note that nothing on this website is official information.
MODELS FOR NEW ORLEANS STORMS BETTER THREE YEARS ON - LINK HERE.
NATURAL DETENTION V. MAN-MADE RETENTION; NEXT
HURRICANE A THREAT
TO THE VIEUX CARRE (FRENCH QUARTER - MINUS
THE ACCENT AIGU?)
A current view of the marshes just north of Venice, La. Center,
rain already has begun to etch deep gullies in a section of the
MR-GO levee rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina (from Times-Picayune).
long said the only way to restore Louisiana's vanishing wetlands is to
undo the elaborate levee system that controls the Mississippi River.
NEWER HERE; In 2006, they were
are now recommending that the
river be diverted.
NEW ORLEANS' REVIVAL: NEW - Oil
spill impact; (2009)
global business/legal bad news: background on the web here - http://www.photonwatcher.us/interior.htm
After another failure, BP
new plan to keep oil from flowing into Gulf of Mexico
BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press Writer
9:34 AM EDT, May 30, 2010
ROBERT, La. (AP) — With BP declaring failure in its latest attempt to
plug the uncontrolled gusher feeding the worst oil spill in U.S.
history, the company is turning to yet another mix of risky undersea
robot maneuvers and longshot odds to keep crude from flowing into the
Six weeks after the catastrophe began, oil giant BP PLC is still
casting about for at least a temporary fix to the spewing well
underneath the Gulf of Mexico that's fouling beaches, wildlife and
marshland. A relief well that's currently being drilled — which is
supposed to be a better long-term solution — won't be done for at least
two months. That would be in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane
season, which begins Tuesday.
President Barack Obama said it is "as enraging as it is heartbreaking"
that the most ambitious bid yet for a temporary solution failed. BP
said Saturday that the procedure known as the "top kill" failed after
engineers tried for three days to overwhelm the crippled well with
heavy drilling mud and junk 5,000 feet underwater. Now, BP hopes
saw through a pipe leading out from the well and cap it with a
funnel-like device using the same remotely guided undersea robots that
have failed in other tries to stop the gusher.
Robert Dudley, BP's managing director, said on "Fox News Sunday" that
company officials were disappointed that they "failed to wrestle this
beast to the ground."
Engineers will use remotely guided undersea robots to try to lower a
cap onto the leak after cutting off part of a busted pipe leading out
from the well. The funnel-like device is similar to a huge containment
box that failed before when it became clogged with icelike slush.
Dudley said officials "learned a lot" from that failure and will pump
warm water through the pipes to prevent the ice problems.
The spill is the worst in U.S. history — exceeding even the 1989 Exxon
Valdez disaster — and has dumped between 18 million and 40 million
gallons into the Gulf, according to government estimates. The leak
began after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April,
killing 11 people. Suttles said BP is already preparing for the
temporary fix. The company plans to cut off the damaged riser, and then
try to cap it with a containment valve. The effort is expected to take
between four and seven days.
"This scares everybody, the fact that we can't make this well stop
flowing, the fact that we haven't succeeded so far," BP Chief Operating
Officer Doug Suttles said Saturday. "Many of the things we're trying
have been done on the surface before, but have never been tried at
He said cutting off the damaged riser isn't expected to cause the flow
rate of leaking oil to increase significantly. Experts have said
a bend in the damaged riser likely was restricting the flow of oil
somewhat, so slicing it off and installing a new containment valve is
"If they can't get that valve on, things will get much worse," said
Philip W. Johnson, an engineering professor at the University of
Johnson said he thinks BP can succeed with the valve, but added: "It's
a scary proposition."
News that the top kill fell short drew a sharply worded response from
President Obama on Saturday, a day after he visited the Gulf Coast to
see the damage firsthand.
"It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking, and we will not relent until
this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and
until the people unjustly victimized by this manmade disaster are made
whole," Obama said.
In the days after the spill, BP was unable to use robot submarines to
close valves on the massive blowout preventer atop the damaged well,
then two weeks later, ice-like crystals clogged a 100-ton box the
company tried placing over the leak. Earlier this week, engineers
removed a mile-long siphon tube after it sucked up a disappointing
900,000 gallons of oil from the gusher.
Frustration has grown as drifting oil closes beaches and washes up in
sensitive marshland. The damage is underscored by images of pelicans
and their eggs coated in oil. Below the surface, oyster beds and shrimp
nurseries face certain death. Fishermen complain there's no end in
sight to the catastrophe that's keeping their boats idle. In the
latest try, BP engineers pumped more than 1.2 million gallons of heavy
drilling mud into the well and also shot in assorted junk, including
metal pieces and rubber balls.
The hope was that the mud force-fed into the well would overwhelm the
upward flow of oil and natural gas. But Suttles said most of the mud
escaped out of the damaged pipe that's leaking the oil, called a
riser. Word that the top kill had failed hit hard in fishing
communities along Louisiana's coast.
"Everybody's starting to realize this summer's lost. And our whole
lifestyle might be lost," said Michael Ballay, the 59-year-old manager
of the Cypress Cove Marina in Venice, La., near where oil first made
landfall in large quantities almost two weeks ago. Johnny Nunez,
of Fishing Magician Charters in Shell Beach, La., said the spill is
hurting his business during what's normally the best time of year — and
there's no end in sight.
"If fishing's bad for five years, I'll be 60 years old. I'll be done
for," he said after watching BP's televised announcement.
The top official in coastal Plaquemines Parish said news of the top
kill failure brought tears to his eyes.
"They are going to destroy south Louisiana. We are dying a slow death
here," said Billy Nungesser, the parish president. "We don't have time
to wait while they try solutions. Hurricane season starts on Tuesday."
How about seizing one of these? No one would ever notice!
Lawyers: Chinese drywall makers
By CAIN BURDEAU Associated Press Writer
Updated: 09/28/2009 02:14:34 PM EDT
NEW ORLEANS—Lawyers representing homeowners and homebuilders who used
drywall suspected of causing corrosion and possible health risks say
they expect Chinese companies that made the wallboard to ignore
hundreds of lawsuits filed against them in U.S. courts.
So, who's going to be on the hook for any damages courts might award?
That's the pivotal question for lawyers as they pursue about 300
lawsuits in U.S. District Court in New Orleans that allege a flood of
defective Chinese drywall was sent into the United States after a
string of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. The material is known to decay,
creating corrosive chemicals and fumes.
Among tactics lawyers are considering are suits against U.S. investment
bankers who financed the Chinese companies, and seizing ships that
brought the drywall to the United States.
This would not be the first time Chinese companies have ignored U.S.
liability suits, said Russ Herman, a lead plaintiffs lawyer in the
"They've done that with toxic edibles, with toys, with (blood thinner)
heparin, milk, you name it," Herman said.
Kerry Miller, lead lawyer for the defendants, agreed. He represents
U.S. homebuilders, drywall installers, distributors and Knauf
Plasterboard Tianjin Co., the only Chinese company that's recognized
the lawsuits so far. The defendants want Chinese manufacturers to
respond in court because they, too, are seeking damages from the
Miller said Chinese companies are able to dodge service in U.S.
courts. Last week, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon found one
Chinese company, Taishan Gypsum Co., in contempt of court for ignoring
the suits. The lawyers said Chinese companies are virtually
insulated against liability in U.S. suits because suing them through
international court is costly and time-consuming and civil judgments in
U.S. courts are not enforced in China.
Jonathan C. Drimmer, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, a
Washington, D.C., law firm that specializes in international
litigation, said that historically plaintiffs lawyers have avoided
suing foreign manufacturers. Lawyers "won't pursue an action if they
don't see a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow," Drimmer said.
"This is not a typical U.S. drug problem case, a U.S. environmental
case, this is different. We're all being forced to think outside the
box," Miller said. "It's very difficult to resolve this complex
situation when you only have a fraction of the parties in the court."
Herman said plaintiffs' lawyers were up to the challenge. "I think we
can bust the dam in this case," he said.
He said making that happen could involve attempts to obtain damage
payments by seizing vessels that brought the drywall to the United
States if they return to U.S. ports and even going after Wall Street
investment banks with a share of ownership in the Chinese companies.
"We've got financial institutions in the United States that have
substantial investments in these companies that caused these problems,"
Herman said. He couldn't say which U.S. financial institutions could be
sued for damages.
Miller said lawyers are considering asking courts to seize vessels that
delivered the drywall.
"It's an interesting concept and if it can work to get the attention of
these other Chinese companies, that's what needs to be done," he said.
"Getting the missing parties to the table" was paramount, he said.
But seizing vessels—known as an "in rem" action, which often involves
filing a lien against a vessel—and going after shareholders would
hardly be easy, said Mark Ross, a Lafayette, La., lawyer who
specializes in maritime law and civil litigation.
"My gut reaction is that that could be a bit of a stretch. In rem could
be seen as a severe action, seizing a vessel, tying it up for a day,"
"How do you go about identifying what vessels to seize?" Ross said.
"How do you seize a vessel for merely transporting cargo, which they
might have been required to take by law."
A ship owner could sue if the seizure were deemed too aggressive, Ross
As for going after investors, Ross said that too was far-fetched.
"Smart money says that's not going to work. A shareholder? Probably
not. I don't know if that exposes them to liability."
Still, Herman remains sanguine.
"You're talking about billions of dollars" at stake, Herman said.
"We're going to find some ways to make them responsive."
HURRICANES: the basics
from I-BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4588149.stm
Orleans Commission to Seek
Overhaul of Schools and Transit
By GARY RIVLIN
Published: January 11, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 10 - The commission devising a blueprint to
reconstruct the city will propose on Wednesday a complete
reorganization of the troubled school system, the elimination of a
76-mile shipping channel that was a prime cause of flooding after
Hurricane Katrina and the creation of a new jazz district downtown...
The most controversial proposal, reported on Sunday by The New York
Times, would have allowed residents to return soon to all sections of
the city but within a year would close those neighborhoods that did not
achieve a critical mass of residents. A leader of the commission,
Joseph C. Canizaro, said Tuesday that members had modified that
proposal over the last two days and now believed that no one should be
allowed back into the most damaged neighborhoods until June.
City services will probably be more readily available then, Mr.
Canizaro said, and the extra time will allow the city to identify who
wants to return and set up planning teams for each neighborhood.
"My concern," he said, "is for people who have the money and we let fix
up a place and then they find themselves sitting all by themselves
without any neighbors around."
By Aug. 20, under the plan, the city should begin the neighborhood
reconstruction and should begin acquiring property for public projects
like expanding parks. Some low-lying neighborhoods may become parks or
marshland if they do not attract enough housing development.
One measure of whether a neighborhood will succeed will be whether it
has enough residents to justify a high school and two primary schools.
An essential element, Mr. Canizaro said, is forming the Crescent City
Recovery Corporation, through which federal funds would flow. The
corporation would have the power to buy and sell property for
redevelopment, including the use of eminent domain, and could issue
Board members of the recovery corporation, to number seven to 15 under
the plan, would be appointed by the president, the governor, the mayor
and the City Council.
"If we don't get a reconstruction authority in place right away, we
won't have a chance with implementation," Mr. Canizaro said. To
create such an agency, however, the city needs to amend its charter, he
and others said...
Would Open All New Orleans for Rebuilding
By GARY RIVLIN
Published: January 8, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 7 - The city's official blueprint for redevelopment
after Hurricane Katrina, to be released on Wednesday, will recommend
that residents be allowed to return and rebuild anywhere they like, no
matter how damaged or vulnerable the neighborhood, according to several
members of the mayor's rebuilding commission.
