Water Flowing over New Orleans Levee

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
This is terrible. I heard a CNN cameraman saying the water was rising at a rate of 5-10 inches a minute.

Anyone know if this breach threatens the whole city? The "good" news is the area right around the breach is a complete wasteland -- there's really nothing and no one there any more.
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
clayj said:
And it will happen again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Time to pull the plug on New Orleans.
Clay, that is utter baloney. Ever been to Amsterdam? Now there are some things that can and should be done better. Some of these canals aren't even used any more -- they just offer more levees to break. Dangerous canals should be closed down, but there's no reason to shut down the entire city.
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,492
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visiting from downstream
wordmunger said:
Clay, that is utter baloney. Ever been to Amsterdam? Now there are some things that can and should be done better. Some of these canals aren't even used any more -- they just offer more levees to break. Dangerous canals should be closed down, but there's no reason to shut down the entire city.
And yet, as someone pointed out to me a while back, even the Netherlands has experienced catastrophic floods that have killed thousands of people.

I question the entire notion of building a city below sea level. What they do in the Netherlands is not really my concern (i.e., I'm not being asked to foot the bill).
 

MacDawg

macrumors Core
Mar 20, 2004
19,824
4,503
"Between the Hedges"
clayj said:
And it will happen again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Time to pull the plug on New Orleans.

You're so funny clayj :p
I know you are somewhat serious, but c'mon... nobody is buying your argument

WOF WOF – DAWG
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,920
170
clayj said:
And yet, as someone pointed out to me a while back, even the Netherlands has experienced catastrophic floods that have killed thousands of people.
Yes. Over 50 years ago... things have changed a lot since then due to government planning and expenditure, thus saving the whole country.

clayj said:
I question the entire notion of building a city below sea level. What they do in the Netherlands is not really my concern (i.e., I'm not being asked to foot the bill).
Is this what it comes down to? Is this your idea of what a civil society and the idea of community should be?
 

Daveway

macrumors 68040
Jul 10, 2004
3,370
0
New Orleans / Lafayette, La
FOX News has some good coverage of that break with video right now.

Clay that was a stupid comment. Same can be said for earthquakes in California and forest fires in the midwest.
 

Macaddicttt

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2004
993
2
San Diego, CA
Daveway said:
FOX News has some good coverage of that break with video right now.

Clay that was a stupid comment. Same can be said for earthquakes in California and forest fires in the midwest.
Or brush fires in California. Anyone remember the big fires in San Diego two years ago? Because I sure do...
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
clayj said:
I question the entire notion of building a city below sea level. What they do in the Netherlands is not really my concern (i.e., I'm not being asked to foot the bill).
You should foot part of the bill because you contributed to the global warming that caused the hurricane. You should foot part of the bill if you ever listen to jazz music. You should foot part of the bill because someone else footed part of the bill when a hurricane hit YOUR city of Charlotte.

You should NOT foot part of the bill to repeat the same mistakes -- if we're rebuilding New Orleans, we need to rebuild it better.

Also, the entire city is not below sea level. 20 percent of it never flooded. It's unclear whether everyone is planning on returning, so perhaps some of the low-lying areas should be abandoned. But let's not abandon New Orleans completely. It's absurd even to imagine doing that.
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,492
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visiting from downstream
Blue Velvet said:
Is this what it comes down to? Is this your idea of what a civil society and the idea of community should be?
Without getting into a giant philosophical argument, let me just say a couple of things (because I can see where this is going... many of you all are going to label me as a heartless bastard).

First, it took a few hundred years for New Orleans to go from a podunk fishing village/port to a mid-size metropolis. Most of that expansion was fueled by private enterprise... people working for their own benefit to make a better life for themselves. As a result of all of that hard work, over 300 years, a city was created. Now, however, they're proposing to basically "re-build" New Orleans from scratch (obviously, not all from scratch, but a HUGE amount of rehabilitation and reconstruction will be required), using public funding which, as many of you are no doubt aware, has no backing from existing tax sources. In other words, we're either going to see the deficit rise some more, or we're all going to face tax hikes. So, I *absolutely* have a say in this, being a US taxpayer.

