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What Now? The Lessons of Katrina. PM debunks the Katrina Myths
Popular Mechanics ^ | March 2006 | Camas Davis, Nicole Davis, Christian DeBenedetti, Brad Reagan, Kristin Roth

Posted on 03/11/2006 7:37:03 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SURPRISED. Not the federal agencies tasked with preparing for catastrophes. Not the local officials responsible for aging levees and vulnerable populations. Least of all the residents themselves, who had been warned for decades that they lived on vulnerable terrain. But when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, it seemed as though the whole country was caught unawares. Accusations began to fly even before floodwaters receded. But facts take longer to surface. In the months since the storm, many of the first impressions conveyed by the media have turned out to be mistaken. And many of the most important lessons of Katrina have yet to be absorbed. But one thing is certain: More hurricanes will come. To cope with them we need to understand what really happened during modern America's worst natural disaster. POPULAR MECHANICS editors and reporters spent more than four months interviewing officials, scientists, first responders and victims. Here is our report.--THE EDITORS


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Louisiana; US: Mississippi
KEYWORDS: katrina
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NO ONE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SURPRISED.
Not the federal agencies tasked with preparing for catastrophes. Not the local officials responsible for aging levees and vulnerable populations. Least of all the residents themselves, who had been warned for decades that they lived on vulnerable terrain. But when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, it seemed as though the whole country was caught unawares. Accusations began to fly even before floodwaters receded. But facts take longer to surface. In the months since the storm, many of the first impressions conveyed by the media have turned out to be mistaken. And many of the most important lessons of Katrina have yet to be absorbed. But one thing is certain: More hurricanes will come. To cope with them we need to understand what really happened during modern America's worst natural disaster. POPULAR MECHANICS editors and reporters spent more than four months interviewing officials, scientists, first responders and victims. Here is our report.--THE EDITORS

PM's COMPLETE COLLECTION OF KATRINA COVERAGE IN ONE PLACE


GOVERNMENT RESPONDED RAPIDLYMYTH:"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.

NEXT TIME: Any fatalities are too many. Improvements hinge on building more robust communications networks and stepping up predisaster planning to better coordinate local and national resources.

     

PM PRESCRIPTION
Improving Response

ONE OF THE BIGGEST reminders from Katrina is that FEMA is not a first responder. It was local and state agencies that got there first and saved lives. Where the feds can contribute is in planning and helping to pay for a coordinated response. Here are a few concrete steps.

Think Locally: "Every disaster starts and ends as a local event," says Ed Jacoby, who managed New York state's emergency response to 9/11. All municipalities must assess their own risk of disasters--both natural and man-made.

Include Business Help: "Companies realize that if a city shuts down, they shut down," says Barry Scanlon, former FEMA director of corporate affairs. During Katrina, many companies coordinated their own mini relief efforts. That organizational power can augment public disaster management. "If 10 Fortune 100 members made a commitment to the Department of Homeland Security," says Scanlon, "the country would take a huge leap forward."

Prearrange Contracts: Recovery costs skyrocket with high demand during a crisis. Contracts with local firms must be signed before disaster strikes. "You know beforehand that everyone is ready to move," says Kate Hale, emergency management director of Florida's Miami-Dade County during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. "The government blows the whistle and the contractors go to work."

Better First-Responder Gear
In disasters, the right tools are everything. PM chose three Katrina-tested technologies that should be part of every emergency manager's arsenal.

MOBILE COMMAND When Katrina knocked out communications, confusion followed. Some emergency experts recommend mobile field headquarters such as this $500,000 LDV communication and command truck, which enables incident commanders to coordinate response when infrastructure goes down. Up to six communication officers can work at a dispatch center with landline phones and satellite, cellular and radio links that operate over multiple frequencies to link incompatible systems.





1. TV/Internet/video satellite dish. 2. Lighting system. 3. Low-light/infrared video camera. 4. Antenna arrays include cellular for mobile phone coverage, repeaters to boost first-responder radio range and a satellite link to relay cell and landline calls. 5. Expanding side panel adds 36 sq. ft. of work space.
 

FRESH WATER
Portable reverse-osmosis water filtration (such as the USFilter system, shown here) uses high-pressure membranes to clean brackish water at an output of 288,000 gal. of potable water per day. The cost: about $4 per 1000 gal.--a fraction of the cost of trucking in bottled water.






 

HOMING SIGNALS
The Thales 25, from Thales Communications, is among the smallest, fully interoperable digital radios available to first responders, bridging the communications gap between multiple agencies. The handheld device can also transmit GPS data to locate team members and victims.






