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New Orleans Levee Failure Assessment

Posted on 09/23/2005 5:02:54 AM PDT by jeffers

This is part four of a five part series examining the Hurricane Katrina levee failures.


Part 1 is a timeline sequence of who reported what flood events, to whom, and when it was reported. It can be found here:

Part I: Hurricane Katrina Flood Report Sequence


Part 2 is a discussion of the levee system's viability, or lack thereof, prior to Hurricane Katrina. It can be found here:

Part II: Pre-Katrina Levee Assessment


Part 3 is a discussion of the overall storm surge sequence, levee failure modes, and causal limitations relating to the 17th Street Canal and London Canal seawall breaches. It can be found here:

Part III: Downtown New Orleans Levee Failures


Part 4, this part, is an assessment of the current functionality and status of the levee systems in St. Bernards and East Orleans Parish.

The original intention for this section was to also include an analysis of the flood sequence in St. Bernard's Parish and East Orleans Parish, and to arrive at some conclusions regarding whether or not the post storm empirical evidence supports the position that significant subsidence had rendered the levee systems fatally flawed before Hurricane Katrina, but that work will have to wait until section five now, because Hurricane Rita is just causing too much trouble and taking up too much time.

I choose not to wait and include everything together because some people are still located in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and this assessment has yet to reach the general public in its entirety, therefore, additional delay potentially places those persons at risk.

The primary foundation for this assessment rests on an experimental aerial photography/distribution technique developed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and links to this photographic database can be found here:

NOAA Post Katrina Overhead Imagery

The assessment for each of the two areas begins with a status map of that area's levee system, which is followed by a text summary of each notable feature as specified on the map, including a link to the imagery of that feature. The maps are roughly 200kb in size, while each individual sub-image runs between 30 and 160KB.



St. Bernard Parish Levee System Overview Map

Image hosted by Photobucket.com



St. Bernards Parish Levee System Post Katrina Damage Assessment



1. Levee/seawall topped by surge at arrow 1, moderate fill displacement, seawall flanked at arrow 2 with moderate fill displacement at arrow 2 and minor fill displacement at arrow 3. The larger of the barges in the image probably unseated the seawall on impact, loosening compacted fill behind the wall. The surge itself, or else disrupted flow over the smaller barges, caused scouring and potholing indicated by the arrows at 4.

Overhead Image



2. Surge topped levee from arrow 1 to 2 along the indicated direction, resulting in minor fill displacement on the inner face, and possible subgrade exposure indicated by arrow 5. A second surge apparantly did not top the levee from the direction of arrows 3 and 4, resulting in minor fill displacement on the levee's outer face. Assuming that the surge directions coincide with tangential winds at the time each event occurred, the surge indicated by arrows 1 and 2 took place shortly after passage of the eye's center, while the event indicated at arrows 3 and 4 occurred later in the storm.

Overhead Image



3. Inner face fill displacement indicates direction of surge at arrow 1. Barge atop seawall adjacent to flood control gate indicates surge topped seawall at arrow 2. Surge flanked seawall at arrow three, resulting in significant fill displacement. Easternmost flood control gate most likely inop at time of data capture. Topping at arrow 4 indicates levee cross section mostly intact. Barge at arrow 5 resting nearly at pre-storm levee crest, probably indicating that at least minimal vertical cross section remains intact. Full breaches at the remaining four non-numbered arrows.

Overhead Image



4. Numerous full breaches at arrows. Predominance of northwest trending fill deposition may indicate that these sections failed well prior to passage of the storm's eyewall.

Overhead Image



5. Catastrophic breaching. One section of levee possibly undamaged at arrow. Barge lengths estimated at 100 to 150 feet for reference. Fill deposition indicates wind driven surge trending due west at failure.

Overhead Image



6. Catastrophic breaching. No undamaged sections of levee visible.

Overhead Image



7. Catastrophic breaching. Twin pipelines exposed. Significant fill transport.

Overhead Image



8. Catastrophic breaching. Pipeline exposed. Some visibly undamaged levee sections left standing.

Overhead Image



9. Catastrophic breaching, left third of image, balance of levee shows intermittent full breaches. Wetland barrier between Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and Lake Borgne breached for approximately 1 mile, open to the Gulf of Mexico. Island at image's upper right is probably remnants from Martello Castle.

