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View Full Version : Feds to Rebuild New Orleans Levees



registerthis
12-15-2005, 03:54 PM
Note the highlighted text below. Question; Why would they even consider building anything less than levees capable of withstanding a category 5 storm? Did they learn NOTHING from Katrina?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051215/ap_on_go_pr_wh/bush_katrina_4;_ylt=ApV5csmwvWd.b9PSU7xk6LcbLisB;_ ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl


Feds to Rebuild New Orleans Levees By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 42 minutes ago


WASHINGTON - President Bush will request $1.5 billion more to help rebuild the levee system in New Orleans, the top federal official for reconstruction announced Thursday.

"The levee system will be better and safer than it's ever been before," Donald Powell said at the White House.

At a news briefing, officials dodged the question of whether the levees would be built to a Category 5, using broader language instead to promise that the city's citizens would be safe and the levees would be "stronger and better."

"The federal government is committed to building the best levee system known in the world," said Powell. "It's a complicated issue."

The announcement came after Bush met in the Oval Office with Powell, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers.

"We understand that the people of New Orleans need to be assured that they're going to be safe when they get back home, that their city has an infrastructure that is capable of sustaining a possible storm next season or in the seasons afterward," Chertoff said.

Katrina, a Category 4 storm, surged through the city's levees at numerous points when it struck on Aug. 29, killing more than 1,300 people in Gulf Coast states. Gov. Kathleen Blanco and other Louisiana officials, as well as businesses and homeowners, have argued that the levees must be improved to protect against Category 5 storms if the New Orleans metropolitan area hopes to persuade people to return.

Nagin thanked Americans for the money to rebuild New Orleans and told former residents of the city to come home.

"It's time for you to come back to the Big Easy," he said. "This action today says come home to New Orleans."

Nagin said the levee system will be stronger than ever.

"These levees will be as high as 17 feet in some areas. We've never had that," he said. "We will have the holy trinity of recovery levees, housing and incentives."

Officials said the levee system would be rebuilt to its previous level of protection before the hurricane season next year, and that the process of strengthening them further would take two years.

Nagin acknowledged that the most heavily devastated areas of the city Lakeview and the Lower Ninth Ward were not ready for returning residents, but he promised they would be eventually. He suggested that officials may need to find housing elsewhere in the city in the meantime.

"At the end of the day, our entire city will be rebuilt," he said.

Powell said that design and construction flaws will be corrected within the levee system. The $1.5 billion that the president is requesting would pay to armor the levee system with concrete and stone, close three interior canals and provide state-of-the art pumping systems so that the water would flow out of the canals into Lake Pontchartrain.

Breaches at both the 17th Street and London Avenue canals allowed flood water to inundate large areas of the city from close to Lake Pontchartrain to the edge of downtown. These areas which included several universities as well as thousands of homes and businesses likely would have been spared widespread flooding if the levees had held up against pressure from water that rose above normal levels but did not flow over the top of the flood walls.

Chertoff said the federal government has already provided $5.2 billion in direct assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, but the government also needs to provide hope to the victims.

On Capitol Hill, meantime, Senate tax-writers embraced the casinos, golf courses and liquor stores as part of a roughly $7 billion program of tax incentives to rebuild Gulf Coast businesses damaged or destroyed by hurricanes.

The Senate could act as soon as Thursday on a package of tax breaks and other assistance that fulfills Bush's call for a special business zone in the Gulf Coast. Lawmakers hurried to finish the bill before taking a holiday break. The House earlier had denied including the casino and other businesses in the tax relief.

The House last week passed its own package of aid. Its key benefits matched the Senate and included increased write-offs for small business investments and an additional write-offs for other businesses purchasing equipment and new property.

Reds4Life
12-15-2005, 04:07 PM
This discussion would be better served on the other forum.

registerthis
12-15-2005, 05:44 PM
May I ask why?

This isn't a political discussion...at least, that's not its intent.

Reds4Life
12-15-2005, 05:49 PM
May I ask why?

This isn't a political discussion...at least, that's not its intent.

In my view it is and it would be best served on Ochre's forum.

919191
12-15-2005, 06:30 PM
It isn't a discussion at all yet. I bet it gets political though.

registerthis
12-15-2005, 06:50 PM
A little quick on the trigger, methinks. This isn't a political issue, it's a question of whether the announcement by FEMA is appropriate. If this thread is inappropriate for this board, it's only because certain people would turn this into a political thread, not because it is one.