 



Hurricane Katrina's 500-mile swath of storm-strength winds roared through the Gulf of Mexico, building a storm surge 30 ft. high. DIAGRAM BY FLYING-CHILLI.COM
 

KATRINA WASN'T A SUPERSTORMMYTH:"This is a once-in-a-lifetime event."--New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, press conference, Aug. 28, 2005

REALITY: Though many accounts portray Katrina as a storm of unprecedented magnitude, it was in fact a large, but otherwise typical, hurricane. On the 1-to-5 Saffir-Simpson scale, Katrina was a midlevel Category 3 hurricane at landfall. Its barometric pressure was 902 millibars (mb), the sixth lowest ever recorded, but higher than Wilma (882mb) and Rita (897mb), the storms that followed it. Katrina's peak sustained wind speed at landfall 55 miles south of New Orleans was 125 mph; winds in the city barely reached hurricane strength.

By contrast, when Hurricane Andrew struck the Florida coast in 1992, its sustained winds were measured at 142 mph. And meteorologists estimate that 1969's Category 5 Hurricane Camille, which followed a path close to Katrina's, packed winds as high as 200 mph. Two factors made Katrina so devastating. Its radius (the distance from the center of the storm to the point of its maximum winds, usually at the inner eye wall) was 30 miles--three times wider than Camille's. In addition, Katrina approached over the Gulf of Mexico's shallow northern shelf, generating a more powerful storm surge--the water pushed ashore by hurricanes--than systems that move across deeper waters. In Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans, the surge topped out at 30 ft.; in New Orleans the surge was 25 ft.--enough to overtop some of the city's floodwalls.

NEXT TIME: According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, the Atlantic is in a cycle of heightened hurricane activity due to higher sea-surface temperatures and other factors. The cycle could last 40 years, during which time the United States can expect to be hit by dozens of Katrina-size storms. Policymakers--and coastal residents--need to start seeing hurricanes as routine weather events, not once-in-a-lifetime anomalies.


FLOODWALLS WERE BUILT PROPERLYMYTH:"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."

NEXT TIME: The Corps is restoring levees at a cost of more than $1 billion in time for the 2006 hurricane season (June 1), driving foundations 50 ft. deep--almost three times the depth of the existing foundations.

     




Photograph by Digital Globe
 


Floodwall Failures
 




OVERTOPPING
Most New Orleans flood barriers are simple earthen embankments, or levees, supporting a wall of steel sheet piles, some of which are capped with reinforced concrete I-walls. Breaches occurred when storm surges poured over the walls, washing away, or scouring, interior soil foundations. This weakened their lateral stability. Pressure from the floodwaters then caused collapse. DIAGRAMS BY FLYING-CHILLI.COM

 




FOUNDATION FAILURE
The cause of breaches on the 17th Street and London Avenue canals remains a mystery. Over-dredging in the 17th Street Canal may have removed lining sediments near the floodwall’s sheet-pile wall, allowing water to percolate through deep levee soils. Swimming pools and other structures built too close to the barrier may have compromised its integrity by compressing its foundation.

 



T-walls incorporate double foundations for stability and concrete skirts to prevent scouring of earthen levees. DIAGRAM BY BLANDDESIGNS
 

PM PRESCRIPTION
Keeping New Orleans Dry
In 1965, the same year Hurricane Betsy swamped large sections of New Orleans (including the Lower Ninth Ward), the Army Corps of Engineers presented Congress with an audacious blueprint for protecting the city from a fast-moving Category 3 storm. The $85 million Barrier Plan proposed sealing off Lake Pontchartrain from the gulf with massive, retractable flood barriers. The goal: Stop storm surges 25 miles east of the levees that encircle New Orleans. After Betsy, the plan was expanded to include gates on two of the four drainage canals that slice into the city from Pontchartrain (two of which breached their floodwalls after Katrina). But, environmental groups objected to the impact that the Pontchartrain floodgates might have on wildlife and wetlands. The Sewer and Water Board of New Orleans vetoed gates on the canals. So the Corps instead built higher levees and floodwalls.

Now, 40 years later, the Corps is again studying how to design gates for Pontchartrain and the New Orleans canals that will have minimal impact on the environment and navigation, but will still be able to block Katrina-strength storm surges. The report's due date: January 2008. Meanwhile, engineers are also studying how to strengthen the existing levees. One idea is to replace fragile I-wall barriers with more robust T-walls, which use three rows of foundation pilings that can withstand pressure generated by hurricane-force floodwaters. A wide concrete slab, or "skirt," on the protected side deflects overflowing water that could otherwise wash away supporting soil. T-walls held throughout Katrina without a leak.