Overhead Image



10. Intermittent breaching/significant scouring and fill transport.

Overhead Image



11. Intermittent breaching/significant scouring and fill transport.

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12. Intermittent breaching/significant scouring and fill transport.

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13. Minor topping and scouring, subfill exposed at arrows.

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14. 200' full breach. Fill transport at arrows 1 and 2 indicates a probable bidirectional flow of water at different times during the flooding. Arrow 3 probably indicates another storm breach.

Overhead Image



14a. Two full breaches, water flowing out of populated area, height differential noted with levee center line at arrows 1, probably sand boils at arrows 2, 3, and 4 indicate probable percolation through levee to downstream face.

Overhead Image



15. Scouring and potholing at arrows. Fill displacement suggests topping occurred from inside to outside.

Overhead Image



16. Topped in direction of arrows. Minor fill transport.

Overhead Image



17. Seawall breach at arrow, may be deliberate opening of flood control structure.

Overhead Image



18. ***RIVER LEVEE*** Concrete or riprap facing displaced, numerous locations at arrows. River levee vulnerable to river wave action where facing no longer exists. Minor fill displacement at arrow 1 on inner face.

Overhead Image



19. ***RIVER LEVEE*** Concrete or riprap facing displaced, locations at arrows. River levee vulnerable to river wave action where facing no longer exists. Moderate fill displacement at arrow 1 on outer face.

Overhead Image



20. ***RIVER LEVEE***Concrete or riprap facing displaced, locations at arrows. River levee vulnerable to river wave action where facing no longer exists. Minor fill displacement at arrow 1 on inner face.

Overhead Image



21. 500' seawall breach, probably caused by loose barge, debris logjams at arrows 1 and 2, and the resting location of the barge at arrow 3, indicate the initial surge flow was in through the breach, though later the flow reversed, as shown in the image.

Overhead Image



22. Seawall breach, seawall remnant at arrow 1 indicates initial failure was inward, debris transport at arrows 2 and 3 indicate that Florida Canal breach (between the arrows) was in opposition to the seawall breach at arrow 1, at some point flow reversed direction at arrow 1 and flows out of the breach at the time the photo was taken.

Overhead Image



23. Minor potholing, fill displacement and scouring at arrows.

Overhead Image



24. All visible sections heavily abused. Fill displacement and transport at arrows probably indicates weakening.

Overhead Image



25. Multiple full breaches at arrows, fill transport away from breaches indicates significant flood velocities away from the populated area.

Overhead Image



26. Multiple breaches at arrows, fill transport and scouring at arrows 1, 2, and 3 indicate initial breachs from Violet Canal into populated areas, while cratering at arrow four may be due to wave action or may be due to populated areas overfilling with water topping the levee back out into the marshy areas later.

Overhead Image



27. Breach at arrow 1, probable breach at arrow 2. Debris in breach at arrow 1 indicates significant flow volume and velocity out of populated area, but wetting and scouring at arrows 3 and 4 indicates a counterflow at some point, into the populated area.

Overhead Image



28. Multiple breaches at arrows, debris deposition indicates flow into populated area.

Overhead Image



29. Numerous small pockmarks and fill displacements at arrows.

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30. Breaches at arrows. Minor flanking at both ends of pump station seawall. Fill removal pattern there indicates that flow direction was into the populated area.

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31. Breach at arrow, fill transport out of populated area, smooth and linear breach perimeter and presence of heavy equipment adjacent to breach indicate this is probably a deliberate breach.

Overhead Image



32. Numerous minor and moderate cave-ins and scoured areas on outer face, subfill exposed along inner face, events probably originated from both inside and outside.

Overhead Image



33. Possible breach or damage to flood control structure at arrow 1. Numerous pockmarks, boils and fill displacements at arrows.

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34. Possible subsistence issue, long stretch of levee under or nearly underwater.

