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Bush warned of possible Levee breach?
Posted by: mcq on Thursday, March 02, 2006

In an apparent surprise to everyone, video of a presidential conference on the landfall of Katrina points out that the feds, while claiming to be prepared, weren't:
In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
Uh, OK. My guess is that particular briefing could have been made for decades preceding Katrian, everytime a hurricane even hinted of approaching New Orleans and I further guess that the same response would have been forthcoming.

Hello? They weren't prepared. That's been made abundantly clear to everyone for quite some time. This merely confirms what we already knew.

Any questions?

UPDATE [Jon Henke]

I think the lesson the White House should learn is that a disaster response should never incude a phrase like "nobody expected" (e.g., "a breach of the levees", "that they would try to use an airplane as a missile").

However, Captain Ed brings up an interesting point about this story: while the media reports claim that "federal disaster officials warned President Bush ... that the storm could breach levees", the tape doesn't seem to substantiate that claim...
However, that's not what the tape shows, at least the portion aired by the AP and NBC on their broadcast last night (available at MS-NBC at the above link). What is does show is an expert saying to the group, "At this point, we don't know whether the levees will be overtopped or not."
Dafydd ab Hugh has more at Big Lizards...
if the video footage offered by AP in support of this accusation is the best AP has... then I have to flatly state that writers Margaret Ebrahim and John Solomon are liars. Because in fact, the video footage shows no such warning, either inside or outside the meeting, that Katrina might "breach levees."

The video shows one person — a TV weatherman, not a person in the presidential emergency briefing, as AP tries to make it appear — warning that people could be in danger if the levees were "overtopped." Overtopping is not breaching, as common sense and English as our primary language should tell us.
Dafydd also wonders what action a prior warning about possible breach could have initiated at that point.

I don't know. Maybe there's more to the video than what's been shown so far. If not, though, this is a disturbing episode of media sloppiness, akin to claiming that John Doe is a pedophile based on a video in which John Doe claims to "love children". What? Oh, well, we can't be bothered to differentiate between loving children and loving children.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Of course, it would seem that no one was was prepared even for a serious overtopping of the levees. I don’t blame the administration for the fact that Katrina was a remarkable disaster, but it is clear that they really didn’t take it seriously, assuming that it would be just another hurricane.

I do fault the administration for its response to the disaster and has long caused me to question whether we know what we are doing, and would react properly in the case of a serious terrorist attack—especially since that was what DHS is supposed to be ready for.
 
Written By: Steven Taylor
URL: http://poliblogger.com
Yeah, I’m not disputing the fact that the Federal government was pitifully unprepared and reacted poorly. That much is beyond dispute.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Popular Mechanics did a piece mythbusting Katrina this month. One of their major debunked myths was how bad the federal response was. In fact the response set records for both speed and quantity. Could they have done better? Yes. Was the response an unmitigated disaster in and of itself like many portray it? Absolutely not.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
Also, Steven Taylor, the levees were never overtopped. The specific cause of the disaster that they were warned about never happened.

Instead inadequately (I’d say fraudulently) built levees failed that were many decades old failed in circumstances they were supposed to withstand.

Also, what Jeff said.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
No, actually they were overtopped... as the trancript of the video shows...

There is some selective quoting going on with regards to the video...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,186553,00.html

President Bush said:
I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm to help you deal with the loss of property.
Now, that seems more a general statment that the Federal government was fully prepared to help, not that the Federal government was full prepared for every conceivable possibility.

And as Jeff stated, Popular Mechanics has a report which seems to bust many of the popular myths that the mainstream media (and the usual suspects) have created about the response. Also, one should read the whole transcript, as they go through the risks and preparations being made.

Another interesting note from the transcripts, is that hardly ANY questions were raised during the briefings. Local, State, or Federal.

Also of note is that the President had received seperate breifings on the Federal response earlier than the meeting presented as evidence that the President was uninterested in what was going on (from the lack of questions.)