ANARCHY DIDN'T TAKE OVERMYTH:"They have people ... been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."--New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Sept. 6, 2005

REALITY: Both public officials and the press passed along lurid tales of post-Katrina mayhem: shootouts in the Superdome, bodies stacked in a convention center freezer, snipers firing on rescue helicopters. And those accounts appear to have affected rescue efforts as first responders shifted resources from saving lives to protecting rescuers. In reality, although looting and other property crimes were widespread after the flooding on Monday, Aug. 29, almost none of the stories about violent crime turned out to be true. Col. Thomas Beron, the National Guard commander of Task Force Orleans, arrived at the Superdome on Aug. 29 and took command of 400 soldiers. He told PM that when the Dome's main power failed around 5 am, "it became a hot, humid, miserable place. There was some pushing, people were irritable. There was one attempted rape that the New Orleans police stopped."

The only confirmed account of a weapon discharge occurred when Louisiana Guardsman Chris Watt was jumped by an assailant and, during the chaotic arrest, accidently shot himself in the leg with his own M-16.

When the Superdome was finally cleared, six bodies were found--not the 200 speculated. Four people had died of natural causes; one was ruled a suicide, and another a drug overdose. Of the four bodies recovered at the convention center, three had died of natural causes; the fourth had sustained stab wounds.

Anarchy in the streets? "The vast majority of people [looting] were taking food and water to live," says Capt. Marlon Defillo, the New Orleans Police Department's commander of public affairs. "There were no killings, not one murder." As for sniper fire: No bullet holes were found in the fuselage of any rescue helicopter.

NEXT TIME: "Rumors are fueled by a shortage of truth," says Ted Steinberg, author of Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disasters in America. And truth was the first casualty of the information breakdown that followed the storm. Hardening communications lines (see page 3) will benefit not just first responders, but also the media. Government officials have a vital role in informing the public. Ensuring the flow of accurate information should be part of disaster planning at local, state and federal levels.


EVAC PLANS WORKEDMYTH:"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.

NEXT TIME: All states should adopt a Florida-style registry, which enables people who will need evacuation assistance to notify their city or state officials.





Some 350,000 vehicles littered flooded New Orleans neighborhoods. PHOTOGRAPH BY BENJAMIN CHERTOFF
 



REPETITIVE PROPERTY LOSS BREAKDOWN
The chart above shows repetitive-loss property claims under the National Flood Insurance Program and the dollar amounts paid on those claims. (A repetitive-loss property is one with multiple insured losses due to floods within a 10-year period.) The five Gulf Coast states account for more than half the claims filed--a clear indication of the vulnerability of property in Hurricane Alley. The chart does not reflect claims made because of Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Insured losses for those storms are expected to top $22 billion. DIAGRAM BY AGUSTIN CHUNG

 

GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES ENCOURAGE BAD PLANNINGMYTH:"We will rebuild [the Gulf Coast] bigger and better than ever." --Haley Barbour, Miss. Gov., The Associated press, Sept. 3, 2005

REALITY: In the past 25 years, the tiny community of Dauphin Island, Ala., has been hit by at least six hurricanes. Residents there carry insurance backed by the federal government, and they've collected more than $21 million in taxpayer money over the years to repair their damaged homes. Not bad, considering their premiums rarely go up and they are seldom denied coverage--even after Katrina almost completely demolished the barrier island at the entrance to Mobile Bay.

"It's like a guy getting inebriated and wrecking his Ferrari four or five times," says David Conrad of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). "Eventually, a private insurer would say no. It doesn't work that way with the federal flood insurance program."

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, was started in 1968 for homeowners who live in flood-prone areas considered too great a risk by private insurers. And for more than 30 years, the program was self-supporting. But studies by Conrad's NWF team revealed a disturbing fact: Just 1 to 2 percent of claims were from "repetitive-loss properties"--those suffering damage at least twice in a 10-year period. Yet, those 112,000 properties generated a remarkable 40 percent of the losses--$5.6 billion. One homeowner in Houston filed 16 claims in 18 years, receiving payments totaling $806,000 for a building valued at $114,000.

Just as significantly, the five Gulf Coast states accounted for half the total of repetitive-loss costs nationwide. Taxpayers across the country are paying for a minute number of people to rebuild time and time again in the path of hurricanes.

That is proving to be an expensive habit. Following Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, claims could exceed $22 billion--more than the total amount paid in premiums in the program's 38-year history. In mid-November, the NFIP ran out of money; to pay claims, Congress will have to authorize FEMA to borrow more money.

NEXT TIME: Folks in Tornado Alley and along the San Andreas fault don't get federally backed insurance, so why should taxpayers subsidize coastal homes, many of them vacation properties? Before we start rebuilding "bigger and better," Congress should reform the flood insurance program. A good start: Structure premiums so the program is actuarially sound and clamps down on repetitive claims.