The proposal appears to put the city's rebuilding panel on a collision
course with its state counterpart, which will control at least some of
the flow of federal rebuilding money to the city....full
New Orleans Rebuilding
By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer
Sun Nov 13, 6:07 AM ET
NEW ORLEANS - Michael Willis has designed an airport terminal
Francisco and a 750 million-gallon water treatment plant in Los
Angeles, but nothing on the architect's resume gives him a blueprint
for rebuilding New Orleans.
since the Nazi blitz of London or the bombing of Hiroshima have
architects and urban planners seen a project on par with resurrecting
this hurricane-ravaged city, according to Willis.
"The scale of it overwhelms the normal city planning
said Saturday during a break at the Louisiana Recovery and Rebuilding
Conference, a state-sponsored event organized by the American Institute
of Architects to discuss the city's future.
Hundreds of civic and business leaders, elected officials and
planning experts have been weighing the options during the three-day
conference that wrapped up Saturday. The goal: come up with written
agenda to help guide the massive rebuilding effort.
you can plan something like this, you have to get the
fundamentals. You've got to work the principles out," said Ron
Faucheux, head of government affairs for the Washington-based AIA.
Several architects, including Willis, urged civic leaders to avoid a
"one-size-fits-all" approach. This is a unique opportunity to create
"walkable," densely populated
neighborhoods with a rich texture of demographic and architectural
diversity, said David Dixon, a principal at the Boston-based Goody,
Clancy architectural firm.
"New Orleans can go one of two directions: It can be Las
city based on entertainment," he said, "or it can be America's
greenest, most walkable city." Preserving historic architecture must be
a guiding principle for any approach, Willis said.
the end of the day, it's got to look and feel like New Orleans," he
said. For the audience, though, the cost of rebuilding was a major
concern, and Dixon's suggestion that state and local officials share
the financial burden with the federal government didn't go over well.
"We don't have money. We have zero revenue at the moment,"
Councilwoman Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, who represents the French
Quarter. The mayor already cut the city's work force by half, the state
facing a nearly $1 billion deficit, and hundreds of businesses and
homes that supported the city's tax base have been destroyed.
Tom Reese, who works at Tulane University and has researched
contemporary architecture, said the architects were "selling dreams"
when they urged city leaders to embrace planning concepts like "smart
growth," "green architecture" and mixed-use developments.
"There is so little discussion about the economic realities
region," he said. "If you don't know that, you can't begin to create
any kind of solution."
storm-hit New Orleans
Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall have met survivors of Hurricane
Katrina in New Orleans.
They visited the lower Ninth Ward, one of the
areas worst hit, and climbed a levee to view the storm's destruction.
When asked by a reporter what struck him most,
the prince said: "Incredible resilience, despite awful loss. Where
there's life, there's hope."
The royal couple, on the fifth day of their US
tour, also went to a Catholic school in the French Quarter. The
couple travelled to the lower Ninth Ward in a convoy of 17 vehicles and
14 police motorbikes. There were many uprooted trees, damaged
homes and upturned cars in the area one resident described as "New
Orleans' Ground Zero".
BBC News royal correspondent Peter Hunt said:
"It was a grim vista wherever they looked." The royal couple met
emergency workers and the Jones family, who lost their home in the
hurricane. The family are among people
temporarily living in one of two cruise ships brought in to provide
On top of the windy levee the prince was shown
photographs of the destruction immediately after Katrina struck and how
the barrier was repaired by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Red
Cross worker Frances Barker told reporters at the levee: "They were
really gracious people. He just said 'keep up the good work'".
At the school, Cathedral Academy, they were
greeted by a crowd of around 500 people. The couple were given
traditional colourful Mardi Gras beads which they wore around their
necks for the visit. Earlier, their flight from Washington was
greeted by an airport ceremony. The royal visit is seen as
helping to focus international attention on the recovery effort
following Katrina, which killed around 1,200 people.
About 80% of New Orleans was left
underwater after August's hurricane. On Thursday, Prince Charles
donated $25,000 (£14,000) from an architecture prize he received
in Washington to help in the reconstruction of hurricane-hit
towns. The couple's US visit has included a stop at Ground Zero
in Manhattan where they honoured victims of the 11 September attacks.
They will later fly to San Francisco where
their tour will end.
evict Florida's 2004 hurricane victims
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
By Audrey Hudson
August 20, 2006
Hurricane victims living in temporary housing more than two years after
four devastating storms struck Florida's coast must find permanent
homes by the end of next month. More than 90 percent of the
hurricane victims have moved out of the travel trailers and mobile
homes, which were meant to be used as a short-term solution to the
immediate crisis, said Jim Homstad, spokesman for the Federal Emergency
Management Agency's (FEMA) Long-Term Recovery Office in Florida.
However, more than 1,500 people continue to live in the low-cost
housing after FEMA extended its deadline in February beyond the federal
requirement of 18 months. Those who remain have been paying rent based
on income and other special needs. Their new deadline to leave the
temporary housing is Sept. 26.
"FEMA housing assistance should not be considered a permanent housing
solution, and it should not be expected to solve local housing
shortages that are in place even before a disaster," Mr. Homstad said.
"As more homes are rebuilt and rental units come back online, more
applicants are finding permanent housing." The emergency
temporary housing provided by FEMA in Florida had been the largest in
the agency's history until Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf
Coast last year. At the peak of the crisis, the agency housed 17,245
Florida was hit with four hurricanes in a 40-day period in August and
September 2004. Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 storm, struck the coast
on Aug. 13, followed by three hurricanes in September -- Francis, a
Category 2 storm; and Ivan and Jeanne, both Category 3 storms.
"The last time one state was hit with four hurricanes in one season was
more than 100 years ago in Texas," Mr. Homstad said. FEMA
officials said they are using lessons they learned in Florida to deal
with housing more than 100,000 who remain homeless one year after
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit.
"We learned that we were capable of accomplishing an extraordinary,
unheard of, at the time, housing mission," Mr. Homstad said. But
he said that helping those left homeless by hurricanes is a job that
requires cooperation from a variety of sources. Communities prone
to hurricanes must address affordable-housing issues before a disaster
strikes. And state and local governments, as well as the private sector
and faith-based organizations, are considered essential to recovery
"No single agency has all the resources to assist in disaster victims'
return to permanent housing. It takes a collaborative and creative
effort to make it happen," Mr. Homstad said.
With No Tax Money, Gulf Coast Locked In
Painful Loop; The storm devastated
the tax base of an entire metropolitan area
By GARY RIVLIN & THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
Published on 10/22/2005
Baton Rouge, La. — In better times, before Hurricane
Katrina washed away its tax base, the St. Bernard School District
employed 1,200 people.
Now, with no money to make its payroll, the district has
fewer than 12
employees, and this weekend, the parish government is expected to lay
off a large share of its firefighters and emergency workers.
Next door in New Orleans, the school district has already
virtually every last employee — more than 7,000 people. The city has
laid off half its work force, and the state university system is
preparing for thousands of layoffs and serious cutbacks in services.
After weeks of coping with the initial shock of the hurricane
trying to help residents with immediate emergencies, local and state
governments around the Gulf Coast are starting to grapple with the
staggering size of their financial peril. The natural has produced what
some are calling the worst municipal finance crisis in the nation's
“We've never seen anything like this, at least not in our
said Roy Bahl, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at
Georgia State University and an expert in public finance.
“You think about the hurricanes that hit Florida last year,”
“They were bad, but they didn't devastate the tax base of an entire
metropolitan area. They didn't devastate the tax base of an entire
region like happened here.”
Without money, governments cannot run buses so that residents
cars can search for jobs. They cannot educate the children of families
that might try to return. They cannot pick up garbage or begin the
detailed planning and engineering necessary to bring a city back to
life. And so they are locked in a painful loop, unable to lure back
residents without services, but unable to provide the services without
a tax base.
That has already become apparent in St. Bernard Parish, the
in the state that was entirely engulfed in the storm. Already officials
there have laid off more than half its work force of 650, including
road crews and others they desperately need for restoration work, and
by this weekend they may need to slash scores more.
“I can't ask people to work another two weeks,” said Larry J.
Ingargiola, the parish director of emergency preparedness, “if I know
there's a good chance I'm not going to be able to pay them. If you call
this weekend and get no answer, you'll know why.”
The two hurricanes cost local municipalities in southern
least $3.3 billion in lost taxes and fees, according to the state
legislative office that audits the books of local governmental bodies.
Local governments are desperately hoping for a bailout from the state
and federal governments, but they have not been pleased by what they
have received so far.
The state has problems of its own, and the federal assistance
so far has strings and payback requirements that many localities
By statute, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will
government entities 75 cents on the dollar for costs associated with
rebuilding and repairs, forcing cities to come up with a 25 percent
contribution they currently cannot afford.
for Bodies Ends in New Orleans
By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 4, 4:28 AM ET
NEW ORLEANS - Officials ended their door-to-door sweep for corpses
finding far fewer bodies than once feared and school children returned
to classes as New Orleans revved up efforts to recover from Hurricane
The search for Katrina victims ended in Louisiana with a death toll at
964, substantially less than the 10,000 victims some officials feared.
A private company hired by the state to remove bodies was on call if
any others were found.
The death toll probably will continue to rise, but authorities have
said sweeps yielded fewer bodies than feared, and that the toll was
likely to be well below the dire projections. Mayor Ray Nagin said soon
after Katrina struck that New Orleans alone could have 10,000 dead.
"There might still be bodies found — for instance, if a house was
locked and nobody able to go into it," said Bob Johannessen, a
spokesman with the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
Mississippi's death toll remained at 221.
There were signs of normalcy in the city Monday — five weeks to the day
since Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. St. Andrew the Apostle
elementary school in the reopened Algiers neighborhood was the first
Roman Catholic school to resume in New Orleans.
"My heart is just bursting," said teacher Jewell McCartney, fighting
back tears as she welcomed her class of sixth-graders. "I just want to
give them all a hug."
Archdiocese officials said their schools also were reopening in areas
outside the city. Some public schools in nearby parishes also opened
Monday, but public schools in New Orleans remain closed. Some may
resume by November.
On Tuesday, former President
Bill Clinton was to travel to Louisiana to meet with hurricane
survivors at a Baton Rouge shelter, get a briefing from officials on
the relief effort and tour New Orleans' largely destroyed Ninth Ward.
Clinton and former President George H.W. Bush are heading up the
Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, which has raised $100 million to assist
victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues pumping water out of the
lower Ninth Ward and efforts to rebuild the levees that breached,
causing water to cascade into the city, remained under way.
However, two canals near the area were closed Monday as a precaution,
because of stronger-than-normal winds and higher tides, spokesman Alan
Dooley said. As of late Monday afternoon, a steady stream of water
leaked through the repaired levees.
Electricity had been restored to about 36 percent of New Orleans
customers and to about 99 percent of the customers in neighboring
Jefferson Parish, said Entergy Corp. spokesman Chanel Lagarde.
And as another sign that the city was coming back to life, nine ships,
including four container vessels, were scheduled to call on the Port of
New Orleans this week, port officials announced
Hurricane Simulation Predicted 61,290
By RON FOURNIER and TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writers
Sep 9, 12:17 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As
Katrina roared into the Gulf of Mexico, emergency planners pored over
maps and charts of a hurricane simulation that projected 61,290 dead
and 384,257 injured or sick in a catastrophic flood that would leave
swaths of southeast Louisiana uninhabitable for more than a year.
These planners were not
involved in the frantic preparations for Katrina. By coincidence, they
were working on a yearlong project to prepare federal and state
officials for a Category 3 hurricane striking New Orleans.