Could it be that he had his questions answered in those earlier meetings?

The response could have been better, I suppose, if the Federal government had taken charge on the Friday before the storm, and forcibly removed everyone below the level of the lake. Only by removing those most at risk, could the response have been "better."

I think the worst response was from the media and the politicians.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Maybe there’s more to the video than what’s been shown so far. If not, though, this is a disturbing episode of media sloppiness...

****

Why is this disturbing, it is just another case of the media forcing the facts around their argument?

Isn’t the new standard "Fake but accurate"...

That is what I’ve come to expect from the media these days. That is why I rely on the internet, and blogs to inform me of the facts of the matter. That is why it took me a whole 20 minutes of reading the actual complete transcripts of the meetings to come up with the quotes above...

All you need to do is read the complete transcript, vs what is being selectively quoted and harped on by most of the mainstream media, to see the vast gulf between reality and what is reported.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
That is also why I no longer form my opinions of a matter from what is reported in the mainstream media.

They are that reliably unreliable.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Also, Steven Taylor, the levees were never overtopped.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why NO flooded. Does anyone think the response would’ve been different if the flooding was caused by a massive Cat 4/5 storm (which was possible) overtopping the levees rather than flooding caused by levee breaches? No one was prepared for a massive flood even though the potential has been discussed for years and years.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
They way you prepare for a massive flood is to get out of the way before it floods. As it was, the evacuation before the storm, was good. And the rescue operations afterwards were heroic, and largely successfull.

And since people still want to make claims... How about some facts:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2315076.html?page=2&c=y
MYTH: "The aftermath of Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history."—Aaron Broussard, president, Jefferson Parish, La., Meet the Press, NBC, Sept. 4, 2005

REALITY: Bumbling by top disaster-management officials fueled a perception of general inaction, one that was compounded by impassioned news anchors. In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest—and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm’s landfall.

Dozens of National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters flew rescue operations that first day—some just 2 hours after Katrina hit the coast. Hoistless Army helicopters improvised rescues, carefully hovering on rooftops to pick up survivors. On the ground, "guardsmen had to chop their way through, moving trees and recreating roadways," says Jack Harrison of the National Guard. By the end of the week, 50,000 National Guard troops in the Gulf Coast region had saved 17,000 people; 4000 Coast Guard personnel saved more than 33,000.

These units had help from local, state and national responders, including five helicopters from the Navy ship Bataan and choppers from the Air Force and police. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries dispatched 250 agents in boats. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state police and sheriffs’ departments launched rescue flotillas. By Wednesday morning, volunteers and national teams joined the effort, including eight units from California’s Swift Water Rescue. By Sept. 8, the waterborne operation had rescued 20,000.

While the press focused on FEMA’s shortcomings, this broad array of local, state and national responders pulled off an extraordinary success—especially given the huge area devastated by the storm. Computer simulations of a Katrina-strength hurricane had estimated a worst-case-scenario death toll of more than 60,000 people in Louisiana. The actual number was 1077 in that state.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2315076.html?page=7&c=y
EVAC PLANS WORKED

MYTH: "The failure to evacuate was the tipping point for all the other things that ... went wrong."—Michael Brown, former FEMA director, Sept. 27, 2005

REALITY: When Nagin issued his voluntary evacuation order, a contraflow plan that turned inbound interstate lanes into outbound lanes enabled 1.2 million people to leave New Orleans out of a metro population of 1.5 million. "The Corps estimated we would need 72 hours [to evacuate that many people]," says Brian Wolshon, an LSU civil engineer. "Instead, it took 38 hours." Later investigations indicated that many who stayed did so by choice. "Most people had transportation," says Col. Joe Spraggins, director of emergency management in Harrison County, Ala. "Many didn’t want to leave." Tragic exceptions: hospital patients and nursing home residents.
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2315076.html?page=5&c=y
FLOODWALLS WERE BUILT PROPERLY