Another option is for the government to buy out homeowners in vulnerable communities, just as it did along the Mississippi River following the floods of 1993. "The only problem is that it is going to cost more to buy out properties along the shore than it is to do it in North Dakota," says Andrew Coburn of Duke University's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. "The concept is still solid. It's just going to take more dollars."


PM PRESCRIPTION
Rethinking the Coast
Katrina was the sixth storm in 20 years to flood Pete Melich's house on Dauphin Island, Ala., yet the rain had barely stopped when he made plans for a $500,000 home on the lot next door. This one will not be built on a slab, but on 13-ft. pilings, with walls engineered to withstand 175-mph winds. "There will never be another flood claim on my house," Melich says proudly.

The impulse is to rebuild quickly, only bigger and more expensively than before. Yes, the federal flood insurance program described on the previous page helps fuel that drive. Yet, some people, like Melich, would still live in vulnerable areas, even without federal insurance. "The price I pay for living on the gulf is hurricanes," Melich says. "I'm willing to deal with them."

Coastal development critics argue that a total retreat from the beach makes economic and environmental sense. Realistically, that's not going to happen. But Duke University's Coburn says that there are feasible steps that can make coastal communities more storm resistant. Coburn's first step is to restore natural buffers between the beach and developed areas (See sidebar below.). He recommends wider setbacks from the beach (the equivalent of at least two rows of housing); the creation of additional dune fields; curvilinear roads that reduce the velocity and scouring of floodwaters; and redesigned beach access points so they can't act as conduits for storm surge and ebb. A second step: If people must build on the beach, they should follow Melich's lead on tougher construction. For more information on building hurricane-resistant housing, contact the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Download FREE pdf showing how to build a better beach house.





BUTTRESSING BARRIER ISLANDS


Diagram by Flying-Chilli.com

Barrier islanders can increase their protection by living in well-designed beach communities. Duke University geologist Andrew Coburn has identified measures that can minimize storm damage, as shown in this fictitious setting. 1. A setback of a few hundred yards reduces vulnerability to storm surge and provides a buffer zone from beach erosion. 2. Dunes and native vegetation block winds, absorbing storm energy. 3. Access roads that run parallel to the beach, not perpendicular, can't act as storm-surge conduits.

 

THE ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE SURVIVEDMYTH:"You have a major energy network that is down ... We could run out of gasoline or diesel or jet fuel in the next two weeks here."--Roger Diwan, managing director, Oil Markets Group, PFC Energy, Business Week, Sept. 1, 2005

REALITY: Initially, the pictures from the gulf looked bleak: oil rigs washed up along the coast, production platforms wrecked. In truth, Katrina inflicted minimal damage to the offshore energy infrastructure. Only 86 of the gulf's 4000 drilling rigs and platforms were damaged or destroyed, and most of those were older, fixed platforms atop unproductive wells.

Then, a month later, Rita--a Category 5 storm when it tore through the gulf--knocked out 125 more. Although no offshore wells or underground pipelines ruptured, and no lives were lost, Katrina and Rita each shut down nearly all the gulf's offshore output (which represents 29 percent of domestic oil production and 19 percent of domestic natural gas production) for more than a week. A third Cat 5 hurricane, Wilma, also slowed the recovery. It took two months to get 60 percent of those wells back on line.

Refineries were hit harder. Katrina shut down nine of the gulf's 36 facilities; a month later, Rita disabled 15. Combined, the stoppages affected 30 percent of the country's refining capacity. But recovery came more quickly than many experts predicted. By the end of the year, overall production was down just 8 percent, and only three refineries were still off line. "This is by far the worst we've ever seen," says Ed Murphy, who is a refinery expert at the American Petroleum Institute. "That we've recovered so quickly is really quite extraordinary."





MAP BY FLYING-CHILLI.COM
 

Despite fears that the energy infrastructure would break down, the system proved surprisingly robust. Consumers did experience a spike in gas prices. But, it was temporary and only partly attributable to the storms; a surge in worldwide demand had already driven up prices. (Two weeks before Katrina, a Newsday headline read: “Gas, Oil Prices Again Reach New Records.") Although high prices were aggravating, they helped hold down demand, encouraged new supply sources and ensured that gas stations and fuel depots did not run dry.

NEXT TIME: Three major policy changes could help make our energy system more resilient in the face of disasters. 1) Loosen restrictions on refinery construction to encourage new refineries in more diverse locations. 2) Expand port facilities for Liquefied Natural Gas to help supplement domestic supply. 3) Relax the current ban on offshore natural gas drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Clearly, all three options require overcoming NIMBY resistance and striking a careful balance between environmental and energy concerns.