Unassisted
12-15-2005, 07:06 PM
I'm also opposed to this because it doesn't provide Cat 5 protection. The solution that would provide enough protection costs at least 4x as much. I'm not that I'd support that one either, because of the cost.

AFAIK, there is no way to refute that without involving politics.

Joseph
12-15-2005, 09:15 PM
I'm also opposed to this because it doesn't provide Cat 5 protection. The solution that would provide enough protection costs at least 4x as much. I'm not that I'd support that one either, because of the cost.

AFAIK, there is no way to refute that without involving politics.

That's a tad egotistical isn't it? I mean I see you lead with the precursor AFAIK, but still cut us a little slack at least, we could surely refute it if we wanted to dig up the stats on what providing category 5 protection would cost without involving politics. ;)

Just busting your chops man.

registerthis
12-16-2005, 11:19 AM
That's a tad egotistical isn't it? I mean I see you lead with the precursor AFAIK, but still cut us a little slack at least, we could surely refute it if we wanted to dig up the stats on what providing category 5 protection would cost without involving politics. ;)
Just busting your chops man.

What are the cost estimates for Cat 5 protection--have they been done? The donations to the rebuilding efforts were record amounts, wouldn't any of that money go to the rebuilding of the levees, or is this completely and totally federal funds?

Unassisted
12-16-2005, 11:29 AM
What are the cost estimates for Cat 5 protection--have they been done?

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/29/news/orleans.php

The cost of any significant upgrade, however, will be enormous - more than the $21 billion spent on New York City after 9/11, but less than the $57 billion to be spent on highway construction and maintenance in the recent federal transportation bill. Washington and state governments spend about $160 billion a year on infrastructure, including roads, transit and utilities, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

If you believe that estimate, then the funding approved is woefully inadequate.

According to this Wash post article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/08/AR2005100801458_pf.html), the Army Corps' official study of Cat 5 protection was never completed.


The study of Category 5 protection has languished, too. The first phase was completed in 2002, and the Corps recommended a five-year, $12 million feasibility study. But there has been no money to continue, so the study is on hold.

I heard that 4x multiplier I cited in a PBS Frontline documentary from a few weeks ago.

registerthis
12-16-2005, 11:46 AM
It just seems to me that you either guarantee the safety of the residents of new orleans against future hurricanes, or you scrap plans to rebuild the city and encouraging people to move back. I don't see how the government could, in good conscience, encourage people to return to New orleans and claim that it is safe, while rebuilding a levee system that is not even desgined to be able to handle a katrina-type storm again. Seems woefully irresponsible.

SandyD
12-16-2005, 11:57 AM
I should stay out of this, since I'm really too close to the situation, but I want to make sure you are aware of some of the stuff we're hearing locally.

First: We're hearing "this is a good first step, and we have to start somewhere." But this plan does little more than bring us to where we were supposed to be before.

Second: The existing levees were either poorly designed or not constructed to engineers specifications, depending on who you believe. There's a lot of testing going on to determine why the levees failed. The storm surge in this area was closer to that associated with a cat 1 or 2 rather than a 4 storm. The eye did not pass over New Orleans.

Third: Nash Roberts ... who was considered a hurricane/weather god around here for years and was highly respected by the NHS for his abilities to forecast storm tracks ... about the time of Camille (1969). He said it would be nearly impossible for a cat 5 hurricane to hit New Orleans. He showed how if the storm came from this way, it would bounce that way, and the other way, it would bounce another way. But that was 35 years and a lot of coastal erosion ago.

Fourth: They say this is for "levees" but this plan also involves the pumping system which protects the city from heavy rainfall, which we get every spring. So, this isn't just for hurricane protection.

The number I'm hearing for cat 5 hurricane protection is around $34 billion, but I'm doing that from memory. Can't find my source. And would take 10 years. At least. Because coastal restoration/wetlands protection is a key component.

Unassisted
12-16-2005, 01:11 PM
I think if Cat 5 protection isn't provided that residents and businesses will have trouble getting property and casualty insurance at affordable rates, if they can get it at all. I've already heard that some businesses are declining to return until protection is provided at that level.

Should government spend an amount equivalent to half of the annual federal highway budget to provide that protection?

registerthis
12-16-2005, 04:39 PM
Should government spend an amount equivalent to half of the annual federal highway budget to provide that protection?