MYTH: "Perhaps not just human error was involved [in floodwall failures]. There may have been some malfeasance."—Raymond Seed, civil engineering professor, UC, Berkeley, testifying before a Senate committee, Nov. 2, 2005

REALITY: Most of the New Orleans floodwall failures occurred when water up to 25 ft. high overtopped the barriers, washing out their foundations. But three breached floodwalls—one in the 17th Street Canal and two in the London Avenue Canal—showed no signs of overtopping. Accusations of malfeasance were born after the Army Corps of Engineers released seismic data suggesting that the sheet-pile foundations supporting those floodwalls were 7 ft. shorter than called for in the design—a possible cause for collapse. In December 2005, PM watched Corps engineers pull four key sections of the 17th Street Canal foundation out of the New Orleans mud. The sections were more than 23 ft. long—as per design specifications. "I had heard talk about improper building before the sheet-pile pull," the Corps’ Wayne Stroupe says. "But not much since."
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
"They are that reliably unreliable"

Amen, brother.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
the evacuation before the storm, was good. And the rescue operations afterwards were heroic, and largely successfull.
Over 1000 people died.
In America.
In the 21st century.
Because of a Hurricane.

Not many people have the balls to call that "successful."

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Out of a city that had 1.5 MILLION people... 1.2 million evacuated. 70,000 rescued. A little over 1000 dead.

Yeah, I will say that is largely successfull.

When the predictions were that a Cat-5 hurricane would cause 60,0000 dead.

When Nagin was railing during the rescue that there were going to be 10,000 dead.

When 3000 died in the World Trade Center.

When 3000 died as the result of heatwaves in France.

Yes, I will say that the evac and rescue efforts were largely successfull.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Does anyone think the response would’ve been different if the flooding was caused by a massive Cat 4/5 storm (which was possible) overtopping the levees rather than flooding caused by levee breaches?
If the levees are breached, then you have to devote manpower/resources to plug the hole(s). If they are merely overtopped, then you re-allocate those resources to search/rescue and rely on the pumps to get rid of the overflow.

And IndyKeith, that 1,000 figure represents the total for Katrina deaths for the entire Gulf Coast, not just New Orleans. Given the population in the area is roughly 3.5 million (give or take a Yazoo City or two), I’d say only 1,000 dead is a minor miracle.
 
Written By: SaveFarris
URL: http://
Actually, I think the 1077 was the death toll in Louisiana, but the point of it remains...

For the massive size of the hurricane, the loss in life, was not as great as it could have been.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Keith, Indy Wrote:
"No, actually they were overtopped... as the trancript of the video shows..."
Uh. Dude. It is quite possible that unlike what I have consistently heard since the hurricane hit, that the levees were overtopped in some minor way, maybe by whitecaps off of Ponchartrain.

They were not overtopped in the sense that was talked about before the storm, that if a Cat 4/5 storm made a direct hit, that the storm surge would be higher than the levees. That unequivocally DID NOT happen.

Also the video CANNOT show the levees were overtopped, because the video transcript at this link, the link you gave...

...it was taken BEFORE the storm hit.

Form the page the link points to, emphasis mine:
"The following is a transcript of a discussion held among federal, state and local officials on Aug. 28, 2005, the day before Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans:"
And I can’t resist adding, you dumba$$.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
JWG said:

Over 1000 people died.
In America.
In the 21st century.
Because of a Hurricane.
Not many people have the balls to call that "successful."
Too bad Mayor Nagin (Democrat) ignored his own disaster plan and did not mobilize hundreds of available busses to move people out (12,000 per trip). Mayor Nagin (Democrat) sat on his butt because he didn’t want to damage commercial interests. People died because Mayor Nagin (Democrat - did I mention that?) didn’t do his job.

And yet, let’s look on the bright side - right or wrong, this is something to club Bush with. That’s certainly worth 1,000 American lives to your average fear-mongering, hate-spewing, truth-twisting Democratic partisan demagogue.