Their fictitious storm
eerily foreshadowed the havoc wrought by Category 4 Katrina a few days
later, raising questions about whether government leaders did
everything possible - as early as possible - to protect New Orleans
residents from a well-documented threat.
After watching many of their
predictions prove grimly accurate, "Hurricane Pam" planners now hope
they were wrong about one detail - the death toll. The 61,290 estimate
is six times what New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin has warned people to
pray to God we don't see those numbers," Michael Brown, director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in an interview with The
Associated Press. "My gut is ... we don't. But we just don't know."
The known Katrina death toll
was less than 400 on Friday, but officials expect it to skyrocket once
emergency teams comb through 90,000 square miles of Gulf Coast debris.
Fears are particularly acute in New Orleans, where countless corpses
lie submerged beneath a toxic gumbo that engulfed the city after levees
The death toll is just one
of the many chilling details in a 412-page report obtained by the AP
from a government official involved in the Hurricane Pam project.
Written in ominous present-tense language, the report predicts that:
-Flood waters would surge
over levees, creating "a catastrophic mass casualty/mass evacuation"
and leaving drainage pumps crippled for up to six months. "It will take
over one year to re-enter areas most heavily impacted," the report
-More than 600,000 houses
and 6,000 businesses would be affected, more than two-thirds of them
destroyed. Nearly a quarter-million children would be out of school.
"All 40 medical facilities in the impacted area (are) isolated and
useless," it says.
-Local officials would be
quickly overwhelmed with the five-digit death toll, 187,862 people
injured and 196,395 falling ill. A half million people would be
The report calls evacuees
"refugees" - a term now derided by the Bush administration - and says
they could be housed at college campuses, military barracks, hotels,
travel trailers, recreational vehicles, private homes, cottages,
churches, Boy Scout camps and cruise ships.
"Federal support must be
provided in a timely manner to save lives, prevent human suffering and
mitigate severe damage," the report says. "This may require mobilizing
and deploying assets before they are requested via normal (National
Response Plan) protocols."
On the defensive, White
House officials have said Louisiana and New Orleans officials did not
give FEMA full control over disaster relief. The so-called Hurricane
Pam plan, which was never put into effect, envisions giving the federal
government authority to act without waiting for an SOS from local
Under FEMA's direction,
federal and state officials began working on the $1 million Hurricane
Pam project in July 2004, when 270 experts gathered in Baton Rouge,
La., for an eight-day simulation. The so-called "tabletop" exercise
focused planners on a mock hurricane that produced more than 20 inches
of rain and 14 tornadoes. The drill included computer graphic
simulations projected on large screens of the hurricane slamming
directly into New Orleans.
"We designed this to be a
worst-case but plausible storm," said Madhu Beriwal, chief executive of
Innovative Emergency Management Inc. of Baton Rouge, hired by FEMA to
conduct the exercise.
The experts completed their first
draft report in December 2004.
A follow-up workshop on
potential medical needs took place in Carville, La., on Aug. 23-24 of
this year, bringing together 80 state and federal emergency planning
officials as well as Beriwal's team.
They produced an update on
dealing with the dead and injured, and submitted it to FEMA's
headquarters in Washington on Sept. 3. By then, Katrina had hit and the
Bush administration, state and city officials were under heavy
criticism for a sluggish response.
The report was designed to
be the first step toward producing a comprehensive hurricane response
plan, jointly approved and implemented by federal, state and city
officials. But a lack of funding prohibited planners from quickly
following up on the 2004 simulation.
"Money was not available to do the
follow-up," Brown said.
Hurricane Pam planning was
prescient in many ways, predicting the flooding would exceed 10 feet
and create a putrid mix of corpses, chemicals and human waste. The
report is remarkably detailed in spots. It includes diagrams for
makeshift loading docks to distribute water, ice and food to storm
victims - color-coded to show where pallets, traffic cones and trash
bins would be placed.
In other places it's obvious that
the report is a working document; it doesn't specify what hospitals or
airports would be used.
The report missed the mark
in some cases. Planning for a weaker but slower-moving storm than
Katrina, the Hurricane Pam report did not predict that levees would
break as happened in real life. However, state and federal official
have long known that the levees were not built to withstand a Category
4 storm or higher.
Hurricane Pam slammed into New
Orleans. Katrina's eye hit to the east.
The report did not mention
looting and lawlessness, which was rampant in the immediate aftermath
of Katrina. It did call for at least one security guard at each
shelter. In another
burst of foresight, the planners sought creative ways to house
evacuees. Among other ideas, they instructed Louisiana parishes to find
large vacant lots that could house makeshift trailer parks at a
New Orleans flooding
caused by soil failure in two main levees
10/7/2005, 2:22 p.m. CT
By BRETT MARTEL
The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Engineers said Friday the flooding in New Orleans'
upscale Lakeview neighborhood was caused by failure of levee
embankments — not by water topping two of the main floodwalls.
The question of what caused the flooding at the 17th Street Canal and
the London Avenue Canal has been debated in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina — was it storm surge or levee failure? Katrina made landfall on
Aug. 29 and the massive flooding in the Lakeview and Mid City
neighborhoods followed on the next day when waters from Lake
Pontchartrain backed into canals and blew through openings in the
The American Society of Civil Engineers said Friday that an independent
inspection this week showed the levees gave way.
"We found no evidence of overtopping the levees," the statement said.
"There is, however, evidence that a section of the levee embankment
that supported the floodwall moved approximately 35 feet laterally."
The engineers said inspectors also found evidence of the dirt levee
moving at the London Avenue breach.
"The evidence also indicates that stormwater did not exceed the height
of the levees," the statement said.
The engineers said they saw some levees that had been damaged by the
hurricane and were simply overwhelmed. However, many miles of levees
worked as they should, even though the water got over their tops.
The engineers said there was no evidence the levees were built
The engineers' statement matched the findings of LSU hurricane
specialists, who reported in the weeks after Katrina that there was no
evidence that water overtopped the London Avenue or 17th Street canal
levees, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had initially said.
Ivor Van Heerden, an LSU hurricane specialist, has said overtopping of
the levees would have left debris on the top of those floodwalls. He
and other LSU scientists found no such debris, van Heerden said.
The engineers said a comprehensive report will be issued in about a
About 10 percent of the New Orleans-area levee system was damaged. The
city is bowl-shaped, and getting the water pumped out of the city took
The levees that broke were built to withstand Category 3 hurricanes,
which have winds up to 130 mph. Hurricane Katrina's winds were about
145 mph — a Category 4 — when the storm hit Louisiana.
Katrina fuels global warming storm
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
12 minutes ago
(Reuters) - Hurricane Katrina has spurred debate about
global warming worldwide with some environmentalists sniping at President George W. Bush
for pulling out of the main U.N. plan
for braking climate change.
Experts agree it is impossible to say any one storm is
caused by rising temperatures. Numbers of tropical cyclones
like hurricanes worldwide are stable at about 90 a year
although recent U.S. research shows they may be becoming more
and even Sweden's king
said the disaster, feared to have killed thousands of people in
the United States, could be a portent of worse to come.
"As climate change is happening, we know that the frequency
of these disasters will increase as well as the scope,"
European Commission spokeswoman Barbara Helfferich said.
"If we let climate change continue like it is continuing,
we will have to deal with disasters like that," she said. She
said it was wrong to say Katrina was caused by global warming
widely blamed on emissions from cars, power plants and
factories. Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf told reporters he was deeply
shaken by the damage and suffering of millions of people.
"It is quite clear that the world's climate is changing and
we should take note," he said. "The hurricane catastrophe in
the United States should be a wake-up call for all of us." Climate
change policies sharply divide Bush from most of
his allies which have signed up for caps on emissions of
greenhouse gases under the U.N.'s Kyoto protocol. Bush pulled
out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it was too expensive and wrongly
excluded developing nations from a first round of caps to 2012...
SEA LEVEL RISE
U.N. studies say a build-up of greenhouse gases is likely
to cause more storms, floods and desertification and could
raise sea levels by up to a meter by 2100.
Sea level rise could expose coasts vulnerable to storms
because levees would be swamped more easily. Some scientists
dispute the forecasts and the United States is investing more
heavily than any other nation on climate research.
In Australia, the opposition Greens party said Katrina was
aggravated by global warming and criticized Bush for pulling
out of Kyoto. The United States, the world's biggest polluter,
and Australia are the only rich nations outside Kyoto.
"It demonstrates the massive economic, as well as
environmental and social penalties, of George Bush's
Greens leader Bob Brown told Reuters. He did not believe Bush
would shift to embrace Kyoto-style caps on emissions. Concerns were
also voiced in Germany.
"The U.S. must be more involved," Gerda Hasselfeldt, a
leading German candidate to become environment minister if the
conservative opposition wins the September 18 election, told
n-tv television. In the United States, the focus has been far more on
tackling the human disaster than on links to climate change.
"People are still reeling from the tragedy," said Katie
Mandes, a director at the Washington-based Pew Center, a
climate change think-tank. "Politically it's too early to tell
what it will mean for Americans' views." Ian Johnson, the World Bank's
top environmental official,
said Katrina could also be a wake-up call for developing
nations, many of which are vulnerable.
An opinion survey published this week showed that 79
percent of Americans feel global warming poses an "important"
or "very important" threat to their country in the next 10
years. Worries among Europeans were even higher. Taken before Katrina
in June, the Transatlantic Trends
survey showed that Americans felt more threatened than
Europeans by terrorism, Islamic extremism, weapons of mass
destruction and economic downturn.
Some individual climatic disasters in the past have changed
perceptions about climate change. Steve Sawyer, climate change
director at Greenpeace, said that ice storms in Canada in the
late 1990s had dramatically raised public concerns. Greenpeace called
Katrina a "wake-up call about the dangers
of continued global fossil fuel dependency."
Recent research by Kerry Emanuel, a leading U.S. hurricane
researcher, shows the intensity of hurricanes -- the wind
speeds and the duration -- seems to have risen by about 70
percent in the past 30 years.
"Globally a new signal may be emerging in rising
intensity," said Tom Knutson, a research meteorologist at the
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Higher
water temperatures in future may lead to more storms.
Hurricanes need temperatures of about 26.5 C (80F) to form.
(Additional reporting by Michael Perry in Sydney, Elaine
Lies in Tokyo, Jeff Mason and Paul Taylor in Brussels, Iain
Rogers in Berlin, Timothy Gardner in New York)
but strayed from strategy
By LISE OLSEN
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Sept. 8, 2005, 10:15AM
Cancer patient Earl Robicheaux, his immune system depleted by
radical chemotherapy, lay in a hospital bed as Hurricane Katrina bore
down on New Orleans. Trying to leave, he thought,
But after four days in the hospital's reeking darkness, he
escaped via a Black Hawk helicopter that landed on the roof of the
University Hospital under heavy guard because of the threat of sniper
It was not the evacuation plan authorities had envisioned for
its sick, its elderly and its poor. As the floodwaters recede, serious
questions remain about whether New Orleans and Louisiana officials
followed their own plans for evacuating people with no other way out.
The mayor's mandatory evacuation order was issued 20 hours
before the storm struck the Louisiana coast, less than half the time
researchers determined would be needed to get everyone out.
City officials had 550 municipal buses and hundreds of
additional school buses at their disposal but made no plans to use them
to get people out of New Orleans before the storm, said Chester Wilmot,
a civil engineering professor at Louisiana State University and an
expert in transportation planning, who helped the city put together its
Instead, local buses were used to ferry people from 12 pickup
points to poorly supplied "shelters of last resort" in the city. An
estimated 50,000 New Orleans households have no access to cars, Wilmot
State and local plans both called for extra help to be
provided in advance to residents with "special needs," though no
specific timetable was prepared. But phone lines for people who needed
specialized shelters opened at noon Saturday — barely 30 hours before
Katrina came ashore in Louisiana.