Second, many of you are STILL ignoring the basic fact that the city of New Orleans LIES BELOW SEA LEVEL (not all of it, but most of it), and the only thing keeping Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River out are levees and pumps. Building in a flood plain is stupid, stupid, STUPID, and in any other place, they'd be denied a building permit because the risk of flooding is too great. Here we have an entire city that's in a flood plain, and we let it continue because it was already there. But now the city of New Orleans is flooded, filled with contaminants that would make any EPA scientist blanch (and which are going to cause countless cases of cancer and other diseases down the road), and getting hit by a second hurricane in a matter of weeks.

Please, PLEASE explain to me the logic of expending HUNDREDS of billions of PUBLIC TAX dollars on this. And no sentimentality... arguments like "it's always been there" or "New Orleans is a valuable part of our natural culture" are bogus... the culture ain't going anywhere just because the city has been effectively destroyed.

I am a practical person. I think it's ignorant and stupid to throw good money after bad. Rebuilding New Orleans in its current location is a phenomenally stupid idea. Build it somewhere else, where it won't be dependent on levees and dikes and pumps to keep out the water.
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,492
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wordmunger said:
You should foot part of the bill because you contributed to the global warming that caused the hurricane.
Wrong.

wordmunger said:
You should foot part of the bill if you ever listen to jazz music.
The jazz music doesn't go away because the city does. And even if it did, $300-$700 BILLION (or more) for jazz music hardly seems a good return on investment.

wordmunger said:
You should foot part of the bill because someone else footed part of the bill when a hurricane hit YOUR city of Charlotte.
I didn't live in Charlotte at the time... and even if I did, the damage here was trees and powerlines being down. Certainly nothing that required vast amounts of Federal bailouts.

wordmunger said:
You should NOT foot part of the bill to repeat the same mistakes -- if we're rebuilding New Orleans, we need to rebuild it better.
Agreed. Better = somewhere else.

wordmunger said:
Also, the entire city is not below sea level. 20 percent of it never flooded. It's unclear whether everyone is planning on returning, so perhaps some of the low-lying areas should be abandoned. But let's not abandon New Orleans completely. It's absurd even to imagine doing that.
Oh, well, glad it was as much as 20 percent. :rolleyes:
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
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Sod off
You bring up some good points, but I don't think that you have a sound logical argument for abandoning New Orleans, or declaring it unfit for rehabilitation.

Using the same logic would dictate abandoning Venice too.

The issue is that we are not using our resources efficiently and to their fullest extent.

The levee system is woefully inadaquate, and has not been sufficiently improved.

While it's better to live on high ground, the levee system is basically a sound idea, as long as it is built to withstand a katrina-type storm surge. The existing system was not desgined to protect against this water level, but when rebuilt it could and should be.

It should be obvious to all by now that big cities need to develop a better evacuation plan that can empty a huge city of people within a couple days. Right now people are pretty much on their own; their should be a more formal evacuation sequence that channels people out of the city in a way that uses every available road efficiently to get people out more quickly.
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
clayj said:
It doesn't say wrong, it's one researcher claiming "More research is needed." I bet she wants it spent on her research program, too!

Uh-huh. Let's spend 10 or 15 years doing "research" while the entire eastern seaboard is demolished.

The jazz music doesn't go away because the city does. And even if it did, $300-$700 BILLION (or more) for jazz music hardly seems a good return on investment.
The money isn't for the music, it's for the PEOPLE who made the music. Every city has something valid to contribute. Next it could be Miami, or Long Island.

I didn't live in Charlotte at the time... and even if I did, the damage here was trees and powerlines being down. Certainly nothing that required vast amounts of Federal bailouts.
So you're saying we should only help people recover from disasters if it's cheap enough?

Agreed. Better = somewhere else.
Where would you suggest? The middle of Oklahoma, perhaps, on a nice flat plain? What would half a million people do there? Watch the grass wither in the heat? There's a city where New Orleans is because we need people there to conduct commerce -- shipping up the Mississippi, oil in the Gulf, fisheries, food, you name it. You can't just move it somewhere else. It's there because we NEED a city there.