PRESCRIPTION
Re-Engineering the Mississippi
For nearly 300 years the interests of landowners, farmers, fishermen, oil companies, businessmen and politicians have all conspired against the natural will of the third largest drainage basin in the world. The Mississippi River was once a meandering, interconnected system of large streams. It flooded often, changed its course every 1500 years or so, and built up coastal deltas and wetlands by depositing 400 million tons of clay, sand and silt on southern Louisiana's coastline each year.

With a federal mandate to improve navigation and flood control, the Army Corps of Engineers began building levees in the late 1800s, and by the 1940s had largely tamed the river. In the past few decades, however, scientists realized that the Corps' control structures, dams and levees were either trapping sediment upstream or spitting it out past the continental shelf, which meant that new coastal wetlands could no longer form and existing ones were diminishing. This, combined with rising sea levels, has meant that in the past century Louisiana has lost 1.2 million acres of coastal marshes, swamps and barrier islands.





Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion PHOTOGRAPH BY ARTHUR BELAGA/USACE
 

Engineers and scientists refer to the Mississippi basin as a "wicked problem," a term used to describe inherently intractable challenges with solutions that only lead to more complex problems. The Corps' wicked problem is this: How do we re-engineer the lower Mississippi to restore coastal wetlands while maintaining the flood controls and navigation structures that led to their destruction? In 1998 Louisiana answered with the $14 billion Coast 2050, a 60-project program that rivaled the Everglades restoration in scope. Too long-range and expensive, said the White House Office of Management and Budget. The Corps responded with the $2 billion Louisiana Coastal Area plan, with five projects, which are still under review. Other scientists and engineers also have proposed solutions, both sweeping and modest. Post-Katrina, it is time to bring a national commitment to applying the best of these ideas.





The 1973 satellite image of the Mississippi River delta basin shows wetland loss along the southern edge of the delta. PHOTOGRAPH BY USGS
 

Redirecting Silt: To maintain navigability, the Corps regularly dredges the river, but Robert Twilley, professor of oceanography and coastal science at Louisiana State University, claims the Corps "wastes millions of cubic feet per year of sediment that's tossed into the ocean. Instead we should transport those dredged materials by pipeline, and spew silt from the river over the coastal floodplain to nourish the landscape." Since 1990, the Corps has initiated dozens of such projects, although their scope and impact remain small when compared with the natural processes of the river. Kerry St. Pé, director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, advocates 36-in. pipelines to carry 70 million cubic yards of dredged silt annually from the Mississippi west to vanishing wetlands.





The 2003 image shows how artificial cuts in levees, or crevasses, direct silt-rich river water to adjacent marshes to slow and even reverse coastal erosion--a rare delta success. PHOTOGRAPH BY USGS
 

Build Bigger Diversions: To boost natural productivity, the Corps mimics the effects of historical annual flooding by diverting fresh water into receding, increasingly saline coastal estuaries. Two diversion structures--at Caernarvon and Davis Pond--feature drainage holes called box culverts that are cut into the levees to introduce controlled flows of 8000 to 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of fresh water into overly saline estuaries.

Baton Rouge engineer Sherwood Gagliano proposes a grander diversion project called the Third Delta. (Two areas of natural delta building are at the mouths of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers.) Its centerpiece: a 60-ft.-deep channel from the Mississippi, near Donaldsonville, that will deliver 360,000 cfs of water and sediment to the Barataria and Terrebonne basins flanking stagnant Bayou Lafourche.

Dismantle Obsolete Structures: Southeastern Louisiana is crosshatched with unused canals, many of them dredged by mineral companies, that channel fresh water and sediment to the gulf instead of into wetlands. "We need to break down [obsolete] levees," Twilley says, "and backfill canals so that water and sediment flow west.”

Reporting:Camas Davis, Nicole Davis, Christian DeBenedetti, Brad Reagan, Kristin Roth




Click here to download a FREE pdf map detailing the Louisiana comeback plans.



Louisiana Comeback Plans
For more than a century, the Army Corps of Engineers' Mississippi River mandate has been to control floods and aid navigation. The results: access canals that bring salt water inland and a walled-in waterway that shoots sediment into the gulf instead of replenishing storm-buffering wetlands and barrier islands. Now, the Corps and others propose projects--incremental and sweeping--to reverse rapid coastal erosion.


1 posted on 03/11/2006 7:37:06 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez
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To: Howlin; Miss Marple; Southack
"In 1965, the same year Hurricane Betsy swamped large sections of New Orleans (including the Lower Ninth Ward), the Army Corps of Engineers presented Congress with an audacious blueprint for protecting the city from a fast-moving Category 3 storm. The $85 million Barrier Plan proposed sealing off Lake Pontchartrain from the gulf with massive, retractable flood barriers. The goal: Stop storm surges 25 miles east of the levees that encircle New Orleans. After Betsy, the plan was expanded to include gates on two of the four drainage canals that slice into the city from Pontchartrain (two of which breached their floodwalls after Katrina). But, environmental groups objected to the impact that the Pontchartrain floodgates might have on wildlife and wetlands. The Sewer and Water Board of New Orleans vetoed gates on the canals. So the Corps instead built higher levees and floodwalls."