Depends on how valuable it is deemed to be to keep new orleans a viable port of commerce.

pedro
12-16-2005, 06:26 PM
IIRC, the number I read in the NY Times estimated for Cat 5 levee upgrades was 32 billion dollars.

SandyD
12-16-2005, 07:40 PM
You're right, pedro. But I don't think that figure is cat 5 LEVEE upgrades. It's hurricane protection. It includes projects to protect/restore wetlands which used to absorb the storm surge before it got to New Orleans.

There's a lot more to it than the levees.

This plan would not only protect the port, but also about 8 oil refineries plus at least one gas pipeline. What's the economic impact to the country as a whole if the port fails? Of rebuilding the refineries and pipelines in other locations?

$32 billion is a lot of money, but this project would take at least 10 years. Doesn't have to come all at once. Don't want people to turn away from the project based on the pricetag alone. Let's take time to look at it from all sides.

GAC
12-18-2005, 11:05 AM
I fully understand people's emotional and historical attachment to this region and N.O., but personally I don't think you can build a protective system to adequately and safely protect the people when the region, from a geographical and environmental standpoint, is one huge "dangerzone".

Chip R
12-18-2005, 07:20 PM
I fully understand people's emotional and historical attachment to this region and N.O., but personally I don't think you can build a protective system to adequately and safely protect the people when the region, from a geographical and environmental standpoint, is one huge "dangerzone".

You could pretty much say the same thing for San Francisco and Los Angeles. They are both on fault lines and if a big earthquake hits in just the right places, it will be a disaster. And you could also say the same thing about any city on the Gulf coast and the lower eastern seaboard. They could get hit with hurricanes just as easy as New Orleans could again. It's not just an emotional and historic attachment. It's economic as well. You remember how much gas prices went up after Katrina? As for guaranteeing those levees won't break, something like that is tough to do. It's not like buying a car and getting a guarantee it will run or your money back. What happens if those levees break again even after they were guaranteed to hold up? That isn't the type of thing you can get your money back on. If a city like Chicago got hit with a tornado that caused major damage people wouldn't just say. "To hell with them. It costs too much to fix. If they didn't want to get hit by tornadoes they shouldn't live there." I don't hear people saying that they shouldn't have built L.A. on a fault line.

GAC
12-18-2005, 08:59 PM
And you could also say the same thing about any city on the Gulf coast and the lower eastern seaboard. They could get hit with hurricanes just as easy as New Orleans could again.

Yes, but are those areas below sea level and have to have intricate levee systems to the north and south keep the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain from pouring into the center of the city? Without this drainage system, much of the city would be engulfed in water. New Orleans occupies swampland created by millions of years' worth of silt deposits from the Mississippi River.

Ironically, all the pumps, canals, and levees that work so hard to keep New Orleans above water are actually causing the city to sink at a rate of three feet per century. Some scientists predict that by the year 2100, the "City That Care Forgot" will be under water. Does New Orleans have a deep-sea Mardi Gras in its future?


If a city like Chicago got hit with a tornado that caused major damage people wouldn't just say. "To hell with them. It costs too much to fix. If they didn't want to get hit by tornadoes they shouldn't live there." I don't hear people saying that they shouldn't have built L.A. on a fault line.

How often does Chicago get hit by a tornado? Is Chicago at a geographical disadvantage? N.O. is, and also sits in a hurricane zone.

SandyD
12-19-2005, 02:03 AM
GAC, it's not just the pumps, canals, levees. The digging for oil and dredging of the river. The loss of the surrounding wetlands and barrier islands. For centuries, New Orleans was at less of a disadvantage than Miami, for example. The coast was farther away. The surrounding wetlands that are disappearing protected New Orleans from a direct hit.

Not all of New Orleans is below sea level. And if the levee system that we already have lived up to its promised cat 3 protection, we'd be pretty much back to normal by now. We'd hardly know anything happened.

And don't underestimate the economic impact of the port of New Orleans. If the port doesn't recover, it'll cost more to export midwestern ag products and to import bulk supplies for midwestern factories.

I'm hoping that the city planners will take a good look at how and where we build. Create a smaller but stronger city, and build an infrastructure that includes light rail from Baton Rouge to Gulfport Ms. Think more regionally than locally.

That's my hope, but I can't see beyond my early morning wake up call.