Oh, well, glad it was as much as 20 percent. :rolleyes:
The 20 percent is the historic area of the town. We still have bourbon street, the garden district, most of downtown. You're saying we should just abandon that because it's going to cost about what we've already spent "fixing" Iraq? Iraq isn't even part of the U.S. How about, if we're given a choice, choosing to repair our own country before we go fixin' someone else's?
 

Lacero

macrumors 604
Jan 20, 2005
6,639
2
Global warming is disputable. If the Earth gets cold instead, well, environmentalists will blame human activity for that as well. You'll never win any arguments against environmentalists.

As for abandoning N.O. I'm all for it. It's a dangerous place to live, much like living at the base of an active volcano.
 

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
21,920
170
Lord Blackadder said:
The issue is that we are not using our resources efficiently and to their fullest extent.

I find it interesting that a small country such as Holland can get its act together over something like this and yet we are told that world's wealthiest nation can not.


The Delta Works was one of the greatest post-war feats of hydraulic engineering in the Netherlands. Immediately after the devastating storm surge of 1953, a Delta Commission was appointed to advise the government on the necessary works to protect the south-western part of the country. The first step was to construct a moveable storm surge barrier in the Hollandse IJssel, east of Rotterdam. This went into operation in 1958. The next move was the closure of the Veerse Gat and the Zandkreek in 1961. This necessitated the building of great sluices to regulate the discharge of water from the major rivers. Huge dams with sluice gates were likewise completed in 1971 to close off the Haringvliet and in 1972 to protect the Brouwershavensche Gat. The Philips and Oester Dams followed in 1974 and 1987 respectively. Plans for the closure of the last open estuary, the Eastern Scheldt, were also on the table, but evoked a clamour of protest from mussel and oyster farmers and environmentalists. They were fiercely opposed to closure on the grounds that it would destroy a unique tidal area and that the Eastern Scheldt was the nursery for many species of North Sea fish. Eventually a compromise was reached. A partially open storm surge barrier would be built, with huge gates that could be closed in the event of high water levels. This would preserve the ecological value of the Eastern Scheldt as a tidal area while at the same time guaranteeing the safety of Zeeland. The resulting storm surge barrier in the Eastern Scheldt is one of the biggest in the world. The components for the moveable gates, each the size of a twelve-storey block of flats, were built in special docks and floated into place before being sunk. The dam was officially opened by Queen Beatrix on 4 October 1986 and the final piece of the Delta Works jigsaw was slotted into place in 1997, when a moveable storm surge barrier was completed in the New Waterway. This consists of two vast gates which are normally kept open but can be closed when a storm is imminent.
http://www.thehollandring.com/1953-ramp.shtml

http://www.deltawerken.com/en/10.html?setlanguage=en
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
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visiting from downstream
wordmunger said:
It doesn't say wrong, it's one researcher claiming "More research is needed." I bet she wants it spent on her research program, too!

Uh-huh. Let's spend 10 or 15 years doing "research" while the entire eastern seaboard is demolished.
Or we can be stupid and continue building things where the ocean can easily get to them.

wordmunger said:
The money isn't for the music, it's for the PEOPLE who made the music. Every city has something valid to contribute. Next it could be Miami, or Long Island.
Wow. I mean, wow. Did you really say that?

The PEOPLE who made the music HAVE been compensated already, when we bought their records. Anything beyond that is charity. Now, I'm all for private charity, but not a public handout on the scale that's being discussed. "Every city has something valid to contribute"? No, every city exists because of the work of its citizenry. If we start keeping cities around just because they USED to be thriving (Hartford, CT springs to mind... or Flint, MI), then we are well and truly screwed. Cities are not immortal, nor should they be... they should exist only as long as their citizenry are able to maintain them.

