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It Isn’t Just The Mississippi — Why Now?
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It Isn’t Just The Mississippi

The CBC reports on flooding in Quebec: Richelieu flood victims promised federal help

Federal Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis has promised federal support for flood victims while touring the Richelieu River valley, hours after the province handed out $770,000 to 234 families.

He arrived late morning for a personal helicopter tour of the area, where 3,000 homes — including 500 farms — have been flooded.

Dr. Jeff Masters notes this is part of the flooding around Lake Champlain that borders on New York, Vermont, and Quebec. The cause is record snowfall, followed by record rainfall while the snow is melting.


1 Badtux { 05.06.11 at 9:30 pm }

I was just looking at the Corps of Engineers flood projections for around Vicksburg. If I’m reading their flood map right, everything below the bluff (roughly US61) is going to get flooded. Which includes port facilities, mostly, but also a Super Wal-Mart. YAY!

I don’t “get” why people build in an area guaranteed to flood like that. I just took a look at the riverfront in Shreveport/Bossier City and stuff I remember from 40 years ago as being just open land along the river now has all sorts of shit on it. Well, it was open land along the river for a *reason* — because it’s a friggin’ FLOOD ZONE. But the Corps of Engineers came along and straightened and deepened the river and said it wouldn’t flood anymore. Yeah right. One of my friends owned some old houses where the parking lot for the Boardwalk complex in Bossier City now sits. Those old houses were just inside the levee. The Boardwalk complex is on the *OTHER* side of the levee — the side that floods. Doh! DOLTS! (Yes, they paid him good money for those houses, which were the kind of run-down by-the-week duplexes that slumlords typically rent out… uhm, yes, one of my friends was a slumlord, what can I say,).

People keep building along the rivers, and they keep getting flooded out. DOH! Is anybody surprised other than the dolts who build on the waterfront?!

– Badtux the Web-footed Penguin

2 Bryan { 05.06.11 at 10:00 pm }

When I was growing up down here the only things actually near the water were fishing shacks, and I do mean shacks. After hurricanes they were rebuilt with the debris from other fishing shacks. There was one metal sign that migrated around the bayou as time wore on, serving as roofing for different shacks.

The house were built back from the water on the rises. When the foundations were dug, it wasn’t unusual to find Native American artifacts, showing that they also built back from the water. These days you have McMansions not 50 feet from the high tide line. They have “no wake” zones to keep them from flooding, and the Feds are about one good storm from owning the land under the flood insurance “three strikes” rule.

People think that the Big Muddy can be tamed, and that is not going to happen. That river can and will overcome anything the Corps puts in its way. It provides wonderful soil that it collects from draining the center of country, but it leaves it banks to deposit it.

The Dutch have started to build houses that make sense if you want to live next to the river. They look like normal houses, but they float and have large columns on both sides that have metal loops around them which are attached to the house. When the water rises, the house rises, and the columns keep it in place.

If they want businesses by the river, build them on barges, like the casinos that Katrina destroyed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The crest at Natchez is going to be 6 feet above the old record, and the crest is predicted to be about 6 inches below the tops of the levees in New Orleans. This isn’t going to be nice.

3 Badtux { 05.07.11 at 12:44 am }

Correction: The crest at New Orleans is predicted to be about 6 inches below the tops of the levees in New Orleans *if they don’t open the Morganza spillway*. Unfortunately, if they *do* open the Morganza spillway, there’s a good chance the Mississippi is just going to take that opportunity to change course to where it’s been wanting to go for the last hundred years — i.e., down the Atchafalaya — because the spillway was designed to deal with a 1927-scale flood and this one looks like it’s bigger than 1927. But it’s either that or no more New Orleans (or any other Mississippi River community downstream of the Morganza spillway), because those levees will *not* hold if they’re that close to being topped. They just won’t. And the fact that a 25 foot wall of water is going to roar down the Atchafalaya River once the spillway is opened… well. It’s either evacuate 15,000 people who live along that river, or 1.5 million people who live along the Mississippi. Not much of a decision there.

BTW, Florida is going to have to get a new tourism video. You’ll have to check my blog for why though, because I don’t know how to embed videos here and besides it’s a lot better in snarktastic context :twisted:.

– Badtux the Former Louisiana Penguin

4 Bryan { 05.07.11 at 12:21 pm }

Someone is going to get flooded, not matter what they do, so it is a matter of who, and there aren’t as many voters or money along the Atchafalaya. They will be the “sacrificial goats”.

Speaking of goats, that’s Mossy Head next door in Walton County that exists only because they built a railroad spur line to Eglin AFB from the main line that parallels I-10 and US 90.

We put it down to altitude sickness, as they are in the “highlands of Florida”. The highest point in the state, Britton Hill [345 feet] is just north of them. It’s all downhill to the beaches. There are T-shirts that feature the goat and the line “What happens in Mossy Head – stays in Mossy Head”.