Many people from New Orleans ended up staying home or using a
"last resort" special needs shelter state authorities and the city
health department set up at the Superdome. Those who made it out of
town initially found limited space. The state of Louisiana provided
shelter in Baton Rouge and five other cities for a total of about 1,000.
In the city of New Orleans alone, more than 100,000 of the
city's residents described themselves as disabled in a recent U.S.
Hospitals were exempted from the mayor's mandatory evacuation
order. But at least two public hospitals, loaded with more than 1,000
caregivers and patients, had their generators in their basements, which
made them vulnerable in a flood. That violated the state's hurricane
plan but had gone uncorrected for years because the hospitals did not
have the money to fix the situation, a state university hospital
official told the Chronicle.
The consequences came to bear in the images hours and days
later: Elderly people dying outside shelters and hospitals that were
losing power and, finally, their patients. Now, hurricane evacuation
experts around the country are asking why New Orleans failed to prepare
for the flood scenario from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane.
"Everybody knew about it. There's no excuse for not having a
plan," said Jay Baker, a Florida State University associate professor
who is an expert in hurricane evacuations and is familiar with New
Orleans hurricane studies.
Tami Frazier, a spokeswoman for Mayor C. Ray Nagin, currently
working out of Houston, refused to comment on direct questions this
week or to answer several written questions sent via e-mail. She cited
the need to focus on rescuing citizens and recovering bodies.
Robicheaux, the cancer patient who was trapped in a downtown
New Orleans hospital, said he thought the city "decided basically to
let it ride."
"When you're in a city like New York and there's a big
snowstorm, you expect them to have plows. That's not the way it is
here. There are no resources to stockpile supplies."
Saturday evening, Hurricane Katrina had intensified to
Category 4, with the possibility that it could strike land as a killer
Category 5 storm. About 8 p.m., Mayor Nagin fielded an unusual personal
call at home from Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane
Center, who wanted to be sure Nagin knew what was coming.
Still, Nagin waited to issue a mandatory evacuation,
apparently because of legal complications, said Frazier. She said the
city attorney was unavailable for an interview to explain. But Kris
Wartelle, spokeswoman for the attorney general of Louisiana, said state
law clearly gives the mayor the authority to "direct and compel the
evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or
"They're not confused about it. He had the authority to do
it," Wartelle said. The mandatory evacuation order came at 10 a.m
Former Kemah Mayor Bill King, who has spent years trying to
boost funding and organization for hurricanes planning in the
Houston-Galveston area, said Nagin's decision to wait to order people
out compounded the tragedy.
"To call an evacuation on Sunday morning when the storm was
going to hit on Monday morning at 6 a.m. is just ... negligence," King
said. "If he'd called it better than that he would have saved lives."
The Chronicle reviewed Louisiana's Emergency Operations Plan,
adopted in 2000. It calls for the establishment of specialized shelters
for people with special medical needs. It also recommends that cities
use public transportation to evacuate residents if necessary.
The city of New Orleans Comprehensive Emergency Management
Plan suggested people develop their own way to get out. "The potential
exists that New Orleans could be without sufficient supplies to meet
the needs of persons with special considerations, and there is
significant risk being taken by those individuals who decide to remain
in these refuges of last resort," it says.
People who called for information on special needs shelters
Saturday were directed to sites in Alexandria and in Monroe, La. —
cities 218 and 326 miles away. The state scrambled to find 20
ambulances and some specialized vans to pick up fragile residents who
"There were transportation systems in place to take people
out of New Orleans, which was the preferred solution," said Kristen
Meyer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Hospitals. But
she's not sure how many got out.
Some, including Lower 9th Ward resident Lois Rice, a
paraplegic, became trapped in their homes when the floodwaters rose.
She was rescued after using her air mattress to float into her attic.
Florida, by contrast, for two decades has required counties
to establish and maintain permanent databases of "special needs
citizens," and arrange rides for people with no transportation. The
state also has shelters established for myriad medical conditions.
Florida emergency officials agree that last-minute planning
simply doesn't work.
"Unless you planned in advance, it would be a catastrophe,"
said Guy Daines, a retired Florida emergency manager who is considered
an expert in specialized evacuations.
In New Orleans, many people with special medical needs ended
up at the last resort shelter in the Superdome.
New Orleans' own special needs evacuation plan, however, says
that shelter is "NOT TO BE INTERPRETED AS A GUARANTEE OF SAFETY, and
the City of New Orleans is not assuring anyone protection from harm
within the facilities that are being offered or opened for this
"When I saw them loading special needs people into the
Superdome the day before the storm, my heart was breaking," said Patti
Moss, a Texas nursing professor who has developed a tracking system for
such vulnerable citizens here. "They were in the path of the storm."
Two of the city's hospitals dedicated to serving the city's
poor, University and Charity hospitals, quickly lost power, according
to Leslie Capo, a spokesman for the Louisiana State University health
After days in the dark, it took the National Guard, the U.S.
Army and a Black Hawk to rescue Robicheaux.
"We had been kind of left on our own and I thought, 'This is
a fine thank you,' " he said.
Planning for the poor
In storm-vulnerable Jefferson Parish and New Orleans, the
American Red Cross worked before the storm to promote a "buddy system"
to encourage everyone without cars to find rides through churches and
But in an interview published July 18 in New Orleans City
Business, Jefferson Parish hurricane planner Walter Maestri insisted
New Orleans needed to do much more for those who didn't have cars.
"New Orleans has a significantly larger population without
means of transportation, so it's a much bigger problem for the city.
... The answer is very simple — evacuation," he said.
As Hurricane Katrina approached Sunday morning, New Orleans
officials advertised city buses would be used to pick people up at 12
sites to go to the "last resort" shelters.
It's unclear how many buses were used. Planners decided not
to use any of the New Orleans school buses for early evacuation, Wilmot
Photographers recorded images of them lined up in neat rows
and submerged — though one was commandeered by Jabbar Gibson, 20, who
ferried 70 passengers to safety in the Reliant Astrodome.
N.O. residents told to leave because of risk of fire, disease
By Bruce Nolan, Staff writer
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Mayor Ray Nagin on Tuesday ordered all remaining New Orleans residents
out of the city to escape sporadic fires and the growing threat of
disease from standing water contaminated by toxic chemicals and rotting
corpses. Meanwhile, an Army Corps of Engineers official said it
could take 80
days to pump out the billions of gallons of water that Hurricane
Katrina poured into the New Orleans area Aug. 29.
Low-lying Chalmette might be the last to emerge, while eastern New
Orleans will take about 24 days to dry out, said the Corps' Dan
Kitchens at the Louisiana emergency operations center in Baton
Rouge. The water level in most parts of Orleans Parish has
receded 6 inches to
a foot, Nagin said after a helicopter fly-over Tuesday morning. That
means that some submerged areas, such as the lakefront campus of the
University of New Orleans, have drained substantially, he said.
The Corps said two of the city's 148 drainage pumps were online,
supplemented by dozens of smaller pumps brought into the city.
Hanging in there
Nagin's evacuation order apparently could sweep several hundred hardy
residents out of the French Quarter. Although nearly empty, the
Quarter remained high and dry - and home to
pockets of insouciant die-hards who have supported each other in a
defiant celebration of the city's determined, carefree spirit.
But in a short meeting with reporters on the steps of City Hall, Nagin
said the city is increasingly unsafe, its crumpled public safety
systems unable to protect its residents.
Another major fire broke out Tuesday, gutting a mansion in the Lower
Garden District. Authorities fought it the only way possible:
Helicopters ferried huge buckets of water overhead and doused it from
More than fire threatened the city, however. Foul water presented a
Mike McDaniel, the state secretary of environmental quality, told CNN
floodwaters had swirled through wrecked sewerage plants and were fouled
by natural gas and petrochemical leaks all over south Louisiana.
He said crews found an oil spill of 68,000 barrels at a Bass Enterprise
storage depot in Venice, and another of 10,000 barrels from the Murphy
Oil facility in Chalmette.
"Everywhere we look there's a spill. It all adds up," he said. "There's
almost a solid sheen over the area right now." Besides the
petrochemicals and human waste, officials said, the water
was surely polluted by a variety of other pollutants, including
pesticides and a catalogue of industrial solvents. And there was
another dreadful component: the bodies of uncounted dead
humans and animals that rescuers have seen in a week of frantic
life-saving efforts, but pushed aside to do higher priority work.
Officials said they did not know whether ejecting billions of gallons
of foul pollutants would trigger a massive environmental disaster in
the state's wetlands.
City Council may meet
Against that deteriorating backdrop, New Orleans City Council President
Oliver Thomas said he hoped to call the first post-Katrina council
meeting, perhaps Thursday at Louis Armstrong International
Airport. And as the water levels began to fall, utility crews
continued repairs to the area's damaged electrical grid.
Stores and gas stations in Covington and other parts of St. Tammany
opened one by one, either powered by generators or as repairs reached
Parts of the Central Business District and the Warehouse District had
power Tuesday, said Dan Packer, president and chief executive officer
of Entergy New Orleans.
He said he hoped to have the entire CBD up in a few days. Authorities
worked to get hotels up and running to house hundreds of workers who
will be faced with the daunting task of helping rebuild the city.
Algiers could have power by Thursday, Packer said.
Bell South said it had restored telephone service to about half of 1.7
million customers knocked out by Katrina, but that it will be most of
the month - longer in New Orleans - before service is fully restored to
Joe Chandler, a BellSouth spokesman, said he was "not going to
guess." "It depends on when the flood waters leave and crews can
get back in." Work crews will begin repairing the Interstate 10
bridges between New
Orleans and Slidell as soon as next week, said Gordon Nelson, assistant
secretary of operations for the state Department of Transportation and
Eastbound lanes of the twin spans might be open for two-way traffic in
four to six weeks, he said.
Educators struggled to restore their systems as well.
The state Department of Education said public schools in St. Bernard
Parish, which was completely flooded, will be closed for the remainder
of the year. The same is feared for most of New Orleans. In St.
Tammany, educators were hoping to open for classes Oct. 3, said
Superintendent Gayle Sloan.
Six of nine schools in Plaquemines Parish may open this year.
Jefferson Parish officials were still checking their 84 schools
Tuesday. Twenty-four were determined to be useable or had sustained
"isolated" damage, the system said. Six were badly damaged ,and 54
remained to be checked.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans said it hoped to have its schools open
by January, using existing schools and temporary or satellite campuses
out of the city, the Rev. William Maestri said.
Bush to seek aid package
In Washington, President Bush said he intends to seek $40 billion for
the next phase of hurricane relief, not only for New Orleans, but also
for the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coasts, where Katrina demolished
cities including Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula. Senate Minority
Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the total bill may surpass $150 billion.
Bush resisted demands for an inquiry into what went wrong in federal
relief in first few days after Katrina hit. He said it was more
important to focus on human rescue for now.
"I think one of the things people want us to do is play the blame
game," he said. He said it is important to understand what went
wrong to improve
federal, state and local coordination in the event of a terrorist
attack. Bush said Vice President Dick Cheney would visit the
Thursday to assess relief efforts and cut any red tape keeping rescuers
With the worst of last week's horrifying days of despair and looting
apparently behind New Orleans' police officers, officials began
withdrawing them from the city for rest. Many are psychologically
traumatized by stress and exhaustion, Police Superintendent Eddie
Compass said. Many will be sent to Atlanta and Las Vegas for city-paid
"rest and relaxation."