wordmunger said:
So you're saying we should only help people recover from disasters if it's cheap enough?
Way to twist my words. Hugo <> Katrina for the simple reason that (1) Charlotte isn't below sea level and (2) all we lost here were some trees and powerlines, and a few houses. I'm saying we should put a LOT of thought into how best to spend any public money (which really should be MINIMAL) on a disaster of the scale of Katrina. All I've seen so far is politicians all going "Rebuild, rebuild, no matter the cost!"

wordmunger said:
Where would you suggest? The middle of Oklahoma, perhaps, on a nice flat plain? What would half a million people do there? Watch the grass wither in the heat? There's a city where New Orleans is because we need people there to conduct commerce -- shipping up the Mississippi, oil in the Gulf, fisheries, food, you name it. You can't just move it somewhere else. It's there because we NEED a city there.
Where do you come up with this stuff? Yes, let's resettle them all in the middle of Oklahoma.

Oh, and way to insult the fine citizens of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

wordmunger said:
The 20 percent is the historic area of the town. We still have bourbon street, the garden district, most of downtown. You're saying we should just abandon that because it's going to cost about what we've already spent "fixing" Iraq? Iraq isn't even part of the U.S. How about, if we're given a choice, choosing to repair our own country before we go fixin' someone else's?
Ah, there you go... Johanson's Corollary to Godwin's Law states that the instant Iraq is mentioned in a discussion, the discussion is effectively over as it is no longer useful.
 

Daveway

macrumors 68040
Jul 10, 2004
3,370
0
New Orleans / Lafayette, La
Clay although I appreciate your less than enlightened monologue on why New Orleans should not be rebuilt, I think many would disagree with you.

There are MANY fact that you are not taking into play here. New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in this country. Our ancestors wouldn't have stayed here for hundreds of years if it flooded every year! The reason New Orleans is so F'ed up is because of bad engineering back in the 30s when the Miss. River was being leveed.

New Orleans is below sea level.
Los Angeles lies on a major fault.
Florida sticks out into the ocean.
.................
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,492
402
visiting from downstream
Daveway said:
Clay although I appreciate your less than enlightened monologue on why New Orleans should not be rebuilt, I think many would disagree with you.
Yeah, I've noticed. Still, the fact that my opinions may be unpopular does not make them wrong.

Daveway said:
There are MANY fact that you are not taking into play here. New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in this country.
Irrelevant.

Daveway said:
Our ancestors wouldn't have stayed here for hundreds of years if it flooded every year!
No, they cheated Mother Nature by building levees, dikes, and pumps... ultimately contributing to the present situation. Way to go, guys. Somewhere over in China, they're laughing their asses off that we made the same mistake they did (in their case, it's the Yellow River...). Trying to control flooding and keep water out of specific large areas ALWAYS ends badly.

Daveway said:
The reason New Orleans is so F'ed up is because of bad engineering back in the 30s when the Miss. River was being leveed.
Ah, so the truth comes out... bad engineering + graft and corruption (does the name "Huey Long" mean anything to you?) = New Orleans covered in water. But let's not forget the just plain horrible geography of the area.

Daveway said:
New Orleans is below sea level.
And it's been flooded.
Daveway said:
Los Angeles lies on a major fault.
But not destroyed YET... when it is, I'll be making the same arguments again.
Daveway said:
Florida sticks out into the ocean.
Yet they haven't built Miami or Tampa below sea level.
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
13,720
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Sod off
Lacero said:
Global warming is disputable. If the Earth gets cold instead, well, environmentalists will blame human activity for that as well. You'll never win any arguments against environmentalists.
I'm sure that the next Ice Age will be blamed on pollution somehow. Human impact on the environment is still poorly understood and The Earth is a very dynamic place weather-wise; Not all bad wheather is due to greenhouse gasses or smog.


Lacero said:
As for abandoning N.O. I'm all for it. It's a dangerous place to live, much like living at the base of an active volcano.
Well, personally I wouldn't want to live there, but again the problem has a very clear solution - make the levees effective.