Come on, admit it - you’d gladly see 10,000 more Americans die if you could pin it on BushChimpHitler. You are that irrational and that deranged. You know it’s true, you just "don’t have the balls" to admit it.
 
Written By: k smith
URL: http://
I will suppose that you didn’t bother to follow the link to the discussions of Aug 29th...

The following is a transcript of a discussion held among federal, state and local officials on Aug. 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina came ashore in Louisiana:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,186554,00.html
JOE HAGIN: Yeah, what’s the current status of the levee system and the roof of the Superdome?

DIRECTOR RHODE: Louisiana, did you receive that question? Louisiana, are you there?

GOVERNOR BLANCO: Kathleen Blanco.

The Superdome structure is still sound, as far as we know. Some of the roof materials have peeled off, creating a situation where there is leaking onto the floor of the Dome.

We have some 10, 12, 15,000 people in there. They were on the floor of the Dome itself, but they have been moved up into the upper areas of the Dome. We still have a lot of room up there. It’s just a matter of leaking and not structural damage that we know of at this point in time.

What was your other question? The levees.

We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is coming over the levees. We heard a report unconfirmed. I think we have not breached the levee. We have not breached the levee at this point in time. That could change, but in some places we have floodwaters coming in New Orleans East and the line St. Bernard Parish where we have waters that are eight to ten feet deep, and we have people swimming in there, that’s got a considerable amount of water itself.

That’s about all I know right now on the specifics that you haven’t heard. And we are still very concerned, and we will have to have an important search and rescue mission operation, so that as quickly as we can when the winds have stopped and we can reasonably and safely get people in there to check on all the calls that we have received.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
The more I read, the more I’m convinced that what happened in Katrina was typical bureaucratic snafuism. Anybody who expects an entity as massive as the federal government to move swiftly and efficiently is an idiot. That’s why local government is given the job of being first-responders. That’s what happened in New York on 9/11 and that’s what didn’t happen in New Orleans during Katrina. We can do all the studies and commissions and finger-pointing and Bush-blaming that we want to, it won’t change the fact that the federal government is too big and bureaucratic (just like the left wants it) to be relied upon to do anything more that what it actually did.

As for the "warnings" on the latest tape, it strikes me like a coach who approaches his owner on the day before the Super Bowl and says "I don’t think our game plan is good enough to beat these guys." What is the owner supposed to do at that point? That’s the coach’s job. If FEMA was unprepared, isn’t that primarily the director of FEMA’s fault?

Grow up, babies, and stop thinking the President of the United States is going to come to your rescue when trouble strikes. That’s not his job. It’s the job of your local government. The feds are too big to be useful immediately — the best they can realistically be expected to do is write the checks afterwards without too much red tape.

And, I agree, given the predictions and what could have happened, 1077 dead is pretty low, all things considered (primarily that many people who heard the evacuation warnings simply didn’t leave). If FEMA had done everything all its critics reasonably wanted to have done but state and local officials’ conduct was unchanged, the number of dead might have been as low as 1070 or so. If every government official on all levels had done everything just exactly perfect (an impossibility), there still would have been hundreds dead simply from people who refused to leave.

The problem with the blame-Bush approach is that it will lead people to think that once Bush is gone, everything will be all right. It won’t, the federal government will be just as big and bureaucratic as it is now, if not more so.

People need to do a better job of relying on themselves to survive and stop relying on a bloated national bureacracy. That’s what killed thousands of French people during a heat wave a couple years ago, and that’s what killed most of those who died in Katrina. "Oh, I don’t have to leave. If it gets bad, the government will save me."

Wrong!
 
Written By: Dave H.
URL: http://
Over 1000 people died.
In America.
In the 21st century.
Because of a Hurricane.

Not many people have the balls to call that "successful."
It is the 21st century, and this is America. And the majority of that 1000 exercised their liberty to do as they saw fit ...and that was to stay in a potential flood zone. With liberty comes responsibility.
 