Staff writers Paul Bartels, Jeff Duncan, Gwen Filosa and Jan Moller and
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
city's flavor is not a given
By TONY FREEMANTLE
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
Sept. 4, 2005, 1:38AM
It is drowned in a filthy flood. Vibrant neighborhoods, the
incubators of its soul, are lost. Its economy, largely dependent on
tourists seduced by its quirky, decadent charm, is in ruins. It has
been abandoned by its people, tens of thousands of whom may never
Can New Orleans, one of only a handful of unique American
cities, survive? Could any major city, anywhere, survive such a
Galveston did after the 1900 hurricane swept it away, even
though it never fully recovered. Chicago underwent an architectural
renaissance after the Great Fire of 1871. San Francisco came back from
the 1906 earthquake and fire that virtually leveled it.
Experts who have studied those and other urban disasters said
that New Orleans, too, probably will rise again from its sodden ruins.
But it will be a different New Orleans, one that may not be
recognizable to those who know it best.
New Orleans, to a degree matched by few other American
cities, is about much more than bricks, mortar and materialism. What
sets it apart is its indomitable spirit, its cultural gumbo, its
intangibles that emanate in significant measure from its poorest
neighborhoods. Many of these communities, their music halls, their
barbershops, their mom-and-pop Creole restaurants, could be
Fats Domino's house and his entire neighborhood are gone. A
park in the historic Treme neighborhood named for Louis Armstrong is
flooded. The Lower 9th Ward, home of the trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, is
So, too, is Bywater, and the 7th Ward, and other
neighborhoods that were home to countless jazz and blues greats, the
Mardi Gras Indians and some of the world's best and oldest Po' Boy
If the new New Orleans is to resemble the old New Orleans,
these communities will have to be rebuilt in their own image. Above
all, the ingredients that made them what they were must be included in
the recipes of their future.
"The spirit of New Orleans is all about the people," said
Jacob Wagner, a professor of urban planning at the University of
Missouri at Kansas City who studied the relationship between memory and
place in New Orleans. "If the people come back and rebuild, the spirit
will survive. If they don't, fragmentation of local culture could
occur. Maintaining the local character of the city must be part of the
discussion about how to rebuild."
Poor most vulnerable
A sad but almost universal truth about major urban disasters,
experts said, is that the poorest communities are almost always the
most vulnerable. If their neighborhoods are destroyed, too often they
are rebuilt with more affluent tenants in mind. The poor get displaced
and often go elsewhere.
Others might decide that rebuilding their lives on the delta
of one of the world's great rivers, in a city that must try to tame it
to survive, is not worth the risk.
When New Orleans comes back, a sizable portion of its
residents will not.
"It's never going to be the same city," said Mary Comerio, an
architecture professor at the University of California at Berkeley who
has conducted extensive research into how urban areas recover from
disasters. "It will be a functioning city. But you are going to lose a
segment of your population, and this means New Orleans will be a
The French Quarter, the literal and figurative heart of the
city, appears to have escaped the full impact of the flooding but not
Its survival is vital to New Orleans' future because it is
the principal reason tourists and convention planners flock to the city.
"The French Quarter has to survive, the conventions have to
come back," said Chuck Taggart, a New Orleans native who lives in Los
Angeles, where, among other things, he hosts a Cajun music show on
public radio and runs a Web site devoted to Louisiana cuisine. "If it
does, then the ultimate survival of the city and its culture will
depend on the drive and commitment of its people to put it back
Few cities struggling to recover from major catastrophe ever
are exactly the same as they were before.
Galveston was poised to become a major Texas city until the
great hurricane wiped it out. And reconstruction takes time and a huge
amount of money, Comerio said.
Based on the experiences of other cities in such crises —
Kobe, Japan, after the devastating earthquake in 1995, or San Francisco
and the Oakland area after the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 — Comerio
predicts that New Orleans' recovery could take 10 years and cost as
much as $50 billion.
It is still way too early to tell just how many structures in
New Orleans will have to be rebuilt after the waters recede. But with
hundreds, maybe thousands, of houses flooded to their roofs, many will
have to rebuilt from the ground up.
Comerio and other experts warned against seeing this as an
opportunity for "urban renewal."
Redevelopment must take into account the geographic factors
that contributed to the disaster in the first place. It also must cater
to the poor.
"The big issue is to be very careful in the process of
rebuilding and build with nature in mind," said Susan Cutter, a
professor of geography at the University of South Carolina and a
recognized expert in hazard and risk management. "What would have
happened if all those houses had been elevated? They also have to
include affordable public housing in their plans and keep in mind the
racial and ethnic diversity of the city."
Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' economy was only
slightly less stagnant than the water that has covered the city.
Tourism and conventions are a vital component of its economy, but so
too are oil and gas production and the port, one of the busiest in the
nation and a hub for the movement of a host of commodities.
Much of that commerce will return. But it is safe to say that
many smaller businesses will not survive, and some will consider
leaving the city.
Jon Seals, editor of Disaster Recovery Journal, a St.
Louis-based magazine, said it is widely considered a rule of thumb that
only two of five businesses survive a disaster of the magnitude that
engulfed New Orleans.
Ironically, a mere three days before the city fell to
Hurricane Katrina, Mayor C. Ray Nagin declared real estate was "hot" in
the city after Donald Trump signed on to build a 70-story building on a
downtown parking lot, the first high-rise in the city in more than 25
The deal was hailed as a sign that the city's sluggish real
estate market was showing signs of life.
It is not yet known whether Trump intends to move forward
with the deal, but it is highly possible that the flood could stop the
real-estate boom in its tracks.
"Outsiders are going to have second thoughts about investing
in the city," said John Maginnis, a longtime Louisiana political
commentator, journalist and author.
Ultimately, while New Orleans will have to rely heavily on
"outsiders" — the federal government, private donations, investors — to
come back from the brink of extinction, it will be the spirit of the
people who love the city and will never leave that will determine
whether it is the New Orleans of old.
As Jack Fines, a 78-year-old trumpet player and leader of the
Palmetto Bug Stompers, said in a television interview last week as he
sat in his house with a bottle of gin and watched the waters rise:
"Anything's possible in New Orleans. Anything."
Saturday is the day for St.
Louis to receive the crest. Upriver, Gulfport, Illinois
intersection, center; U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers suit to begin, at right.
Was Supposed to Be Competent: The spill is a disaster for the
president and his political philosophy.
By PEGGY NOONAN, The Wall Street
MAY 29, 2010
I don't see how the president's position and popularity can survive the
oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months
in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning
they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.
There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal
and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and
hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now
the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an
environmental calamity. I don't see how you politically survive this.
The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests
he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of
his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure,
and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008.
But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync
with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A,
B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality,
he's in another.
The American people have spent at least two years worrying that high
government spending would, in the end, undo the republic. They saw the
dollars gushing night and day, and worried that while everything looked
the same on the surface, our position was eroding. They have worried
about a border that is in some places functionally and of course
illegally open, that it too is gushing night and day with problems that
states, cities and towns there cannot solve.
And now we have a videotape metaphor for all the public's fears: that
clip we see every day, on every news show, of the well gushing black
oil into the Gulf of Mexico and toward our shore. You actually don't
get deadlier as a metaphor for the moment than that, the monster that
lives deep beneath the sea.
In his news conference Thursday, President Obama made his position no
better. He attempted to act out passionate engagement through the use
of heightened language—"catastrophe," etc.—but repeatedly took refuge
in factual minutiae. His staff probably thought this demonstrated his
command of even the most obscure facts. Instead it made him seem like
someone who won't see the big picture. The unspoken mantra in his head
must have been, "I will not be defensive, I will not give them a
resentful soundbite." But his strategic problem was that he'd already
lost the battle. If the well was plugged tomorrow, the damage will
already have been done.
The original sin in my view is that as soon as the oil rig accident
happened the president tried to maintain distance between the gusher
and his presidency. He wanted people to associate the disaster with BP
and not him. When your most creative thoughts in the middle of a
disaster revolve around protecting your position, you are summoning
trouble. When you try to dodge ownership of a problem, when you try to
hide from responsibility, life will give you ownership and
responsibility the hard way. In any case, the strategy was always a
little mad. Americans would never think an international petroleum
company based in London would worry as much about American shores and
wildlife as, say, Americans would. They were never going to blame only
BP, or trust it.
I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for
him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is
appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly,
significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of
need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is
always boiled down to a promise: "Trust us here in Washington, we will
prove worthy of your trust." Then the oil spill came and government
could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and
incapable: "We pay so much for the government and it can't cap an
undersea oil well!"
This is what happened with Katrina, and Katrina did at least two big
things politically. The first was draw together everything people
didn't like about the Bush administration, everything it didn't like
about two wars and high spending and illegal immigration, and brought
those strands into a heavy knot that just sat there, soggily, and came
to symbolize Bushism. The second was illustrate that even though the
federal government in our time has continually taken on new missions
and responsibilities, the more it took on, the less it seemed capable
of performing even its most essential jobs. Conservatives got this
point—they know it without being told—but liberals and progressives did
not. They thought Katrina was the result only of George W. Bush's
incompetence and conservatives' failure to "believe in government." But
Mr. Obama was supposed to be competent.
Remarkable too is the way both BP and the government, 40 days in,
continue to act shocked, shocked that an accident like this could have
happened. If you're drilling for oil in the deep sea, of course
something terrible can happen, so you have a plan on what to do when it
How could there not have been a plan? How could it all be so ad hoc, so
inadequate, so embarrassing? We're plugging it now with tires, mud and
What continues to fascinate me is Mr. Obama's standing with Democrats.
They don't love him. Half the party voted for Hillary Clinton, and her
people have never fully reconciled themselves to him. But he is what
they have. They are invested in him. In time—after the 2010 elections
go badly—they are going to start to peel off. The political operative
James Carville, the most vocal and influential of the president's Gulf
critics, signaled to Democrats this week that they can start to peel
off. He did it through the passion of his denunciations.
The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the
president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It's
not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and
lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term. That
it is his fault is no comfort. It is not good for the stability of the
world, or its safety, that the leader of "the indispensable nation" be
so weakened. I never until the past 10 years understood the almost
moral imperative that an American president maintain a high standing in
the eyes of his countrymen.
Mr. Obama himself, when running for president, made much of Bush
administration distraction and detachment during Katrina. Now the
Republican Party will, understandably, go to town on Mr. Obama's having
gone only once to the gulf, and the fund-raiser in San Francisco that
seemed to take precedence, and the EPA chief who decided to skip a New
York fund-raiser only after the press reported that she planned to
But Republicans should beware, and even mute their mischief. We're in
the middle of an actual disaster. When they win back the presidency,
they'll probably get the big California earthquake. And they'll
probably blow it. Because, ironically enough, of a hard core of truth
within their own philosophy: when you ask a government far away in
Washington to handle everything, it will handle nothing well.
(Correction: The EPA chief skipped
the New York fund-raiser. An earlier version of this column said that
she had attended it.)
Obama: New Orleans will be better than
October 15, 2009
NEW ORLEANS – President Barack Obama promised New Orleans residents
Thursday that his administration would never forget the city that was
devastated by a hurricane and floods four years ago.
During a town hall at the University of New Orleans, Obama noted that
sewers and roads damaged by Hurricane Katrina still need to be
repaired. Houses and hospitals are still vacant, he said. And schools
and neighborhoods are waiting to thrive again.
"I promise you this," Obama said during his first visit to the city as
president, "together we will rebuild this region and we will build it
stronger than before."
He announced a new working group to coordinate restoration projects
across the Gulf Coast.
Obama has accused the Bush administration of standing by "while a major
American city drowns." He said Katrina was not just a natural disaster,
but also a failure of government.