This should be screamed from every rooftop and every available means of mass communications available to the GOP from this day, through the next Presidential election.

2 posted on 03/11/2006 7:45:02 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

ping for later


3 posted on 03/11/2006 7:47:18 AM PST by nodumbblonde
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Thanks for posting this Luis.

Good old PM! To bad more of the leg-warmer-wearing left-wing MSM pansies don't read it!

4 posted on 03/11/2006 7:48:24 AM PST by Kenny Bunk (OK, how bad we hurt for 2006? Who we running in 2008?)
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To: nodumbblonde

The main stream media will never publish this.


5 posted on 03/11/2006 7:48:44 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Kenny Bunk

It's amazing where one can dig up the truth.


6 posted on 03/11/2006 7:49:26 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Kenny Bunk
"To bad more of the leg-warmer-wearing left-wing MSM pansies don't read it!"

That's because mechanics isn't popular with people who wear leg warmers.

:-)

7 posted on 03/11/2006 7:50:52 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Thanks for this post. Lots of good pictures on those links. I've not seen too many like this anywhere. Gives one a little better grasp of the situation on the ground.


8 posted on 03/11/2006 7:50:58 AM PST by digger48
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To: Luis Gonzalez; 4everontheRight; aberaussie; Alas Babylon!; Alia; alnick; Amelia; asp1; AntiGuv; ...
Hurricane Ping List INFO ping!
9 posted on 03/11/2006 7:51:58 AM PST by Howlin ("Quick, he's bleeding! Is there a <strike>doctor</strike> reporter in the house?")
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To: digger48
What happens when you remove the spin from the story?

You find out that the ones doing the most spinning have the more to hide from.

10 posted on 03/11/2006 7:52:18 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
I read this earlier in the week; a most excellent report.

And doesn't this graphic say it all?


11 posted on 03/11/2006 7:53:19 AM PST by Howlin ("Quick, he's bleeding! Is there a <strike>doctor</strike> reporter in the house?")
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To: Howlin

Was it posted here?

I did a search, and nothing came up.


12 posted on 03/11/2006 7:54:27 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

"In 1965, the same year Hurricane Betsy swamped large sections of New Orleans (including the Lower Ninth Ward).."

Another take: This was during the almighty "great society," during a demonrat administration. Further proof thay the demonrats don't solve problems or take care of people, they just start a new gummint program.


13 posted on 03/11/2006 7:54:39 AM PST by Felis_irritable
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To: Luis Gonzalez

No, the MSM will never discuss this.

I heard it on Fox, needless to say.

And the report from either Thursday or Friday is even more damaging; evidently the water just pushed the levees FLAT (think about a flapper <??)and the water went UNDER the levees to start the breach.


14 posted on 03/11/2006 7:56:16 AM PST by Howlin ("Quick, he's bleeding! Is there a <strike>doctor</strike> reporter in the house?")
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To: Luis Gonzalez

I HAVE THE TITLE BACKWARDS!!!!!

It isn't "what now?, it's "Now what?"

Crap.


15 posted on 03/11/2006 7:57:01 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

One thing, I absolutely cannot stomach Sheperd Smith since he and Whorealdo did their sobfests from their one particular 1000 square feet of view, while tens of thousands of sq miles were laid to waste and tens of thousands of peolple were in worse shape than the ones who were in view of a camera.


16 posted on 03/11/2006 8:09:30 AM PST by digger48
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To: Luis Gonzalez

The force of surging high water from Hurricane Katrina bent back a key New Orleans flood wall and splintered its foundation, an investigating panel said yesterday in a report that sheds new light on the cause of the city's flooding while raising questions about the safety of the city's surviving levees.

The report contradicted earlier views about why the 17th Street Canal flood wall collapsed, but it also said that the failures were "not anticipated" by the levees' designers and that the system did not perform as intended. A 450-foot section of the flood wall near Lake Pontchartrain collapsed Aug. 29 without ever being overtopped by Katrina's storm surge, according to the panel, which was appointed by the Army Corps of Engineers.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/10/AR2006031002105.html


Here's the whole Google string for the reports:

http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=&ie=UTF-8&ncl=http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-levees11mar11,1,6530893.story%3Fcoll%3Dla-headlines-nation


17 posted on 03/11/2006 8:17:00 AM PST by Howlin ("Quick, he's bleeding! Is there a <strike>doctor</strike> reporter in the house?")
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Most informative. Thanks.