Written By: coffee
URL: http://
Why does anyone think being American in the 21st century somehow renders you immune to Acts of Nature?
The liberal left may have promised cradle-to-grave protection from pain and suffering, but technology cannot cure/prevent ignorance, nor stupidity.
Staying in a below-sea-level area with a Cat-3 Hurricane on the way is another form of suicide.
 
Written By: Nathan
URL: http://brain.mu.nu/
Keith, the part you emphasized proves my point.

"We keep getting reports in some places that maybe water is coming over the levees. We heard a report unconfirmed. I think we have not breached the levee. We have not breached the levee at this point in time. That could change, but in some places we have floodwaters coming in New Orleans East"

Unconfirmed, I repeat, unconfirmed. They never would be confirmed, because it didn’t happen. The waters never rose past the levee, the levees gave way. If you have any actual evidence whatsoever the levees were overtopped in the manner discussed in the earlier video, since it isn’t in the later video, you might share it now.

I could see on the video taken that day that the water level was below the tops of the levees. Did you not see that? If the levees had been overtopped as described in the Cat4/5 scenarios, no water would have been flowing in because it was already full.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Come on, admit it - you’d gladly see 10,000 more Americans die if you could pin it on BushChimpHitler. You are that irrational and that deranged. You know it’s true, you just "don’t have the balls" to admit it.
Wow, make a claim that the government didn’t do a great job and I get labeled as a "deranged" leftist who finds joy in the deaths of thousands of citizens. Thanks for the laugh!
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Staying in a below-sea-level area with a Cat-3 Hurricane on the way is another form of suicide.
The majority of deaths in New Orleans were elderly people who could not get necessary care. Your humanity underwhelms me.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/2315076.html?page=5&c=y
FLOODWALLS WERE BUILT PROPERLY

MYTH: "Perhaps not just human error was involved [in floodwall failures]. There may have been some malfeasance."—Raymond Seed, civil engineering professor, UC, Berkeley, testifying before a Senate committee, Nov. 2, 2005

REALITY: Most of the New Orleans floodwall failures occurred when water up to 25 ft. high overtopped the barriers, washing out their foundations. But three breached floodwalls—one in the 17th Street Canal and two in the London Avenue Canal—showed no signs of overtopping. Accusations of malfeasance were born after the Army Corps of Engineers released seismic data suggesting that the sheet-pile foundations supporting those floodwalls were 7 ft. shorter than called for in the design—a possible cause for collapse. In December 2005, PM watched Corps engineers pull four key sections of the 17th Street Canal foundation out of the New Orleans mud. The sections were more than 23 ft. long—as per design specifications. "I had heard talk about improper building before the sheet-pile pull," the Corps’ Wayne Stroupe says. "But not much since."
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
JWG said:

The majority of deaths in New Orleans were elderly people who could not get necessary care. Your humanity underwhelms me.
And yet you blame the feds. I think the local Democratic officials should be held responsible for nursing homes and hospitals in their neighborhoods, don’t you? Maybe they just didn’t care. Or were incompetent. But at least they support the leftist agenda (or say they do).

Floridian emergency response teams were on the ground hours after Katrina passed. They were stunned at the lack of preparedness. Maybe Democrat Kathleen Blanco could learn a few things from Republican Jeb Bush about being a good governor.

Yet you want to lay these dead at the feet of the feds, because they are Republican, and excuse State and local officials, because they are Democratic. Your humanity - and intellectual honesty - underwhelms me.
 
Written By: k smith
URL: http://
Keith beats a dead horse and remains nonsensical in writing/quoting:

"FLOODWALLS WERE BUILT PROPERLY"

No they weren’t. They were supposed to take a Cat 3.

They didn’t.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
One of the levees which broke was containing a finger of water extending into the city - why wasn’t the perimeter minimized here and elsewhere, and the resources re-applied to the necessary levees?