The president touted the progress made in the city since he became
president: Reconstruction projects have moved forward that had stalled
due to disagreements over whether the state or federal government would
foot the bill. And his administration has sent more than $1.4 billion
in additional federal aid toward repairing and rebuilding Louisiana.
Obama answered questions about rebuilding the city after visiting a
school that he said was doing much better than four years ago.
Destroying Levees in a State Usually
Clamoring for Them
By CORNELIA DEAN
June 20, 2009
In the 1960s, a group of businessmen bought 16,000 acres of swampy
bottomland along the Ouachita River in northern Louisiana and built
miles of levee around it. They bulldozed its oak and cypress trees and,
when the land dried out, turned it into a soybean farm.
Now two brothers who grew up nearby are undoing all that work. In what
experts are calling the biggest levee-busting operation ever in North
America, the brothers plan to return the muddy river to its ancient
floodplain, coaxing back plants and animals that flourished there when
President Thomas Jefferson first had the land surveyed in 1804.
“I really did not know if I would ever see it,” said Kelby Ouchley, who
retired last year as manager of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife
Refuge, which owns the land. He pursues the project as a volunteer
consultant in coordination with his brother Keith, who heads Louisiana
operations for the Nature Conservancy, which helped organize and
finance the levee-busting effort.
The idea goes against the grain in Louisiana, where people have battled
river flooding since colonial days. European settlers were often
required to build levees to establish homesteading claims; in recent
decades, landowners built levees to create farmland by the hundreds of
thousands of acres. Hurricane Katrina brought a clamor for more and
stronger levees to protect people and buildings farther south.
Yet at the same time, there is a growing awareness that Louisiana’s
levees have exacted a huge environmental cost. Inland, cypress forests
and wetlands crucial for migrating waterfowl have vanished; in southern
Louisiana, coastal marshes deprived of regular infusions of
sediment-rich river water have yielded by the mile to an encroaching
Gulf of Mexico. Some scientists have suggested opening levees south of
New Orleans so the Mississippi River can flow normally into the swamps.
The parcel that the Ouchley brothers plan to restore, known as Mollicy
Farms, was added in the 1990s to the federal Fish and Wildlife
Service’s Upper Ouachita (pronounced WASH-it-tah) holdings in a series
of purchases assisted by the Nature Conservancy and totaling $6.6
million. The brothers and their organizations have since worked on
several environmental projects there, including a 10,000-acre
tree-planting operation, Kelby Ouchley said.
The workers replanted cypress and tupelo in low areas, then oaks and
green ash, and then sweetgum and pecans — “life-sustaining,
system-supporting diversity,” as Kelby Ouchley called it in an essay.
Eventually, he predicted, the restored landscape would be home to black
bear cubs, largemouth bass, fireflies, crawfish and “gobbling wild
turkeys and cottonmouths with attitudes.”
Still, the brothers felt dissatisfied. A few years ago, Keith Ouchley
said, “I was standing on the giant levees with my brother and I said,
‘Well, there is one thing missing here. The big challenge is restoring
this floodplain.’ ”
Environmental scientists say the very notion of undoing levee
construction may be the most important aspect of the Ouachita project.
“The idea that we can take levees down — that’s a good thing,” said
Denise J. Reed, a coastal scientist at the University of New Orleans.
Dr. Reed is also among those advocating levee-opening on the
Mississippi south of New Orleans, a proposal that she says is under
review by state officials. The more rivers like the Ouachita are again
permitted to flood, she said, “the more they function like rivers and
the more we get what we need out of them in terms of habitat.”
The Nature Conservancy has already taken part in levee-busting projects
on Klamath Lake in Oregon and the Emiquon Preserve on the Illinois
River in Illinois to help restore wetlands. But the Ouachita project is
far larger, people involved say, both in its size — roughly 25 square
miles — and the effort required to remove each levee, roughly 30 feet
high and 120 feet wide at the base.
The plan, designed by hydrology experts whose work was financed in part
by $250,000 from the Nature Conservancy, was originally to use
bulldozers to chew away at the levees in five places and then wait for
spring floods to level them gradually, said George Chandler, the
project leader for Fish and Wildlife Service projects in North
The effort was to have begun last fall, he said, but heavy rains forced
a delay until May, when unusual rains delayed it again. On May 23, the
swollen Ouachita seized the initiative, breaking the levee and flooding
the Mollicy acreage.
At first, Mr. Chandler said, people involved in the project feared that
the flood would smother the newly planted trees with sediment from the
river and dirt from the levee itself. But they emerged unscathed.
The plan now, he said, is to start bulldozing in late July or early
“We expect that next fall or winter whenever the river comes back up we
will have normal flows of water that will return to these bottomlands
out there,” Mr. Chandler said. “It will rise and fall with the rhythm
of the river.”
The work is expected to cost more than $4 million.
Cristina Mestre, a spokesman for the conservancy, said her organization
would monitor the site for four years. The conservancy hoped its work
there would serve as a model for other restoration projects, Ms. Mestre
Project planners worry that the project could have unintended effects.
For example, Kelby Ouchley said, it is theoretically possible that
opening the levees could alter water flow enough to force the river
into a new course. On the other hand, Keith Ouchley says, planners hope
the project will reduce flood threats downstream “by providing more
storage capacity in the river’s flood plain, like it normally would
Mr. Chandler said recent events suggested that this hope was well
founded. After the levee was breached in May, a flood threat to the
downstream city of Monroe subsided.
In any event, Kelby Ouchley said: “If we make mistakes, other people
will learn from them. It’s recognized here as a win-win thing.”
Judge: Army Corp to blame for Katrina floods
November 19, 2009
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Army Corps
of Engineers are savoring the taste of victory after a federal judge
ruled that the corps caused the flooding of St. Bernard Parish and New
Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.
Late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval sided with six
residents and one business who argued the Army Corps' shoddy oversight
of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet led to catastrophic flooding after
Tanya Smith, one of the plaintiffs, says the case was not so much about
compensation but making the corps accountable. She says Katrina's
devastation "could possibly have been avoided if something had been
done" by the corps to fix the MRGO, a shipping channel dug in the 1960s
as a shortcut from the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. The channel has
since been closed.
Against Army Corps Over Katrina
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
April 21, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — A groundbreaking civil suit begins in federal court here
today to consider claims by property owners that the Army Corps of
Engineers amplified the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina by
building a poorly designed navigation channel adjacent to the city.
The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a 76-mile-long channel known locally
as MR-GO and pronounced “Mister Go,” was completed in 1968 and created
a straight shot to the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans. The suit claims
that the channel was flawed in its design, construction, and operation,
and that those flaws intensified the flood damage to the eastern parts
of New Orleans and St. Bernard parish. If they win, the
plaintiffs — a local newscaster, Norman Robinson, and five other people
whose homes or businesses were destroyed by the 2005 storm — could pave
the way for more than 400,000 other plaintiffs who have also filed
claims against the government over Katrina’s destruction.
The government has historically enjoyed strong legal protection against
lawsuits related to collapsing levees. The Flood Control Act of 1928
bars suits against the United States for damages resulting from floods
or flood waters, and in January 2008 Federal District Judge Stanwood R.
Duval Jr. ruled that the corps was immune in a different lawsuit
related directly to the levee and floodwall failures during Katrina in
the city’s major drainage canals.
This case, however, is different, because MR-GO is a navigation canal,
not a flood control project. In March, Judge Duval allowed the suit to
go forward, over repeated attempts by the Department of Justice to get
him to dismiss it, based largely on a a 1971 case, Graci v. United
States, that found there is no immunity for flooding caused by a
federal project unrelated to flood control. The Graci decision
did warn that the lack of immunity still left a “heavy burden” on
plaintiffs to prove that the government was negligent in building its
projects, and that this negligence, not a hurricane, was the cause of
The government will argue that Hurricane Katrina would have devastated
the region whether or not the channel had ever been dug. The
government’s filings in today’s case state that the plaintiffs’
rationale for federal liability are based on “misguided and internally
The trial is expected to take four weeks. In his opening comments
today, Judge Duval, who is hearing the case without a jury, called it
“a significant case” and “the first real trial” about Katrina, the
levees and the role of the federal government. He referred to the
thousands of pages of depositions and expert testimony, saying “the
word ‘voluminous’ doesn’t quite do it.”
The thrust of the case, he said in his opening comments, was “a
question of causation” about whether the canal caused damage separate
from the levee failures, and, if so, whether the government has valid
The canal has been controversial from the start; critics had long
called it a “hurricane highway” and warned that it would help carry
storm surges into the city. The suit alleges that that the channel
killed the protective wetlands and cypress swamps to the east of the
city by allowing the intrusion of salt water from the Gulf, and also
caused the adjacent levees to subside. That amplified the effects of
waves coming across the channel, the plaintiffs say.
The Corps has argued consistently that the canal’s effect during
Katrina was insignificant. At the direction of Congress, however, the
Corps has begun to close the MR-GO canal using 434,000 tons of rock.
The plaintiffs say they hope a victory in the case could open the door
for a broader class action in which more than 400,000 claims have been
filed against the government. An Army financial projection has
concluded that there is a reasonable possibility that potential
government losses could ultimately range from $10 billion to $100
billion. Beyond the monetary damages, however, many in New
Orleans hope the lawsuit could put an end to the search for someone to
blame for the flood damage during Katrina, a quest that has haunted
many who lost their homes and businesses.
Like so many in the New Orleans area, Lucille Franz, one of the
plaintiffs in the case, lost everything in the storm. She and Anthony
Franz, her husband, came back from their evacuation to Texas during
hurricanes Katrina and Rita to find that their home on St. Claude
Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward had steeped in 18 to 22 feet of water
for three weeks. The water came three feet up the walls of the home’s
“I’ve been through a lot,” she said in an interview.
The home, which the family owned outright, was deemed a total loss. The
Franzes do not have the money to tear it down, much less rebuild it.
Family photographs, furniture, the stuff of a lifetime in the same home
were ruined, and a community of neighbors was scattered. Mrs.
Franz is 75; her husband is 80. They were uninsured — Mrs. Franz they
did not have flood insurance, and the $80,000 they received from the
Road Home program is not enough to start again. “You might purchase a
trailer, but you can’t get a house,” she said. The money pays their
rent for an apartment in Harahan, west of the city. “We need a home,”
Jonathan Beauregard Andry, one of the lawyers representing the Franzes
and other plaintiffs in the case, said that the Franzes are typical of
those who suffered damage and show why the suit is important. “Their
whole life is changed, and they should be compensated for that.”
Mr. Andry, whose father argued the Graci case in 1971, is a native of
St. Bernard parish. He is one of more than 50 lawyers from 20 law firms
around the nation working on the case. The people of the Lower Ninth
Ward and St. Bernard Parish, he said “don’t want sympathy, and they
don’t want something for nothing.”
Call for Change Ignored, Levees Remain
By MONICA DAVEY
Published: June 22, 2008
CANTON, Mo. — The levees along the Mississippi River offer a patchwork
of unpredictable protections. Some are tall and earthen, others aging
and sandy, and many along its tributaries uncataloged by federal
The levees are owned and maintained by all sorts of towns, agencies,
even individual farmers, making the work in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri
last week of gaming the flood — calculating where water levels would
exceed the capacity of the protective walls — especially agonizing.
After the last devastating flood in the Midwest 15 years ago, a
committee of experts commissioned by the Clinton administration issued
a 272-page report that recommended a more uniform approach to managing
rising waters along the Mississippi and its tributaries, including
giving the principal responsibility for many of the levees to the Army
Corps of Engineers.