It took four years to get that law passed … FOUR YEARS! It may have taken that long to get campaign contributors into rehab. 😈

If you stop for gas there, you don’t mention goats – the banjo music might start. They are a bit touchy about it.

5 Badtux { 05.07.11 at 2:13 pm }

Well, given that the whole point of the Morganza spillway is to be opened when the river approaches 1927 flood stage, and everybody downstream from it has known that since it was completed in 1934… well. I have no sympathy for those on the Atchafalaya who might be upset that it’s going to put a 20 foot wall of water into their backyard. Though it *does* appear from the latest flood data at nola.com that the ring levees will hold, because the wall of water will go down the east side of the Atchafalaya floodway, with the Atchafalaya River levees keeping it from going to the west side (where the towns are) until south of I-10 (where the Atchafalaya River levees end).

BTW, that same flood graphic from nola.com also shows that the entire peninsula that Angola State Prison is located on (which is across from the Morganza Spillway) will be underwater. Oops! They’ve already started the evacuation, but the question of what to do with all those prisoners while Angola is underwater hasn’t yet been answered.

6 Bryan { 05.07.11 at 2:58 pm }

Well, they could house them in the governor’s mansion, he doesn’t seem to use it, and PJ should be ramping up his “not running for President” campaign, so he probably won’t be in town.

I’m sure they can find a campaign contributor with a private prison who will house them for only slightly more than the going rate at a Hilton, then they can cover the cost with Medicaid or school money – until they get a check from FEMA that will be spent on something else – just like always.

7 Badtux { 05.07.11 at 11:47 pm }

Interestingly enough, Angola State Prison started out as a private prison. After the defeat of the South in the War of Southern Treason, the owner of Angola Plantation offered to house the state’s prisoners in exchange for their labor. The bankrupt state jumped on the chance to do so, and for the next 35 or so years the state’s prisoners basically worked as slaves on the Angola Plantation. Ironically it was floods in the late 1890’s that ended that arrangement — flooding disrupted the crops at Angola Plantation, meaning that the plantation couldn’t feed the prisoners without borrowing money (something they were reluctant to do), and conditions grew so dire, with over a thousand prisoners but only 90 guards who used the utmost in brutality to maintain control over starving and desperate prisoners, that the state had to step in and take over the prison in 1901.

It appears that the plan that the warden has for an emergency evacuation of Angola (which *will* have to be evacuated, it had to be evacuated during the 1997 flood too which was much lower, because even with two layers of levee protection the levees are built on sand and the water boils through it and undermines the levees) is to move the able-bodied prisoners to a tent city on the bluff that overlooks Angola. To say that’s not exactly satisfactory accommodations for 5,000 murderers, rapists, and armed robbers, the majority of whom are there on life sentences without any chance of parole, is an understatement. Warden Cain is a righteous man and will make it work for six to nine weeks, but beyond that there’s just no way you can deal with that many who are the worst of the worst that Louisiana has to offer when all you have is tents.

8 Bryan { 05.08.11 at 12:31 am }

Florida has nothing along the coast, but several prisons are built along rivers, which makes no sense to me when the state has open land with nothing anyone would want on it or near it.

I checked the map, and that is an escape waiting to happen. I can’t believe there isn’t a worthless piece of real estate somewhere else in the state where they could build a facility that was at least as secure as bin Laden’s compound. The walls of the prison should be effective levees/floodwalls. Tents are not going to hack it when 3 out of 4 are sentenced to die in that prison, one way or another.

9 Badtux { 05.08.11 at 1:07 am }

Bryan, the Florida prisons near rivers are there for the same reason that Angola is where it is — because they were originally plantations, and prisoners were originally sent there to work as prison labor on the plantations.

Regarding the security of Angola, the fact that the Mississippi surrounds it on three sides and some really rugged hills that go for about 40 miles are on the fourth side tends to make it pretty secure. In short, as with Alcatraz, the location itself is the biggest guard against escapes. Putting the prisoners on the bluff is not going to remove those natural protections. What it *is* going to do is remove most of the ability to put prisoners on lockdown if they misbehave. Things will go along based on inertia for a short period of time, maybe six to nine weeks, but eventually there *will* be a Situation. That’s just the nature of that population, they got where they are because of Poor Impulse Control(tm), and while they can “be good” for a while without the institutional controls that usually substitute for the internal controls they lack, eventually, well.

10 Bryan { 05.08.11 at 10:46 am }

Florida’s prisons are in pulp wood – turpentine country, not farm land, which in down in central Florida. It was probably more about having transportation, because roads are still in short supply throughout the state. The Panhandle has three East-West roads, and one paved North-South road per county. Hurricane evacuation is a real mess. The rivers were the main transportation means well into the 20th century.