Why wasn’t the New Orleans "bowl" broken up with internal levees to limit the damage to the entire city should a breach occur?

Local officials had decades to plan for Katrina, both to lessen the possibility of disaster and to minimize the fallout from disaster. They blew it.

 
Written By: k smith
URL: http://
Yet you want to lay these dead at the feet of the feds, because they are Republican, and excuse State and local officials, because they are Democratic. Your humanity - and intellectual honesty - underwhelms me.
Again, you mistake being disappointed with "government" response with me being a partisan favoring Democrats. You make yourself look idiotic with that kind of thinking considering I am far from being a supporter of Democrats. I have posted on this site for a long time. You are welcome to point out any evidence of my liberal tendancies.

Additionally, I must have missed the part where I blamed Bush or "the feds" for the entire tragedy. Care to point out where I made such a statement?

My argument was that no one was prepared for a worst case scenario, which was predicted as possible not only in the days before the hurricane but for years. Whether the disaster was caused by overtopping or breaching is immaterial to the fact that we weren’t ready to help many people survive. To consider hundreds of people dying over the course of a few days because they couldn’t get food, water, and medical help a "success" when we knew about the coming disaster ahead of time is ridiculous. Furthermore, to blame the elderly victims for their own helplessness is disgusting.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
what ever...

Most of the New Orleans floodwall failures occurred when water up to 25 ft. high overtopped the barriers, washing out their foundations.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Local officials had decades to plan for Katrina, both to lessen the possibility of disaster and to minimize the fallout from disaster.
Agreed. Multiple agencies had responsibilities and their performances were far from adequate. Unless you are going to agree with Keith that the federal government’s role was "successful"? But be careful...unless you pledge your unwaivering support to Bush, then you are a deranged liberal who hopes for more deaths in order to blame Bush.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
To consider hundreds of people dying over the course of a few days because they couldn’t get food, water, and medical help a "success" when we knew about the coming disaster ahead of time is ridiculous.
To think that everyone could be saved, when many of them ignored the most basic survival instinct (ie run away from danger,) is what is ridiculous.

And I will have to state you must have a reading problem.

I SAID THE EVAC AND RESCUE EFFORTS WERE LARGELY SUCCESSFULL

That, of course, means they weren’t completely successfull.

So because we didn’t save every single last person, the effort is failure?

That is an unreasonable level of proficiency that will never be met in our lifetime.

Unless of course, you are for forcing people from their homes by gun point and shipping them off to shelters.

And so far as I know, nobody has been able to count how many people died as a result of what causes. So how many people died because they couldn’t get food, water, or medical help. As oppossed to how many people died because they were trapped in their homes as the water rose. And how many people died because of direct storm damage. And how many people died of natural causes, such as heart attacks, who may or may not have been saved had a disaster not occurred.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
RESCUE EFFORTS WERE LARGELY SUCCESSFULL...So because we didn’t save every single last person, the effort is failure?
There’s a big difference between saving "every single last person" and hundreds of people dying for lack of resources. Communication systems weren’t available. There was not enough (and STILL are not enough) medical services available. Many people didn’t have access to food, water, and air conditioning. I would love to see how long President Keith would remain in office if he went on TV after Katrina and announced rescue efforts were "largely successful."
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Keith and Tom:


From the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Preliminary Report on the Performance of the New Orleans Levee Systems:

Most of the levee and floodwall failures were caused by overtopping, as the storm surge rose over the tops of the levees and/or their floodwalls and produced erosion/scour that subsequently led to failures and breaches.

[...]

Farther to the west, in the Orleans East Bank Canal District, three levee failures occurred along the banks of the 17th Street and London Avenue Canals. Evidence that we observed indicates that these failures occurred when water levels were below the tops of the floodwalls lining these canals.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
"Not many people have the balls to call that "successful.""