But the committee chairman, Gerald E. Galloway Jr., a former brigadier
general with the Corps of Engineers, said in an interview that few
broad changes were made once the floodwaters of 1993 receded and were
“We told them there were going to be more floods like this,” said Dr.
Galloway, now an engineering professor at the University of Maryland.
“Everybody likes to go out and shake hands on the levee now and offer
sandbags, but that’s not helpful. This shouldn’t have happened in the
While the committee’s recommendations certainly would not have
prevented the Mississippi and its tributaries from rising to
catastrophic levels, Dr. Galloway said they could have lessened the
sense of helplessness and limited some of the damage.
Among the committee suggestions that Dr. Galloway said were largely
overlooked: a more systematic approach to what the 1994 report
described as “a loose aggregation of federal, local and individual
levees and reservoirs” on these Midwestern rivers in which, that report
said, “many levees are poorly sited and will fail again in the future.”
And after Hurricane Katrina destroyed levees protecting New Orleans in
2005, Congress passed a bill setting up a program to inventory and
inspect levees, but it failed to provide enough money to carry that
out, Dr. Galloway said. “We don’t even know where some of these levees
are,” he said.
All along the bloated Mississippi last week, the odd nature of this
collection of levees — autonomous but yet connected — played out in
towns like this one, Canton, about 125 miles northwest of St. Louis.
Walking along the top of Canton’s earthen levee on Wednesday, water up
to its brim, Richard Dodd barked instructions into a walkie-talkie and
scanned for leaks and bulges in it, the only thing left between the
river and the heart of this city.
Mr. Dodd, an alderman, was worried, too, about the levees he could not
see — along hundreds of miles, up and down the river and its
tributaries. A break in one could spare other towns, he said, or send
water rushing in unexpected directions, including here.
Canton’s mayor, Joe Clark, looked across the river to Meyer, Ill.,
where one of more than 20 levees either broke or overflowed last week.
“It would sure seem better to have this all under one jurisdiction,”
Mr. Clark said, “but that’s just not the way it is.” As it happened,
the overflowed levee across the river from Canton may have been what
spared his town from damage.
Water levels here had risen again by Saturday, but were predicted to
peak over the weekend and then begin dropping. Officials were
cautiously optimistic. “We’re holding our own,” Mr. Dodd said Saturday
In just one stretch along the Mississippi, based on federal data
available on Friday, at least 13 levees were overwhelmed by the river
this past week, offering a window into the system.
Three of the levees where water broke through or came over the top were
built and owned by local people, towns or agencies, and were not
certified as meeting federal standards, records show. Four others that
overflowed and then had holes break were built and maintained by towns
or drainage district boards, but had been certified by federal
authorities as meeting their standards.
The Army Corps of Engineers built or helped reconstruct the other six,
though local authorities now own them and are responsible for their
“There is a patchwork quilt of levee responsibility when it comes to
this,” said Butch Kinerney, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. “There is no federal agency which oversees levees.
That doesn’t exist.”
For more than a century, people near this river have been trying to
hold it back. Levees rise from these banks and the banks of its
tributaries in all heights and shapes, many built decades ago by
people, towns, groups of farmers.
Made of sand, clay, dirt and, in some cases, unknown materials, some
levees guard towns, others protect farm fields. There are long,
elaborate walls, like one here known as the Sny that runs more than 50
miles down the river. Others, tiny private levees, particularly those
on the smaller tributaries of the Mississippi, have long ago been
forgotten, and the federal authorities acknowledge that they are
uncertain where all of them are.
People in the Upper Midwest have been wrestling with the
“hodgepodge” of levees, as one Missouri geologist describes the
situation, for decades, even as officials in the 1920s designed a more
standardized system of protection south of here, along the Mississippi
downriver of Cairo, Ill., and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
After an enormous flood in 1927, the southern stretch of the river was
deemed part of a project area, and ordered to have levees designed by
the Corps of Engineers. “Those were good levees, all built to a single
standard,” said John M. Barry, who wrote “Rising Tide,” a book about
the 1927 flood.
But the flood had not devastated the Upper Mississippi region to
the degree it had in the south, and the political atmosphere, given the
enormous price of levee building, left those to the north out of the
equation, Mr. Barry said. So people here kept building on their own.
In the 1960s and ’70s, there were calls for improvements: In some
cases, Corps officials built or rebuilt certain levees (including
Canton’s in the 1960s), then handed them back to the local authorities.
Federal authorities also inspect and certify some levees as meeting
corps standards, a designation that allows communities to receive
subsidies if their levees fail.
But such certification is not mandatory for all levees. Of more than
200 known levees in this region alone, more than 100, many of them in
the Mississippi’s tributaries, have not been certified as meeting the
federal standards; they may have poor construction, signs of stress,
trees growing on them, animal burrows.
All of which has left an odd assortment of levees protecting these
towns, even now.
“It’s still sort of ad hoc,” said Ron Fournier, of the Rock Island
district of the Army Corps of Engineers.
Even as people here battled the rising waters last week, the
disconnected nature of these levees played out in complicated ways.
All around, people tried to raise their levees just a little more, just
enough, they hoped, to keep them above water. Atop the levees, they
piled sandbags, stone, wood. Town to town, it seemed an arms-race-like
battle to go higher. Here in Canton, carpenters spent days hammering a
two-foot wooden frame addition to the top of their levee, then padded
that with sandbags — tricks they learned from 1993.
But a topped-off levee in one town was not without effect on others
along the river, some said.
“We always flood fight and raise levees during events like this with
little or no coordination or regard for the impact it will have on
people upstream or across the river,” said Paul A. Osman of the
Illinois Office of Water Resources. “When you raise a levee, that water
has to go somewhere.”
Many experts said it was impossible to know whether a comprehensive
levee system might have changed things last week in the areas where
water flowed over levees, in the endless corn and soybean fields near
Meyer, Ill., or in the trailers and homes near Winfield, Mo. Many of
the levees overflowed — as opposed to breaking up or splitting open
first; they were simply overwhelmed by a huge amount of water. Some,
along open lands, were always expected to overflow at such high water
Still, Dr. Galloway said a broad, comprehensive flood management plan —
the one presented 14 years ago — would have helped. “Some agricultural
levees would still have overflowed,” he said. “But you would
substantially have reduced the damage.”
Surges Over Nearly a Dozen Levees
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR and MONICA DAVEY
Published: June 20, 2008
The swollen Mississippi River continued to spread destruction on
Thursday, surging over nearly a dozen levees in the St. Louis area and
flooding vast areas of farmland, as the region’s growing crisis pushed
corn and soy prices toward record levels.
The runaway river claimed its latest Missouri town late Wednesday night
when it broke a levee in Winfield, just outside of St. Louis, leaving a
150-foot hole, deluging the small community and sending a surge of
water downstream toward the next levee. Crews of firefighters spent the
night evacuating residents, in some cases by boat, as workers fought to
contain the river further south.
With weather forecasters calling for as many as two inches of rain in
some parts of Missouri on Thursday, crews of emergency responders,
sandbags in hand, were preparing for the worst.
St. Louis is the next major town in the path of the surging river,
which is expected to crest at 40 feet there on Saturday. Because the
river widens in St. Louis and connects with several tributaries, the
damage is expected to be minimal. Still, the threat was great enough to
prompt the city to relocate its annual Independence Day fair and
festival for the first time.
President Bush was expected on Thursday to visit several communities,
including Cedar Rapids, where the waters have receded but 25,000 people
are homeless, according to the White House.
Since the flooding began, 20 levees have been breached — 11 of them in
the St. Louis area — and as many as 30 more were in peril. Estimates of
the damage to farmland throughout the Midwest ranged from 2 million to
5 million acres of crops, pushing corn prices close to a record price
of $8 a bushel. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is said to be
planning a thorough review of the damage later this month.
On Wednesday, the surging river was gruesome news for the farmers and
residents — about 100, the authorities said — near the tiny hamlet of
Meyer in western Illinois. Around the small community, part of a region
of endless fields of soybeans, corn and cattle, state conservation
police officers rode door to door in boats to ensure that everyone had
left, and flew over in a helicopter, scanning for anyone stranded.
So it went all along the Mississippi this week, through Iowa, Illinois
and Missouri, north of St. Louis: People marching along levees and
flood walls, scanning for the slightest puddle or hint of pressure in
the sand, waiting for what might come. In Quincy, Ill., local officials
raced to reinforce a levee they were worried about south of town; at
stake were 100,000 acres of farmland and access to the Mark Twain
Bridge. And federal authorities said they were closely monitoring more
than 20 other levees they view as vulnerable, as the waters continue to
rise downstream in the coming days.
Around Meyer, farmers were devastated. “That’s all been lost, and it’s
not going to be replanted this season,” said Gerald Jenkins, general
manager of Ursa Farmers Cooperative, not far from Meyer. One of the
cooperative’s grain elevators, in Meyer, was swamped, Mr. Jenkins said,
another at risk.
Worse, Mr. Jenkins said he feared that so many fields under water would
mean not much grain for the cooperative to sell come the fall harvest.
“It’s a very sickening feeling,” he said.
Still, the breached levees were a guilty relief for others, here in
Canton and in the other towns on the Missouri side of the river or
downstream, who had watched the water rise and rise, and hoped that a
breach somewhere else might mean less flooding where they were.
“It’s too bad for them, but that’s the way it is,” Joe Clark, the mayor
of Canton, said on Wednesday. Throughout the town, hundreds of workers
scrambled to raise a three-mile-long levee still higher, with
two-foot-tall wooden boards and piles upon piles of sandbags. So far,
the levee here was winning, but the river’s crest — only inches short
of the highest ever here — was not expected until early Thursday. Mr.
Clark said he was hopeful that the town’s levee would hold, and its
empty, shuttered downtown would be spared. “Now it’s a matter of
waiting,” he said.
A few miles south, the waters crept waist high in some parts of
LaGrange, Mo. Still, the levee failures elsewhere might lessen the
blow, even in LaGrange. “Everything that’s broken other places is
helping us,” said Pat Ryan, who continued to pile sandbags around his
house, despite the rising waters.
In towns throughout the area, roads closed, train cars sat empty on
flooded tracks, and bridges over the river were barricaded. Everywhere,
sore, sweaty volunteers filled sandbags — more than 12.8 million of
them have been issued so far during this flooding, by the United States
Army Corps of Engineers.
Despite several days of mostly dry weather here, the sheer volume of
water already in the tributaries of the Mississippi had led,
inevitably, to flooding along the Mississippi itself. More rain,
though, may be on the way: a storm system was forecast to roll over
some of the flooded areas on Thursday and Friday, bringing scattered
thunderstorms, up to an inch of rain and even the possibility of large
hail in parts. The storms were not expected to raise flood levels
South of here, in Clarksville, the water that had already swamped some
homes rose nine more inches by Wednesday.
“You just see it creeping up,” Tommy Beauchamp, a volunteer
firefighter, said on Wednesday.
There was one piece of good news, though: the water was expected to
crest about three inches lower than had been predicted, perhaps, in
part, because of upstream levee breaks. To Mr. Beauchamp, the
difference did not seem measly. “We celebrate every inch that we can
get,” he said.
Levee System Repairs
May Imperil French Quarter; New Orleans' heart survived Katrina
By Cain Burdeau, Associated Press Writer
Published on 7/2/2007
New Orleans — The government's repairs to New Orleans'
hurricane-damaged levees may put the French Quarter in greater danger
than it was before Hurricane Katrina, a weakness planners said couldn't
be helped, at least for now.