Overhead Image









East Orleans Parish Levee Overview Map

Image hosted by Photobucket.com



East Orleans Parish Levee System Assessment



1. Isolated breach and partial collapse, probable cause; topped by rogue wave, secondary source of rural east Orleans flooding.

Overhead Image



2. Major breach, several areas of significant scouring, probable cause; liquefaction by sustained surge. Major contributing factor to rural east Orleans flooding.

Overhead Image



3. Multiple major breaches, topped by sustained surge, numerous full and partial breaches, wide areas of vegetation inside failed section removed by scouring, significant quantities of fill material deposited at considerable distances from point of origin. Major contributing factor to rural east Orleans flooding.

Overhead Image



4. Minor breach, flood control gate flanked by sustained surge, moderate amount of non-structural fill removed.

Overhead Image



5. Topping by sustained surge, moderate fill removal, some pocking and cratering but no full breaches visible.

Overhead Image



6. Minor Topping. Debris fields indicate considerable topping occurred, but little, if any damage or fill transport is visible.

Overhead Image



7. Minor topping. Well designed corner withstood peak winds with only minor wave topping on the Lake Pontchartrain section. Negligible fill quantities deposited on inner Lake section face, visible only under magnification. Flooded road atop levee indicates a depression there, not significant damage.

Overhead Image



8. Minor topping. Debris fields indicate frequent wave topping, but no fill appears to have been disturbed, with the possible exception of the inner face, upper left section of image.

Overhead Image



9. Certain small breach, probable major breach, critical components obscured by elevated freeway. If so, this is most likely the primary cause of urbanized east Orleans flooding, with inundation from Lake side wave topping secondary in effect. Sustained Lake surge at arrow 1 probably flanked or topped flood control gates at same location. Some flooding certainly took place as evidenced by displaced fill at arrow 2. Significantly more flooding probably occurred through waterway at arrow 3. Elevated freeway pylons at arrow 4 may have been undermined by scouring.

Overhead Image Zoom Overhead Image



10. Minor breach and moderate scour, probably due to Lake surge channelized between buildings.

Overhead Image



11. Major breach or significant surge/topping. Unclear if arrow 1 denotes a breach but two areas of fill displacement on inner face demonstrate flowing water in this area, as do rail cars pushed from tracks at arrow 3 and displaced shipping containers at arrows 2 and 4. Also interesting is an apparant reversal in surge flow as evidenced by displaced bright blue containers at arrow 5. This later and lesser surge is also evidenced by the oil slicks from parked cars at upper right of the image.

Overhead Image



12. Minor topping/scouring at arrows.

Overhead Image



13. Significant fill transport at arrows inside levee indicate a large area of surge topping and direction of travel. Gantry damage at arrow outside wall may indicate either wind direction or a surge reflection from the seawall.

Overhead Image



Even without delving into detailed analysis, certain conclusions are hard to miss.
1. Many or most failed sections were subjected to a storm surge far beyond their original design specifications.
2. Both Parish areas flooded from multiple levee breaches, from different directions, and at different times.
3. Many levee segments failed in multiple directions at different times during the storm's passage.
4. Notably absent are significant failures along the Intercoastal Waterway between the two Parish areas. Funneling did not result in levee failures in this area.


I have some thoughts on these issues already and have a good idea how the flooding sequence took place, but this is a good spot to leave off, if for no other reason than it's time to take a look at Rita and see if she's turned towards Houston since 1 am or not. Feel free to ask questions or raise issues not considered so far.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Front Page News; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; Technical; US: Louisiana; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: 229; blanco; canal; canals; corruption; flooding; hurricane; katrina; katrinafailures; landrieu; levee; leveeboard; levees; louisiana; nagin; neworleans; rita
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1 posted on 09/23/2005 5:02:58 AM PDT by jeffers
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To: jeffers; Brilliant; Gumdrop; nuconvert; visitor; Barnyard; carola; 1903A3; babble-on; ...

Ping.


2 posted on 09/23/2005 5:03:36 AM PDT by jeffers
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To: jeffers
* bump *

Thank you for the ping.