Not many people have the arrogance to think that we are more powerful than nature, or the ignorance to think that government can control every aspect of everyone’s behavior all the time.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Not many people have the arrogance to think that we are more powerful than nature, or the ignorance to think that government can control every aspect of everyone’s behavior all the time.
Good grief. We knew a powerful storm was coming. We knew there was a potential for disaster. We have had years to plan a response from the Feds to the local level. But I’m arrogant to think that we couldn’t save a bunch of old people from dying after a storm passes through and prevents them from accessing food, water, and medical care.

As far as controlling their behavior, you seem to imply these people shouldn’t expect a better response to their emergency because some of them chose to stay behind. How do you know who chose to put themselves in that situation and who had no choice? You must try to save them all. We missed hundreds.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
JWG: You said...
The majority of deaths in New Orleans were elderly people who could not get necessary care.


Please prove that with some facts or figures, because as of yet, I’ve not seen any statistics of the dead. And it seems to be at the heart of your argument that we should have done more for the elderly.

Of course, the people in charge of the elderly down there, had the responsibility to do something about them. Whether that was a hospital, nursing/retirement home, neighbors, or the cities social services.

Fact is, that the people closest to that particular problem had the responsibilty, and failed in it.

Let me amend this...

http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/publications/pubs-192/Deceased%20Victims_2-16-2006_information.pdf

Age # %
0 to 5 1 >1%
6 to 10 1 >1%
11 to 15 4 >1%
16 to 20 5 1%
21 to 30 9 2%
31 to 40 23 3%
41 to 50 72 8%
51 to 60 112 14%
61 to 75 188 25%
> 75 372 39%
* UNKNOWN 28 6%

A majority of the dead (560) were elderly (61 and over) but there are no causes of death listed. It’s a good bet that most died because they were not evacuated prior to the storm.

And they should have been handled with the resources Mayor Nagin had at his disposal.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Another thing missing from those statistics, is when they died.

During the storm, before the floods, after the floods, waiting for rescue.

The simple fact is, evacuating before the storm, would have given them their best chance for living.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Some more info on the levees...

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-4/1137999658140350.xml
But it was a different story south of West Pointe a la Hache, where damage was more severe and much more frequent. There were many spots where topping caused scouring on the land side of the levee between West Pointe a la Hache and Port Sulphur, although nothing serious enough to threaten a levee breach, said Mark Gonski, the corps’ project manager for Plaquemines Parish.

The worst damage was in the Empire-to-Buras section, where "I" walls built atop the 17-foot river levee for hurricane protection took a beating. Topped along its entire length, the land-side soil support for the "I" walls was so eroded that many sections were pushed toward land and one 200-foot reach was toppled almost horizontal.

Gonski said the corps originally was rushing to make repairs in that section by Dec. 1, when the river normally begins to rise. But the agency caught a break with an exceptionally low river this winter. It isn’t forecast to begin its annual rise until February, by which time repairs will be completed, Gonski said.

Despite the damage to the "I" walls, corps officials said the main river levee suffered little damage from the storm even in that region. To ensure stronger hurricane protection in the future, damaged sections of the "I" walls are being removed and the levees will be enlarged to increase their heights.

"The ’I’ walls were originally used because the local communities didn’t want to give up land to do a setback with bigger levees," Gonski said. "That’s a reasonable request, because there isn’t much land down there to begin with.

"But we’re not going back that way: No more ’I’ walls. We’re not doing actual setbacks, but an enlargement, which will give us the height we need but with more support."

East side unguarded

Even if the "I" walls had held firm, Gonski and Mashriqui said, the communities on the west bank of the lower river still would have been inundated by Katrina’s surge because of a lack of levees on the east side in that area, a point that highlights the effectiveness of the river levee system in storm protection.

As the big storm plowed ashore at Buras, its counterclockwise rotation meant sustained 115-mph winds were sweeping across Breton Sound from the east and northeast. Corps modeling shows the storm basically moved Breton Sound across eastern Plaquemines Parish to the river. The storm surge at Pointe a la Hache reached 20.4 feet, with waves on top of that as high as 10 feet, models show.