18 posted on 03/11/2006 8:26:13 AM PST by Jaded (The truth shall set you free, but lying to yourself turns you French.)
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To: Howlin
Same as this?
19 posted on 03/11/2006 8:28:05 AM PST by Amelia (Education exists to overcome ignorance, not validate it.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
Thanks for this most excellent post, Luis. Having been born and raised in New Orleans, I did NOT want to see the city rebuilt. However, after careful consideration of the ramifications of the Port of New Orleans, I realized that the city HAS to be rebuilt for the country's economic survival.
20 posted on 03/11/2006 8:31:19 AM PST by El Gran Salseron (The FR Canteen's Resident Equal Opportunity Male Chauvinist Pig! :-))
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To: Amelia
As far as I can tell, it's been posted three times now.

Two of them (mine included) got the title wrong, which is wehy I didn't find it when I looked before posting.

First time:

Now What? The Lessons of Katrina .

Second time:

Pop. Mechanics: Now What? The Lessons of Katrina ("largest, fastest rescue effort in US history")

I got the title wrong, and posted this a third time when my search did not turn up an article titles "What Now?" that related to Katrina.

21 posted on 03/11/2006 8:38:35 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
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.

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....

Coast Guard ping, Mr. Tonkin!

22 posted on 03/11/2006 8:39:37 AM PST by GummyIII
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Well, it's a great article. I enjoyed it. :-)


23 posted on 03/11/2006 8:43:17 AM PST by Amelia (Education exists to overcome ignorance, not validate it.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez
"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

Aaron Broussard should be thrown out of office for his handling of the situation. He spread panic, sealed off Jefferson Parish unnecessarily after the storm, and set the pump crews who could have been operating the pumping stations away before the storm. Meanwhile, Jefferson Parish got a few feet of water. Would have been less if the pumps had been running.
24 posted on 03/11/2006 8:46:44 AM PST by Sofa King (A wise man uses compromise as an alternative to defeat. A fool uses it as an alternative to victory.)
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To: Howlin

I don't know what percentage it is in Texas but I'm going to go out on a limb here and state I don't believe the majority of the rebuilding which gets done there is due to hurricane activity. From my experience in living in Houston, it's heavy rains which cause flooding in the same areas' time after time. I'm not even talking about catastrophic flooding either, I'm addressing heavy thunderstorms which in the past might have caused minor street flooding but now floods entire neighbourhoods. I don't have any statistics or facts to back up my observation so take it what it may be worth.

In '91 I moved back to Houston after being away for 10+ years. I went to work for a company on the NW side of Houston. During the 3 years I was there one of my co-workers had her home flood twice. The 2nd time she'd had new living room furniture for a week.

Some of the problem with flooding in Houston is the newer subdivisions creating flood area's out of locations which weren't initially in a flood zone.

I'm trying to remember which storm it was in Houston that flooded the Medical Center. I think it may have been Alicia (am guessing though since I didn't live there when the storm hit). I do know that after that particular storm hit and flooded so much of the area, steps were taken to make sure it didn't happen again.


25 posted on 03/11/2006 8:48:31 AM PST by Sally'sConcerns (I never knew there were so many union supporters on FR.)
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To: Amelia

Yep! I knew I had read it somewhere! :-)


26 posted on 03/11/2006 8:49:04 AM PST by Howlin ("Quick, he's bleeding! Is there a <strike>doctor</strike> reporter in the house?")
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To: Galactic Overlord-In-Chief

Ping


27 posted on 03/11/2006 8:56:39 AM PST by Sofa King (A wise man uses compromise as an alternative to defeat. A fool uses it as an alternative to victory.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Guess it's time to subscribe to Popular Mechanics.


28 posted on 03/11/2006 9:10:19 AM PST by HolgerDansk ("Oh Bother", said Pooh, as he worked the bolt.)
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To: Howlin

Facts are an amazing thing....


29 posted on 03/11/2006 9:18:57 AM PST by shield (The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instructions.Pr 1:7)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Thanks for the post. I missed the earlier ones. Looks like a good enough article that we can afford to have it around for a few days.


30 posted on 03/11/2006 9:21:37 AM PST by caveat emptor
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To: Sally'sConcerns

It was TS Allison that caused the massive flooding around the Medical Ctr. You would be astounded at how much flood prevention has occurred since that time. Just about every new subdivsion now has lakes surrounding it. They are really just nice-looking flood control measures, but it was a really creative way to deal with flooding issues.

There are bayous and drainage areas all over town now.


31 posted on 03/11/2006 9:22:38 AM PST by Aggie Mama
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To: Bear_in_RoseBear
Engineering ping!
32 posted on 03/11/2006 9:43:55 AM PST by Rose in RoseBear (HHD [... I love engineers ...])
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To: Aggie Mama
It was TS Allison that caused the massive flooding around the Medical Ctr

Oh well...at least they both started with an 'a'. ;^)

I knew measures had been taken to prevent that type of flooding. I think it was in the last 18 months or so that the flood maps for Houston were updated because of all of the work which had been done.