3 posted on 09/23/2005 5:06:47 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: Cboldt

Any time. If you see anything else on the subject, I'd appreciate a ping too.


4 posted on 09/23/2005 5:08:07 AM PDT by jeffers
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To: jeffers

This is exactly what you knew would come out. The new media will blow away the old ratmedia on this issue.
"Excellent work" seems pale to say. This is magnificent!
Thank you


5 posted on 09/23/2005 5:10:02 AM PDT by jmaroneps37 (The quisling ratmedia: always eager to remind us of why we hate them.)
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To: jeffers
Okay, enough with your silly opinion. I want some data to back it up!!

:-) Well done. I'll need more time to read through all this research.

6 posted on 09/23/2005 5:18:18 AM PDT by Coop (FR= a lotta talk, but little action)
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To: jeffers

Bookmarked>

Fantastic summary!

Earlier links?


7 posted on 09/23/2005 5:18:52 AM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (-I contribute to FR monthly, but ABBCNNBCBS supports Hillary's Secular Sexual Socialism every day.)
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bookmark


8 posted on 09/23/2005 5:20:50 AM PDT by Txslady
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To: jeffers

mark


9 posted on 09/23/2005 5:28:54 AM PDT by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing and become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: jeffers

What an astounding amount of information. Many thanks for the ping, jeffers! Bookmarked.


10 posted on 09/23/2005 5:30:00 AM PDT by syriacus (Galloway blusters w/ such a "cute" accent. Did Germans think Hitler's Austrian accent was cute?)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE; jeffers
Earlier links?

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1482715/posts?page=40#40 <- jeffers: sequence
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1486492/posts?page=20#20 <- jeffers: failure mode
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1484668/posts <- jeffers: sinking levee

11 posted on 09/23/2005 5:31:06 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: jeffers

Well done, thanks for the time you put into this.


12 posted on 09/23/2005 5:33:40 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: Cboldt; jeffers

My dad, a longtime civil/structural engineer, wants to write about New Orleans (in particular) and seawall/hurricane protection and damage in general. Can he contact you about your reserach?


13 posted on 09/23/2005 5:42:20 AM PDT by Robert A. Cook, PE (-I contribute to FR monthly, but ABBCNNBCBS supports Hillary's Secular Sexual Socialism every day.)
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To: jeffers

wow. i still need to go through it all, but it wouold take any government commission about a year and $10MM to pull the same thing togethter.


14 posted on 09/23/2005 5:43:06 AM PDT by frankjr
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To: jeffers

Awesome, and a tremendous amount of work. Thank you!

Bookmarked!!!!!!


15 posted on 09/23/2005 5:43:36 AM PDT by BlessedBeGod (Benedict XVI = Terminator IV)
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To: jeffers

Fantastic job, thank you!


16 posted on 09/23/2005 5:46:44 AM PDT by Ros42
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To: syriacus

Just now going through some of the links. I'm struck by the severity of the damage...much worse than I imagined from reading MSM reports.


17 posted on 09/23/2005 5:52:21 AM PDT by syriacus (Galloway blusters w/ such a "cute" accent. Did Germans think Hitler's Austrian accent was cute?)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

I'd be interested in talking with him, but it'll be easier to focus after Rita comes ashore. Either you or he can Freepmail me here.


18 posted on 09/23/2005 5:55:22 AM PDT by jeffers
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To: jeffers
  1. Many or most failed sections were subjected to a storm surge far beyond their original design specifications.
  2. Both Parish areas flooded from multiple levee breaches, from different directions, and at different times.
  3. Many levee segments failed in multiple directions at different times during the storm's passage.
  4. Notably absent are significant failures along the Intercoastal Waterway between the two Parish areas. Funneling did not result in levee failures in this area.
Outstanding! We have been subject to a tremendous barrage of bandwidth - Broadcast journalism, cable journalism, newsprint - but it is all focused on the moment, RIGHT NOW.

It doesn't really take much bandwidth to give the big picture, does it?!


19 posted on 09/23/2005 5:58:10 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: syriacus
Just now going through some of the links. I'm struck by the severity of the damage...much worse than I imagined from reading MSM reports.