North of Pointe a la Hache, the east bank river levee provided a substantial wind and water break that dramatically reduced the impact on the west bank levees and the communities it sheltered, Mashriqui said. Little of the surge that crushed the east side of Plaquemines made it to the west bank north of Pointe a la Hache.

Communities south of Pointe a la Hache didn’t have that protection, and the result was heartbreaking.

Storm modelers said the surge and waves swamped the river and the levees south of Port Sulphur with as much as 40 feet of water — enough to float huge oceangoing fishing vessels out of marinas and across Louisiana 23. When the storm was over, Port Sulphur, Homeplace, Empire, Buras and Venice were under as much as 15 feet of water trapped between the river levee and a smaller hurricane protection levee built between the western edge of the communities and the wetlands of the Barataria estuary.

"But even though they were overtopped, they held up," Mashriqui said. "There were no breaches. They did much better than the levees along (the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet) or the other canals in New Orleans.

"That’s how levees should be built everywhere in this area."


A different plan


Corps officials said that local hurricane levees were built differently than the river levees for two major reasons. First, because hurricane storm surge typically lasts less than half a day, hurricane levees are not expected to absorb large amounts of water or be subjected to maximum-pressure loads for long periods of time; they typically are not as massive as a river levee that might have to hold water for weeks or months every year.

Another critical difference in the design concepts for the two systems, corps officials said, is that the river levee was built to handle the worst that could be thrown at it, while the hurricane protection system was designed for something less than the strongest hurricane.

"After the 1927 flood, the nation made a commitment never to let that happen again, so the design criteria (the corps) had was for the worst that could ever happen — something that might not occur again for 400 to 450 years," said Al Naomi, a senior project manager at the New Orleans office. "In some (areas) the (river) levee was overbuilt, but that was done because the design criteria we were given was to build for the maximum possible flood.

"That wasn’t the case with the hurricane protection project here."

The 1965 congressional authorization for the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project was based on what the corps described in its 1962 planning document as the "standard project hurricane," which would have maximum sustained winds of 100 mph in a radius of 30 nautical miles, and a storm surge of 11.2 feet on the south shore of the lake. That translates approximately into a fast-moving Category 3 storm. The report said the probability of that occurring is once every 200 years.

But the report also identified what it called the "probable maximum hurricane," which would have sustained winds of 115 mph and a storm surge on the south shore of the lake of 12.7 feet. Katrina produced both those.

Naomi said the report shows Congress clearly chose not to supply the maximum protection for hurricanes as it did for Mississippi River floods.

"Obviously we can design levees that work, it’s just a question of to what degree you are willing to invest in that system to make them work," he said.

To storm modeler Mashriqui, the answer is obvious.

"You can see which levee system worked and which didn’t," he said. "It’s pretty clear that the levees on the east bank probably prevented a lot of flooding on the west side of the river. That’s a lesson the planners should be looking at."
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
And they should have been handled with the resources Mayor Nagin had at his disposal.
To hell with them, then? Those who survived the initial storm should have been rescued. FEMA should have the resources and planning to coordinate the post-disaster efforts. The fact that they were not rescued demonstrates that the response was not something to brag about.
A majority of the dead (560) were elderly (61 and over) but there are no causes of death listed.
Natural disasters typically kill people proportionally across age groups. Katrina was a major exception. Why would the elderly die in greater numbers in this case?
1) Too weak to swim during flooding
2) Unable to withstand stress
3) Unable to get necessary medication or other daily medical needs
4) Unable to withstand water/food depravation

FEMA can’t do anything about #1
FEMA can do something about #2-4 by getting resources were they are needed.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
OH, keep going on your blame the Federal government first tirade. You just don’t get it.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
keep going on your blame the Federal government first
I can’t seem to find where I blamed anyone "first." I also can’t find where you blamed the federal government at all.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://

 
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