My sister told me about all of the commercials encouraging people to purchase flood insurance before the new maps were published since flood insurance would be much more expensive if their property had been reassigned into a flood zone. She went ahead and purchased flood insurance beforehand even though her house has never flooded. Even after the new maps were published, her home wasn't located in a flood zone.

The neighbourhood I grew up in rarely had street flooding but the streets did flood when Carla came through.

33 posted on 03/11/2006 10:38:20 AM PST by Sally'sConcerns (I never knew there were so many union supporters on FR.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez; GummyIII; OneLoyalAmerican; CedarDave; Coastie; Delta 21; sargunner; hedgetrimmer; ..

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....


34 posted on 03/11/2006 10:40:21 AM PST by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub (SEMPER PARATUS -- ALWAYS READY)
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Thanks for the ping, hero!


35 posted on 03/11/2006 10:46:49 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

BTTT


36 posted on 03/11/2006 10:49:39 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Amazing work. SALUTE to them all.


37 posted on 03/11/2006 10:56:35 AM PST by amom
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To: Luis Gonzalez

And where, pray tell, is the MSM's much-vaunted "fact-checking" and "verification" ????

I see only "rush-to-print and "first-to-publish" and a race to be "first to get my name and network on TV" ........

Combined with a "they said it first so I'll repeat it on my TV appearance."


38 posted on 03/11/2006 10:59:10 AM PST by Robert A. Cook, PE (I can only donate monthly, but Hillary's ABBCNNBCBS continue to lie every day!)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE

Mr. Cook...nice to see you.


39 posted on 03/11/2006 11:02:44 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Were you a part of that?


40 posted on 03/11/2006 11:03:10 AM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

The only thing I take issue with is the estimation of wind strength.
I've been through many a hurricane without evacuating, including Betsy and Georges. Betsy- with winds at 150mph in New Orleans( forget what they say now, I remember!) did not leave the structural damage I've seen from Katrina.

I've sat on my carport in 100mph winds. 125mph winds( barely hurricane strength winds in the city, this claims )do NOT do the structural damage I've seen. Entire brick facades of buildings peeled off, houses blown down, huge metal billboards twisted and bent to the ground, were evident as far west as Kenner.
We're hearing now that they've upped Katrina to Cat 4 or 5 at landfall. Don't know if that's true or not, but I can promise you that winds were NOT ' barely hurricane strength' in New Orleans. If they were, The Thing must have had hundreds of tornados in it.


41 posted on 03/11/2006 11:08:11 AM PST by ClearBlueSky (Whenever someone says it's not about Islam-it's about Islam. Jesus loves you, Allah wants you dead!)
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
Be Ever Vigilant!


42 posted on 03/11/2006 11:08:37 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

This is a terrific post. I may even purchase the magazine in order to read this stuff the old fashioned way.


43 posted on 03/11/2006 11:13:26 AM PST by Radix (Stop domestic violence. Beat abroad.)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

An article as informative as this should be posted more than once. :o) Thanks. Guess I missed the other threads.


44 posted on 03/11/2006 11:33:57 AM PST by daybreakcoming (If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. A. Lincoln)
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To: Howlin
The season is right on top of us again. It should be a bad stretch since the winter was so mild (except where I am in the South) and the water is so warm. I can hardly wait!
45 posted on 03/11/2006 11:40:10 AM PST by Coldwater Creek ("Over there, over there, We won't be back 'til it's over Over there.")
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Bump!


46 posted on 03/11/2006 11:55:21 AM PST by Gucho
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To: daybreakcoming; Luis Gonzalez; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

I missed it before too. MOST informative. Thanks, all!


47 posted on 03/11/2006 12:02:38 PM PST by ohioWfan (PROUD Mom of an Iraq War VET! THANKS, son!!!!)
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To: Luis Gonzalez

Yes, it should be shouted from the rooftops.

Also note I heard an FBI spokesman on NBC News yesterday report FBI has evidence of criminal conduct by levee administration with contracts and nepotism.


48 posted on 03/11/2006 12:04:21 PM PST by freema (Proud Marine FRiend, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
Click image to watch 1.9 mb .wmv video of troops saving lives

click the pic to watch the video

Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005
There was no delay in getting help to New Orleans

49 posted on 03/11/2006 12:04:46 PM PST by DocRock
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub

Thanks!! Sending this to a coastal county government.


50 posted on 03/11/2006 12:08:15 PM PST by freema (Proud Marine FRiend, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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