Most breaches did not affect the "city of NOLA," and therefore are absent from media reports.

Only 5 breaches talked about as having flooded the city, and the media still hasn't presented a coherent summary of those facts. This is also the first review I've seen that shows and describes the impact on river levees.

20 posted on 09/23/2005 5:58:19 AM PDT by Cboldt
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To: jeffers

To the Library, Thanks.


21 posted on 09/23/2005 6:08:20 AM PDT by Les_Miserables
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To: jeffers

Many thanks for your work- I'll link to it, and send it to everybody I know.


22 posted on 09/23/2005 6:10:24 AM PDT by backhoe (Just an old Keyboard Cowboy, ridin' the trackball into the Sunset...)
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To: jeffers

ping for later study


23 posted on 09/23/2005 6:29:27 AM PDT by plain talk
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To: Cboldt; All

On the Rita Live thread, they are saying that FOX is reporting water "pouring into the 9th ward".

CoE is looking into it.

I'm glad you all are getting something out of this, and wish I could focus on it entirely right now, but there's this other hurricane....


24 posted on 09/23/2005 6:33:45 AM PDT by jeffers
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To: jeffers

wow, thanks for ping...


25 posted on 09/23/2005 7:00:57 AM PDT by Echo Talon (http://echotalon.blogspot.com)
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To: jeffers
I've printed out the "St. Bernard Parish Levee System Overview Map" and have been consulting that as I'm reading your numbered descriptions and clicking the links to see the images.

The color coding (G, Y, O, B) and the numbered arrows have been a great help, too.

26 posted on 09/23/2005 7:16:59 AM PDT by syriacus (Galloway blusters w/ such a "cute" accent. Did Germans think Hitler's Austrian accent was cute?)
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To: jeffers

placemarker


27 posted on 09/23/2005 7:30:43 AM PDT by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: jeffers

The bottomline is that you cannot protect anything with a single level of levees. The Dutch know this and have concentric rings with low-lying farm lands that can flood without doing much damage if the outer rings (levees) fail. To protect New Orleans and surrounding Parishes they will need to give up some of the populated areas for spillways or take back more of the wetlands and lakes. Expecting ZERO failure is absurd.


28 posted on 09/23/2005 7:31:08 AM PDT by Sunnyflorida
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To: jeffers

Bump

Excellent.


29 posted on 09/23/2005 7:33:15 AM PDT by visualops (www.visualops.com)
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To: jeffers
Superb research!

It looks like large portions are just swampland, unfit for humans to reside.

They need 30 feet high flood walls, period.

30 posted on 09/23/2005 7:33:38 AM PDT by M. Espinola (Freedom is never free)
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To: M. Espinola

It does not matter how high or how wonderful levees are at some point they all fail. NOLA can only be protected by having a layered defense and places for water to go if (er, when) you get a break.


31 posted on 09/23/2005 8:11:50 AM PDT by Sunnyflorida
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To: Sunnyflorida
"NOLA can only be protected by having a layered defense and places for water to go if (er, when) you get a break."

That is correct.

32 posted on 09/23/2005 8:18:54 AM PDT by M. Espinola (Freedom is never free)
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To: jeffers

Great work. Very informative.


33 posted on 09/23/2005 8:23:28 AM PDT by WasDougsLamb (Just my opinion.Go easy on me........)
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To: syriacus
The color coding (G, Y, O, B)

Sorry. G, Y, O, R (Red for "breached")

34 posted on 09/23/2005 8:38:10 AM PDT by syriacus (Galloway blusters w/ such a "cute" accent. Did Germans think Hitler's Austrian accent was cute?)
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To: jeffers

Bump for later


35 posted on 09/23/2005 8:40:37 AM PDT by dfwgator (Flower Mound, TX)
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To: Torie; Howlin; onyx

Not sure if ya'll were on the original ping list, but you might find this interesting.