Blue Velvet said:
I find it interesting that a small country such as Holland can get its act together over something like this and yet we are told that world's wealthiest nation can not.
Holland had no choice but to develop these systems because all of it's strategic and economic resources were vulnerable otherwise. I'm not justifying the lack of effort in New Orleans but the US, being much much larger in size, had many more important cities and ports in places that were not as vulnerable. As a result the objectionable lack of interest in devloping the levee system was allowed to continue.

clayj said:
Ah, there you go... Johanson's Corollary to Godwin's Law states that the instant Iraq is mentioned in a discussion, the discussion is effectively over as it is no longer useful.
However much the Iraq situation may be cause for concern/anger/outrage, it's hardly constuctive to make it a swiss-army scapegoat for all that is wrong with the world - I notice people doing this rather too often lately.
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,124
2
North Carolina
Clay, you're ignoring my most important points.

1. Historic New Orleans is ABOVE sea level. Yes, we can fuss about whether we want to repair the slums 20 feet below sea level, but do you really want discard 300 years of history along with it?

2. You can't abandon the area entirely. It's a natural hub of commerce. How will dock workers get to their ships, how will refinery workers get to their platforms, if there's no city there?

3. There are serious ecological consequences to what we do, from global warming to the destruction of delta wetlands that protect the cities that were once 50 miles inland. Is it right to say that New Orleans should be the sacrificial lamb for all this?

Finally, I wish you had one half the sympathy for the people of New Orleans that you appear to have suddenly developed for the people of Oklahoma.
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
13,720
2,757
Sod off
wordmunger said:
Clay, you're ignoring my most important points.

1. Historic New Orleans is ABOVE sea level. Yes, we can fuss about whether we want to repair the slums 20 feet below sea level, but do you really want discard 300 years of history along with it?
I wonder how much thought, if any, has gone into raising parts of the city with fill.

And I definitely agree that the historic parts of New Orleans should be protected and preserved - anyway they survived rather well, so claiming that New Orleans was originally poorly sited looks shaky.
 

takao

macrumors 68040
Dec 25, 2003
3,820
441
Dornbirn (Austria)
wordmunger said:
1. Historic New Orleans is ABOVE sea level. Yes, we can fuss about whether we want to repair the slums 20 feet below sea level, but do you really want discard 300 years of history along with it?
afaik new orleans is suffering the same problem like venice: geologically it is sinking in (in venice there are further problems) something which perhaps couldn't be anticipated hundreds of years ago
 

wrc fan

macrumors 65816
Daveway said:
Los Angeles lies on a major fault.
Los Angeles doesn't actually lie on a major fault (it does have many minor faults though), it's just near it, as is basically every city in California. San Francisco is actually much closer to the San Andreas fault than Los Angeles (see attached image).

I agree with clayj, that we as a nation should not be rebuilding New Orleans. That doesn't mean that the historic district should be torn down or anything, but that anywhere that is distroyed should not be rebuilt.

You bring up earthquakes in California as another example of this, and in some ways it is a valid point, but earthquakes don't happen nearly as often as it rains in New Orleans. Every time it rains those pumps have to pump out the water from the city. If there were as many earthquakes that could be felt (as the earth is constantly moving and having little tremors) as times it rained in New Orleans, then I'm sure all of California would be abandonded.

Another statement that it's one of the oldest cities, that it has a lot of historical heritage, etc... is not a valid point. Over time many of the first cities have dissapeared. Hear of anyone living in Ur lately? I didn't think so. Those cities have been abandoned for one reason or another, and there is no reason why in modern times a city should not be abandonded as well. Humans are blessed to be living in a time when we have such control over our environment, but there are times when it is just not feasable to continue living in an area, and at those times rather than rashly rebuild the city* we should make a better plan for the future.

*San Francisco is a case of a rashly rebuilt city after the 1906 quake, even though more damage was caused by fire than from the quake -- and fire is usually a human caused problem -- I wouldn't say Chicago or London should have been abandonded because of their fires. But like New Orleans, San Francisco has a great history, does this mean it should be preserved forever, even after the next big earthquake that the media believes will come "really soon now"? If the "Big One" ever does destroy San Francisco, then no, I don't think it should be rebuilt.
 

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