Monthly Archives: August 2005

Unwatering New Orleans FAQ

I was just poking around the Army Corps of Engineers website and I found the following (and apparently recent) FAQ on unwatering New Orleans in Word format. I’m reprinting it here so that it will be more accessible and in a web friendly format.

Q. How long will it take to get the water out of New Orleans?

A. We are unsure. A number of factors play into this. First, Lake Pontchartrain is at roughly 4.5 feet above sea level and falling. The city is at a lower elevation so water will continue to flow into it until it equalizes.

Once the breach on the 7th Street Canal is closed, Pump Station 6 can pump 10,000 cubic feet per second.

Once the breaches are closed and all of the pumps are running, the pumps can lower the water level 1/2 inch per hour or about a foot per day. We can get the water level to sea level in four and a half days. The 1/2 inch rate assumes the late is at normal levels. That would create pumping inefficiency, as could trash in drains and canals that feed into the pump stations.

That’s a “Best Case” scenario. We don’t know the conditions of all of the pumps. Fortunately most of the pump motors and controllers are at an elevation greater than 5 feet and we hope they weren’t submerged. There could be other unforeseen problems.

We assume the pumps have not been submerged since most pumps are at an elevation greater than five feet above sea level.

Pumps are operated and maintained by the local sewage and drainage districts.

Q. Why did the levees fail?

A. What failed were actually floodwalls, not levees. This was caused by overtopping which caused scouring, or an eating away of the earthen support, which then basically undermined the wall.

These walls and levees were designed to withstand a fast moving category 3 hurricane. Katrina was a strong 4 at landfall, and conditions exceeded the design.

Q. How many other areas do you need to get water out of?

A. There are at least five ringed levees (areas surrounded by levees) that need to be emptied. New Orleans and Jefferson; New Orleans to Venice (Hurricane Protection project – Port Sulfur to Venice, LA); Chalmette Loop (lower 9th ward of Orleans Parish and Urbanized part of St. Bernard Parrish ); and, Plaquemines Parish non-federal levees have also been overtopped.

Q. What will be done to unwater these areas?

A. The unwatering plan will be used in these areas as well. Crews and equipment will be mobilized to breach the levees at predetermined locations and allow for gravity drainage into Lake Bourgne or other surrounding water bodies.

Post Katrina Mobile, AL Image

I just noticed that http://www.spaceimaging.com/ currently has images from August 30 in Mobile, Alabama on their front page (but nothing yet from New Orleans). You can zoom in on the image and move around so I was able to locate and clearly see the bridge where the oil drilling platform floated under it. I’m not familiar enough with Mobile to immediately spot any other effects from Kantrina with just a quick scan of the images. Let me know if there’s anything significant that I missed.

Hurricane Katrina: katrinahelp.info

Rob Kline has asked that I point people towards katrinahelp.info a collaborative Wiki that has been setup to get people information and assistance in dealing with Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. According to the site:

This page is intended to be modeled on the excellent tsunami wiki site that was created around December 26, 2004. Please take a look at the work done there. I am also looking for people to take blog postings and classify them properly on this wiki.

If you’re web savvy and interested in helping out, this looks like a great way to help out from afar.

Hurricane Katrina Update

New Orleans isn’t out of the woods yet by any means, but it looks like the strange course change that Katrina made shortly before making landfall prevented the predicted worst case scenarios from happening. Here are a few different links with more up to date information:

The SuperDome roof didn’t hold up too well as Wonkin’ in Detroit shows.

New Orleans Metroblogging has the best coverage of damage and flooding in the various parishes in and around New Orleans.

Flickr has a Hurricane Katrina Photo Group

Josh Britton has also been doing a ton of posting on Hurricane Katrina (although he just lost power).

This guy is running a photolog on the hurricane and he’s doing it via cellphone, car battery power and a free dialup AOL account.

And of course brendanloy.com still has a ton of good information as well.

President Bush Speech

Was anyone else irritated that the bulk of President Bush’s speech was about the Iraqi constitutional process? I walked in on the speech after he was already going on about the situation in Iraq and sat there watching in disbelief until Mary told me that he had actually talked about Hurricane Katrina in the first part. To me it’s completely ridiculous that he spent one iota of time discussing the situation in Iraq when New Orleans is about to get wiped out.

The country and economy that are President Bush’s primary responsibility are about to take a hit that could approach 100 billion dollars by some accounts. Something like a third of the nation’s oil processing infrastructure is going to be affected by this hurricane. This is not just a problem for the people of the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. This is a situation that we’re all going to feel the effects of for a long time and it’s extremely disappointing to me that he spent time defending his pet project in Iraq in the face of a looming disaster on U.S. soil.

Update: I definitely wasn’t off base. The Lumberyard did the math and here are the stats:

Entire speech: 1022 words total
Katrina: 203 words
Iraq: 819 words
That’s right, a Category 5 hurricane is poised to hit one of America’s largest cities, and the president only spends exactly 20 percent of his speech on this issue, and 80 percent on Iraq.