36 posted on 09/23/2005 9:10:24 AM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: jeffers

Great info, thanks!! One thing I have wondered about is.... why on earth do they even have such canals in the midst of a below-sea-level city lying in a prime floodplain and hurricane zone? Seems like they've created many miles of added vulnerabilities.... yes, I understand (presumably) the canals were created for additional transport to and from industrial areas, but in the rebuilding of NOLA that seems like a luxury they cannot afford -- shouldn't those canals be filled in now??? They can use rail links rather than water transport, I would hope, for such routes within the city....


37 posted on 09/23/2005 10:21:53 AM PDT by Enchante (Would you trust YOUR life to Mayor Nagin or Governor Blankhead?)
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To: jeffers

Great research and summary! Thanks for the ping.


38 posted on 09/23/2005 10:45:24 AM PDT by umbagi (Back&Forth, Austin--Kerrville all weekend. Y'All stay safe!)
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To: jeffers

bttt


39 posted on 09/23/2005 10:55:55 AM PDT by Bradís Gramma (Lord, we need a Logan miracle for Simcha7 and Cowboy. Please.)
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To: jeffers; Fred Nerks; Former Dodger; USF; Dark Skies; jan in Colorado; ariamne; Tony Snow

Probably the best and most soundly, exhaustively researched and pertinent assemblage yet to be found on Katrina, her effects, failed protection systems, and the timeline of events which transpired. This sequence covers the levees and the riverwalls in particular.

Kudos, hat tip and great work to Jeffers!

A.A.C.


40 posted on 09/23/2005 10:58:01 AM PDT by AmericanArchConservative (Armour on, Lances high, Swords out, Bows drawn, Shields front ... Eagles UP!)
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To: jeffers

Ping for later.

Curiosity on how this compares to the LSU(?) reports of no-to-minor overtopping, with low debris rings.


41 posted on 09/23/2005 11:12:18 AM PDT by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: jeffers

Great assessment from you --as usual. Thanks for the ping.


42 posted on 09/23/2005 11:27:38 AM PDT by Arizona Carolyn
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To: jeffers
Thank you very much.

Really nice work.

bttt.

43 posted on 09/23/2005 12:13:18 PM PDT by concrete is my business (prepare the sub grade, then select the mix design)
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To: jeffers

Is there a lock on the Industrial Canal between the breach and the Mississippi River?


44 posted on 09/23/2005 12:20:02 PM PDT by Sunnyflorida
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To: Enchante

Why canals? 1) it is a port. 2) drainage. Need someplace for the pumps to pump to. That is not the problem; the problem is there is no buffer between the canals and the peeps.


45 posted on 09/23/2005 1:05:32 PM PDT by Sunnyflorida
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To: jeffers

bookmark


46 posted on 09/23/2005 1:10:36 PM PDT by FBD (make April 15th just another day! www.fairtax.org)
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To: Sunnyflorida

How dopey. I answered my own question. Looks like there is a lock on the industrial canal that steps it down from river to lake level.

http://mapserver.maptech.com/homepage/index.cfm?lat=29.9950547969&lon=-90.0200471083&scale=80000&zoom=50&type=0&height=498&width=498&icon=0&searchscope=dom&CFID=1685345&CFTOKEN=18001136&scriptfile=http://mapserver.maptech.com/homepage/index.cfm&bpid=MAP0204021051%2C2%2C1%2C0&latlontype=DMS


47 posted on 09/23/2005 1:24:49 PM PDT by Sunnyflorida
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To: jeffers

Thanks for the ping..


48 posted on 09/23/2005 1:45:11 PM PDT by Dog
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To: AmericanArchConservative

Awesome, thanks for the ping.


49 posted on 09/23/2005 2:30:23 PM PDT by Fred Nerks (Understand islam understand evil - read THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD free pdf see link My Page)
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To: Cboldt

I work right near the folgers plant. I'm situated between the Chef Hwy and the railroad track in the 14000 block of Chef. The area didn't take any water if you're curious. Apparently the highway and tracks acted as a makeshift levee and kept everything dry in that sliver of land. The area covering Six Flags was still under a lot of water at the beginning of this week.


50 posted on 09/23/2005 6:48:24 PM PDT by Bogey78O (Live from Hurricane Katrina- Western St. Tammany Division)
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