Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Baddest Levees in the Whole Damn Town

Badder than old King Kong. Meaner than a junkyard dog. Ladies and gentlemen, your Mississippi River Levees:

“But even though they were overtopped, they held up,” [LSU storm researcher Hassan] Mashriqui said. “There were no breaches. They did much better than the levees along (the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet) or the other canals in New Orleans.

“That’s how levees should be built everywhere in this area.”
We can build levees that work because we already have. The Mississippi River levees are bad mo-fo’s. Katrina topped them in Lower Plaquemines with 20-foot surge plus 10-foot waves, but she couldn’t break them.

Unfortunately, those areas were still flooded by 15 feet of water. But, they didn’t see the full force of the Mighty Mississippi because the levees held.

Why weren’t the hurricane protection levees bad mo-fo’s as well?
…the river levee was built to handle the worst that could be thrown at it, while the hurricane protection system was designed for something less than the strongest hurricane.
Also, in 1965, Congress authorized the Army Corps to build for the “standard project hurricane,” not the “probable maximum hurricane.”

Guess which one Katrina more closely resembled.

If there is any doubt that we can build levees that can protect Southern Louisiana from major hurricanes, listen to the experts:
But when Mashriqui looks at the levees along the Mississippi River, he sees something else entirely. He sees success.

“Those levees are the example of how levees should be built in a region of frequent storms,” said Mashriqui, one of the nation’s top authorities on storm surge, the huge waves pushed ahead of a hurricane. “They didn’t just hold up well — you could say they saved a lot of flooding on the west side of the river.”
But you get what you pay for:
[Army Corps project manager Al] Naomi said the report shows Congress clearly chose not to supply the maximum protection for hurricanes as it did for Mississippi River floods.

“Obviously we can design levees that work, it’s just a question of to what degree you are willing to invest in that system to make them work,” he said.
Obviously.

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