I just read this article & as much as I can understand and feel the frustration of the people directly effected, I am also feeling that no matter what the corps does – they are the enemy. You can only scold a child so much before it become ineffective, you have to praise them once in a while. Yesterday I saw a bunch of NOLA local workers sweating their butts off in the heat doing manual labor to try and help this great city. Just saying – sometimes people deserve a little praise for doing their job!
At my first stab at being armed with some knowledge of the storm and the Corps of Engineers, I will analyze the article-casual Greta blogger style:
WAPO: A $3 million experiment by the Army Corps of Engineers this week will simulate the conditions that caused some of the levee failures that led to Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous flooding.
GRETA: From what I know, the levees didn’t fail – they over-topped but remained intact. Some have even been improved and upgraded.
WAPO: “Some computations show the wall is going to fail at certain water levels; some show it won’t,” said Ray Martin, a geotechnical engineer consulting with the Corps on the project. “This experiment will let us know.”
GRETA: This is a good experiment. They are trying to raise the safe level of water they will allow to stay in the canal. This will the city pump more water into the canal during heavy rains = less street flooding.
WAPO: The fact that such an experiment is necessary reflects the uncertainty that continues to surround the question of exactly what caused the city’s flood defenses to fail.
GRETA: They do know and it was explained to me very clearly and diagrammed as well. No mystery for this one.
WAPO: Did a major man-made shipping channel known as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet allow the storm surge to slam the city?
GRETA: How about a major storm called Katrina. That wall has been improved and will be made even higher.
WAPO: Equally as important — and, perhaps more important to the thousands who are suing the Corps — is the question of whether government agencies and contractors who built the levees and flood walls are guilty of negligence or wrongdoing.
GRETA: My heart goes out to anyone who lost their house, life and/or belongings during the storm. There has got to be some assumed risk when you live where you do. Won’t touch this any further – plead ignorance.
WAPO: “The bottom line is that this city was destroyed, and the public doesn’t yet have an undisputed explanation,” said Sandy Rosenthal, director of Levees.org, a local advocacy group. “There are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered.”
GRETA: Ms. Rosenthal is not leading the Corps fan club. But hello – this was the most powerful recorded storm that EVER hit North America.
WAPO: Levees.org has been agitating for improved flood defenses and urging politicians to establish an “8/29 commission,” a congressional body modeled after the Sept. 11 commission.
GRETA: Oy vey – more wasted government spending.
WAPO: “There have been numerous studies about Katrina, without any clear direction of how to prevent a flood-control-system failure in the future,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who has embraced the proposal and sought to introduce it into legislation.
GRETA: From what I saw and heard on Friday – they are busting the Corps and their contractors are butts to make this city safer than ever. Now let’s clean up the criminals!
WAPO: In its most recent review of the Army Corps’ Katrina report, the NRC panel noted the existence of differing views of the “primary failure mechanism[s]” in the canal walls and warned that “the proposal of a single failure mechanism could lead future designers to focus on narrowly drawn conclusions, leading to neglect of other, equally plausible failure modes.”
GRETA: I didn’t hear anyone suggest a single failure mechanism.
WAPO: Robert G. Bea, one of the leaders of the Berkeley team of investigators has called for an 8/29 commission “to truly understand why these failures developed” because “the Corps is still not designing things safely enough.”
GRETA: Isn’t this the guy that tasted sewage water after the storm?
WAPO: The critical canal walls that are the subject of the upcoming test, and ones like it, are relatively simple structures: concrete walls supported by steel sheet pilings driven deep into the soil.
GRETA: Simple – I don’t think so. I certainly couldn’t build one!
WAPO: Last week in the Gentilly neighborhood, as residents still rebuilding their homes watched construction workers section off a portion of the canal for the test, many alternately wondered and worried over whether such certainty is achievable.
GRETA: Is anything certain? You could get hit by a bus tomorrow! But in my world – you live long and prosper. I am optimistic that way!
(c/p at NOLA.com)