooding killed hundreds in St. Bernard Parish, eastern New Orleans and the Lower 9th Ward, there is growing consensus that Katrina's surge was made far worse by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile shortcut between the city and the Gulf of Mexico. And while the shipping industry vows to protect the channel, political momentum appears increasingly in favor of St. Bernard officials who have long warned the waterway must be closed.
Scientists from Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center say the Gulf Outlet, also known as MR-GO, and a second channel, the Intracoastal Waterway, funneled Katrina's powerful surge into a narrow bottleneck just north of Chalmette.
The funnel caused floodwaters to stack up several feet higher than elsewhere in the metro area and sharply increased the surge's speed as it rushed through the MR-GO and into the Industrial Canal. As a result, levees that would have been topped -- but not breached -- crumbled under the hydrologic assault, turning a major flood into an unprecedented disaster, according to Hassan Mashriqui, a civil engineer from LSU who had predicted the funnel effect prior to the storm.
Absent the funnel effect, Mashriqui said, "you would have had maybe 2 to 3 feet of flooding at the max, but not everybody's house underwater. It's still flooding, but one is significant and one is catastrophic."
The Port of New Orleans and Army Corps of Engineers dispute the Hurricane Center's claims, saying Katrina's intensity was enough to topple levees regardless of the shipping channel. Those levees were built to withstand only storms up to Category 3; Katrina made landfall at Buras as a Category 4 storm.
"This was just a ferocious and huge storm," Port of New Orleans CEO Gary LaGrange said.

Previously: MR-Gulf Outlet canal under scrutiny; "express lane" for the surge

Louisiana's seafood industry devastated; MRGO, environmental damage

The DMN's "Seafood industry forced over the edge" reports that the $2.6 billion a year industry has been severely damaged by both hurricanes:

...That has heightened uncertainty about the future of an industry that provides nearly 30,000 jobs and lands almost half of the shrimp, 26 percent of the crabs and 37 percent of the oysters caught in the United States...
Oystering - an industry built on leasing reefs on which oysters are planted and harvested like land crops - already had been hurt by saltwater intrusion from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a controversial 76-mile canal constructed in 1968.
The channel, known as MRGO, was designed to shorten the distance that deep-water transport ships had to travel to reach New Orleans from the open waters of the Gulf.
It also may have provided a devastatingly efficient pathway for Katrina's enormous storm surge.
St. Bernard Parish and much of Plaquemines Parish, the state's two biggest seafood producers, were covered in 12 to 14 feet of water, and much of both parishes' fishing fleets were pushed onto nearby roads, bridges and levees. The storm pushed huge amounts of mud and debris that smothered oyster beds, damage that experts say will take two years or more even to begin to undo.
Shrimping grounds were littered with debris. Boats reported seeing animal carcasses and shredded bits of buildings as much as 100 miles into the Gulf.
The U.S. Geological Survey says that before Katrina, Louisiana was losing almost 44 acres a day of the marshlands that serve not only as coastal buffers but also as nurseries for the state's fisheries. The USGS now estimates that the hurricane obliterated nearly one and a half times the amount of Louisiana marshland eroded into the sea over the previous 48 years...

LAT on the Gretna bridge incident

Let me summarize "After Blocking the Bridge, Gretna Circles the Wagons":
Gretna passed a resolution supporting the decision to block the bridge...
Gretna is 2/3 white, blue-collar, and has had an occasionally troubled relationship with NO...
They helped bus 5000 NOers out, but then the strain got too much...

... After someone set the local mall on fire Aug. 31, Gretna Police Chief Arthur S. Lawson Jr. proposed the blockade...
Gretna is not the only community that views New Orleans with distrust. Authorities in St. Bernard Parish, to the east, stacked cars to seal roads from the Crescent City. But Gretna's decision has become the symbol of the ultimate act of a bad neighbor, gaining notoriety partly from an account in the Socialist Worker newspaper by two San Francisco emergency workers and labor leaders who were in a crowd turned back by Gretna police.

The fact that Gretna's decision might not be mostly based on race seems to elude the Times' crack reporter, as he finds that some Gretnaians are afraid of NO...
Then, the LAT has a little new information:

Like New Orleans, Gretna lost power and water. Town officials pleaded unsuccessfully for help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Then they learned that New Orleans officials had told the thousands trapped in that city's downtown, similarly deprived of food and water but also dodging gunfights and rising floodwaters, to cross to Gretna.

This happened a few days before "the incident". Gretna organized buses on Aug. 31 to take evacuees to a food distro center in Metairie. But, people clogged up at the bridge, and things started to spiral out of control.
There were looters and a fire at the mall, and the sheriff decided that was it.

"I said: 'There will be bloodshed on the west bank if this continues,' " Harris recalled. " 'This is not Gretna. I am not going to give up our community!' "
The following morning, Gretna's police chief made his decision: Seal the bridge.

Regarding the gunshots:

Chief Lawson said that he was unaware of any of his officers shooting over the heads of evacuees on the bridge but said that one black officer did fire a shot overhead to quiet an unruly crowd waiting to board a bus.

Overall, I'm going to give the LAT a higher score on this than the NYT, which simply regurgitated the socialist's original screed.

Some examples of Katrina's destruction

"Rescuers awed by ruin revealed as water recedes" isn't as in-depth as it could be, but:

... Flying over St. Bernard's Parish, the flight crew surveyed empty streets covered knee-deep in mud. Piles of destroyed cars were scattered all over the unidentifiable streets. While some homes were down to their foundations, others somehow had withstood Katrina's 145 mph winds.
The amount of water damage and mold, however, will eventually consume the homes, which might have to be leveled anyway, said Chief Warrant Officer Michael J. Knuppel...
...Continuing northwest into New Orleans proper, the amount of devastation did not decrease. Highways into the downtown area once jam-packed were completely desolate.
The Superdome, where thousands of residents crammed in to seek shelter, was left abandoned, with huge portions of its dome destroyed by wind and smoke...

That's odd. I don't recall a fire there...

The smell from residential areas submerged in water continued into the downtown area of New Orleans...

MR-Gulf Outlet canal under scrutiny; "express lane" for the surge

The NYT article linked in "St. Bernard Parish defenseless from storms til 2006" also includes this:

[St. Bernard Parish], which unlike New Orleans lies above sea level, was protected by the levee from the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a canal built by the corps that is now a subject of scrutiny. Completion of the canal four decades ago allowed saltwater intrusion that, the corps acknowledges, was a factor in the death of marshes that once helped protect the city from storm surges. Some experts say the canal may also have provided an express lane for the Aug. 29 surge to reach populated areas.


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