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What Did Katrina Destroy? — Why Now?
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What Did Katrina Destroy?

Let’s clear this up for people who don’t understand hurricanes. The winds and storm surge wiped out the Mississippi towns of Lakeshore, Waveland, Bay Saint Louis, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula, the Alabama towns of Bayou La Batre, Dauphin Island, and Gulf Shores, and the Louisiana parishes of Plaquemines and Saint Bernard. These were the areas that caught the eye and the Eastside of the storm. These places were pretty much leveled by Katrina, as the storm surge was like a tsunami, knocking down everything in its path. [I’m 250 miles East of landfall and we had an 8-foot storm surge.]

There was lesser damage as the storm moved inland because friction from the land slows the wind down.

The buildings in New Orleans sit behind the windbreaks of the levees and floodwalls. Many single story buildings were never subjected to hurricane force winds because of the protection of other buildings. The multistory buildings were the ones that were battered by the winds.

New Orleans was flooded because of multiple design and construction failures of the floodwalls and canals. This was just another victim of the criminal neglect of the infrastructure by multiple Presidents and Congresses beginning with Ronald Reagan and his tax cuts.

The problem is that maintenance is the first thing that gets cut when money is short. The intervals get extended until things can’t be fixed, they have to be replaced, but the money isn’t available. Louisiana had their share of the money for the levee upgrades, but the Federal money never appeared.

The canals that were cut to assist a few companies acted like nozzles that directed the force of the storm surge against poorly designed floodwalls that failed – flooding the city. It was the failure of the floodwalls, not the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans.

The failed response belongs to the Feds: they were people that refused to allow aid into the city, turning away assistance for days. If food, water and transportation had arrived in a timely fashion, there would have been almost no looting. Most of all, if communications had been established things could have been organized. You can’t coordinate with dueling press conferences.

Congress has appropriated more than $100 billion but only corporations have seen any of it, and multiple reports say they have been ripping off the taxpayers. The only fraud the Shrubbery wants to discuss is that of individuals.

What happened in New Orleans was NOT a natural disaster: it was multiple Federal failures. I don’t want to hear about “lessons learned from Katrina”: FEMA worked under Bill Clinton.


1 andante { 08.29.06 at 8:15 am }

It’s a basic fact of life that Things Wear Out and then Things Break. Either you have to pay a lot of money to fix what broke or replace it with something more expensive. A good, regular maintenance program will save time, money, and heartbreak every time.

Unfortunately that concept takes a beating by politicians, especially around election time.

2 Bryan { 08.29.06 at 8:38 am }

They won’t cut services that people would notice; they don’t want people to notice that there’s cost that has to be paid. They keep talking about “fat” as they slice away muscle.

3 Steve Bates { 08.29.06 at 8:55 am }

The storm was inevitable, but the preparation failed and the response failed because friends of Grover Norquist wanted to drown government in a bathtub. Instead, many Gulf Coast residents, including New Orleans dwellers, drowned in something rather larger. You can label the storm an “act of God” (God surely gets blamed for a lot of things, eh?), but the failures that got people killed were due to acts of men (and perhaps a few women). Shame on them!

4 Bryan { 08.29.06 at 9:36 am }

The thing that people need to remember about New Orleans is that the deaths should not be linked to the more than one million people that lived in and around New Orleans. The 1500+ deaths were from the approximately 22,000 people who couldn’t get out in time. Those deaths didn’t come from a huge urban population, but from the population of a town. Many of those deaths were the result of a lack of medical care that was sitting off shore in the 600 bed hospital that is part of the USS Bataan.

Just like 9/11, when faced with an emergency they freeze and do nothing.

5 Karen { 08.29.06 at 9:41 am }

Digby has a good one about Bush’s and the Bronwynne Bassier Photo-Op redo! Blech!

Expect more Staged Opportunities for CIC to get muscle strain patting himself on the back for his “heck of job” done all year!

6 Bryan { 08.29.06 at 10:07 am }

The people on the Gulf Coast would rather see the money than the man. It’s been a year and the money has all gone to the Shrubbery’s corporate buddies who have imported people to do the work.

7 andante { 08.29.06 at 3:36 pm }

“a year and the money has all gone to the Shrubbery’s corporate buddies who have imported people to do the work.”

Give it a couple more years and there may be even more similarities to Iraq.

8 Badtux { 08.29.06 at 4:20 pm }

You mean that in a couple more years there will be car bombings, IED’s, and ethnic cleansings? Actually, I *have* heard talks of insurrection from Louisianians — as in, rumblings about how if the U.S. government won’t fix the levees, maybe they’ll just seize the pipelines and not let any oil through until the oil companies rebuild the levees. Or something like that. Vague rumors. But the word “insurrection” definitely has been bandied.

Maybe we ought to contract Jihad Construction to do the rebuilding. After all, they had dump trucks and bulldozers out clearing away the rubble in Lebanon before the rubble was even finished smoking. Of course, it might be embarrassing to have the construction arm of Hizbullah reconstructing the Gulf Coast, but hey, if they can do the job, and the Feds can’t (or won’t, rather)…


9 Bryan { 08.29.06 at 5:18 pm }

The thing that a lot of people miss is that you can’t not re-build New Orleans unless you can figure out how to move the Mississippi River and a major portion of the Gulf oil and gas pipelines.

The Republic of West Florida was, at its heart, an attempt to control all of the river ports into the Gulf of Mexico. The location of the cities wasn’t accidental and they all flood because they all were located at the mouths of rivers. They are located where they have to be, and if the Dutch can handle flooding in a country that’s mostly below sea level, we ought to damn sure be able to deal with a city.

New Orleans isn’t an isolated incident. Ernesto may not look like much, but it’s going to pass over Lake Okeechobee which features the Herbert Hoover Dike that is in worse shape than the New Orleans levees. Somebody is about to get a whole lot more water than they wanted, because if they don’t get the lake level down the dike may give way flooding a lot of people in South Florida.

Frankly, New Orleans isn’t at the top of my threat list. The Cajuns in nearby parishes aren’t even getting lip service, and those that weren’t nailed by Katrina, got nailed by Rita. They haven’t forgotten getting pushed out of Arcadia, so they are not likely to forget about this. Those boys hunt and fish as well as working on the oil platforms. They get pushed hard enough, they’ll push back.

If the United Arab Emirates can own the ports, I don’t know why Hezbollah couldn’t re-build New Orleans – they seem to know what they are doing.