Experts say the stronger levees and flood walls could funnel storm
water into the cul-de-sac of the Industrial Canal, only 2 miles from
Bourbon Street, and overwhelm the waterway's 12-foot-high concrete
flood walls that shield some of the city's most cherished
neighborhoods. The only things separating Creole bungalows and
St. Louis Cathedral from a hurricane's storm surge are those barriers,
similar in design to the walls that broke during Katrina.
“A system is much like a chain. We have strengthened some of the
lengths, and those areas are now better protected,” said Robert Bea, a
lead investigator of an independent National Science Foundation team
that examined Katrina's levee failures.
“When the chain is challenged by high water again, it will break at
those weak links, and they are now next to some of the oldest
neighborhoods, including the French Quarter, Marigny, and all of those
areas west of the cul-de-sac.”
J. David Rogers, another engineer with the National Science Foundation
team, concurred with Bea's assessment that the French Quarter may now
be in more peril than before Katrina. Officials from the Army
Corps of Engineers knew the levee repairs would heighten the risk to
the French Quarter. One commander even called it the system's
To curb the danger, the corps reinforced the existing barriers. But
engineers didn't have enough time or money to entirely replace the
flood walls with higher, stronger ones.
Bea and other independent experts say those steps were insufficient.
“It wasn't, 'Get all the repairs done and then look at the rest of the
system,”' said Ed Link, a University of Maryland engineer and a top
adviser on the reconstruction work. “It was all being done in parallel.”
The system, he said, is stronger now, but “it's misinformation to infer
that it's an unintended consequence.”
The possibility of a heightened risk came as a surprise to many
residents of the French Quarter and districts such as New Marigny,
where jazz great Jelly Roll Morton once lived.
“Is that what they're saying? Oh, boy, that's not good,” said Nathan
Chapman, president of Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and
Associates Inc., an advocacy group that defends the quality of life in
the French Quarter. “It's not on enough people's radar.”
Adolph Bynum was unconvinced about the potential new threat to his
restoration of an 1840 Creole cottage damaged by Katrina's winds in
Treme, a charming neighborhood next to the French Quarter where
plantation owners once housed their black mistresses.
“If the cottage floods or Treme floods, so will the French Quarter. If
that happens, everything is flooded,” Bynum said.
The city's oldest neighborhoods were settled long ago because they were
the only dry ground in a wilderness of swamp. When Katrina struck,
flooding only reached the outer limit of the French Quarter, creeping
into places such as St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the site of voodoo
priestess Marie Laveau's tomb. With their open-air markets,
flamboyant artists, baroque churches and carefree lifestyle, the
neighborhoods next to the Industrial Canal are some of the city's most
prized real estate and give New Orleans its old-world soul.
“If we lose them, gosh, New Orleans would no longer be New Orleans,”
As for the new threat posed by the Industrial Canal, corps officials
argue that there are other low and weak spots along the channel that
might be the first to go, taking pressure off of the section near the
But Bea cautioned that a set of navigational locks on the French
Quarter side would likely cause water to accumulate and even create a
whirlpool effect. He said there is evidence the locks were a factor in
the collapse of the flood wall next to the Lower 9th Ward during
Katrina. The Lower 9th Ward sits on the other side of the canal from
the French Quarter. Corps officials also say that if water
spilled over the walls near the Quarter, or even breached them,
low-lying neighborhoods would flood first.
But Army engineers don't plan on taking any chances. They may
eventually add steel plates to raise and armor the walls, block storm
surge with sunken barges, and install flood gates. However, there
is no plan to beef up the protection for this year's hurricane
season. Cecil Soileau, a corps consultant and former corps
engineer who designed many of the levees, said alarm over the threat to
the Quarter is overblown.
“We've had people in the past saying Jackson Square would be inundated
with 26 feet of water and only the steeple of the cathedral would be
sticking up,” Soileau said. “And I don't think that's a realistic
Would Divert The Mississippi
River ; Scientists say it would help control flooding
By Cornelia Dean, New York Times News Service
Published on 9/19/2006
Scientists have long said that the only way to restore Louisiana's
vanishing wetlands is to undo the elaborate levee system that controls
the Mississippi River, not with the small projects that have been tried
here and there, but with a massive diversion that would send the muddy
river flooding wholesale into the state's sediment-starved marshes.
And most of them have long dismissed the idea as impractical,
unaffordable, and lethal to the region's economy. Now, they are
reconsidering. In fact, when a group of researchers convened last April
to consider the fate of the Louisiana coast, their recommendation was
unanimous: divert the river.
Far from rejecting the idea, state officials have embraced it,
motivated not just by the lessons of Hurricane Katrina but also by
growing fears that global climate change will bring rising seas,
accelerated land loss, and worse weather.
“A major diversion in the lower part of the river is something that
needs to be done,” said James R. Hanchey, deputy secretary of the
Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. He said the state was
convening a planning meeting on the idea this fall. The diversion would
be well downstream of New Orleans, in the bird-foot delta at the
river's mouth. Even so, there would be tremendous engineering
challenges, particularly in finding a new way for freighters to make
their way into the Mississippi's shipping channel, said Hanchey, who
took his job after retiring as director of engineering and technical
services for the Mississippi Valley division of the Army Corps of
Engineers. But he added, “I think it's within the realm of possibility.”
Ellis J. Clairain Jr., interim director of the Louisiana Coastal Area
science and technology program for the Army Corps, called the idea “a
'The only practical solution'
And Virginia R. Burkett, coordinator of global-change science for the
U.S. Geological Survey and another participant at the April meeting,
called it “the only practical solution.”
The diversion proposal was recommended by a panel of dozens of
scientists and engineers from all over the world invited to Louisiana
to view the state's marshy coast and to envision its future, said
Denise J. Reed, a coastal geologist at the University of New Orleans
who organized the meeting.
“The thing is to stop wasting 120 million tons of sediment” the river
carries into the Gulf of Mexico on an average year, Reed said. Because
the bird-foot delta has grown so far into the gulf, she said, the
river's mouth is at the edge of the continental shelf. As a result, the
sediment it carries ends up in deep water, where it is lost forever.
A diversion would send the river's richly muddy water into marshes or
shallow-water areas where, Reed said, “the natural processes of waves,
coastal currents, and even storms can rework that sediment and bring it
up and bring it into the coast.”
“It's a lot,” she said, enough to cover 60 square miles half an inch
deep every year, an amount that would slow or even reverse land loss in
the state's marshes, which have shrunk by about a quarter, more than
1,500 square miles, since the 1930s. Such a program would not turn
things around immediately, “but every year new land would be built,”
said Joseph T. Kelley, a professor of marine geology at the University
of Maine, who took part in the April meeting.
As the bird-foot delta broke up, Reed said, it would provide needed
sediment to the frail strings of barrier islands that line some of the
Another potential benefit, Hanchey said, would come from the
substantial nutrient runoff from inland agriculture in chemicals that
contribute to the so-called dead zone of oxygen-poor water near the
river's mouth. Applied to the marsh, the nutrients might encourage
desirable plants, he said.
Designing such a diversion would be complex and time-consuming, and the
experts who met in April did not even attempt it. Even this fall's
meeting is not to plan the project, but to plan how the project should
be planned, Hanchey said. Though Louisiana is rich in experts on river,
wetland, and coastal science, he said, state officials hoped to recruit
scientists and engineers from all over the world to tell them “what we
would have to know before we could initiate work on something like
this, and what we would have to do to gain that knowledge.”
In a way, the bird-foot delta is an artifact of engineering. Without
the levees and other structures that keep the river in place, it
probably would have taken another path.
Like many major rivers, the Mississippi has tributaries, which feed
water into it, and distributaries, which carry water away from it as it
nears its mouth. Its tributaries include the Missouri and Ohio Rivers;
one way or another, every stream, storm drain, and parking lot from the
Rockies to the Appalachians drains into the Mississippi. But about 250
miles from the gulf, near Lettsworth, La., the river stops taking water
in and starts feeding it out, into the gulf through the main stem of
the bird-foot delta but also in distributaries like the Atchafalaya
River, which flows into Atchafalaya Bay to the west.
Until people interfered with its flow, the Mississippi's path to the
gulf silted up naturally over time; water flow slowed and the river bed
lost its capacity to carry a big flood. When next the big flood came,
the river would suddenly turn one of its distributaries into its new
This kind of switching has occurred roughly every 1,500 years,
geologists say, and since about 1950 the river has been ready for a
change — to the Atchafalaya. The Corps of Engineers prevents that from
happening with an enormous installation of locks, dams, and power
stations near Lettsworth, north of Baton Rouge and about 100 miles
northwest of New Orleans.
Simply letting the Mississippi shift to the Atchafalaya would do a lot
for the sediment-starved marshes west of the Mississippi. But it would
leave cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans — and the petrochemical
infrastructure between them — without fresh water or a navigable
The diversion the scientists propose would be much farther downstream,
but where exactly is not at all certain. One possible location is near
Davant, about 45 miles southeast of New Orleans. Another is near
Empire, further down the river, where the levees could be opened. In
either case, the river flows into wet and marshy areas to the west.
Another way would have to be found — or constructed — for ships to
reach the shipping lane, possibly something engineers call a
As Clairain explained, “You divert the river, and then you create an
avenue in which you are not allowing the river or the sediment to
pass,” a channel or lock in which water does not move. “The ship comes
up to whatever control you have” — a gate or the like — “and the ship
passes through and then the control is reinstituted.”
He said he was not aware of similar installations on this scale
elsewhere but said, “We have a lot of great people in the state and
around the nation who are contemplating these kinds of solutions.”
Almost certainly, he and others say, such an approach would require
vast new construction. Clairain said it was unlikely planners would
consider using the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet as a shipping channel.
Known as Mr. Go, this outlet, just southeast of New Orleans, was blamed
as a path for some of the floodwaters that inundated the city during
Katrina. Chief among its drawbacks as a shipping channel would be the
difficulty of keeping it dredged for big ships.
Other issues include the fate of those who live south of the proposed
diversion, compensation for land lost to the project, and ownership of
any land created by it.
Hanchey said relatively few people would have to be relocated.
“The closest community is Venice, at the end of the levee system, about
10 miles north of Head of Passes,” where the river splays into the
gulf, he said, but its population even pre-Katrina was tiny. South of
that is Pilot Town, but that, he said, is little more than a place for
river pilots to stay while they wait for ships.
“There might also be some oyster-lease issues, but those would be
minor,” he said.
Another question has to do with land rights. Oliver Houck, a professor
of environmental law at Tulane University, said fishing access and oil
and gas rights are the crucial land issues in Louisiana. “Under
traditional land regimes,” Houck said, newly created riverside or marsh
land belongs to the abutting landowner. “The wild card here is, what if
you gain it through a huge federal-state project?”
But Hanchey and Houck say those issues can also be dealt with
relatively easily. Navigation is a bigger problem.
People involved in the proposal recognize that the lower Mississippi is
“a working landscape” that must continue to function, said James T.B.
Tripp, a lawyer for Environmental Defense and a member of the Louisiana
Governor's Commission for Coastal Restoration.
“One of the major obstacles to doing any of this pre-Katrina was the
navigation industry,” he said. “As a result of Katrina, everyone's
thinking has become more flexible. Katrina brought all that home: how
vulnerable this economic infrastructure has become. So there is a
greater readiness today to think more boldly about how we can manage
the river in a way that will help restore and build wetlands.”
The proposed project will be expensive. But Tripp said there were
already “three or four” available financing sources, including coastal
oil and gas revenues and other money already approved for coastal
Expensive, but cost-effective
“Is it practical? Yes,” he said. “Will it be expensive? Yes. But when
you look at the alternatives it's very cost effective,” particularly in
an era of rising sea levels.
Obviously, no one wants to make irrevocable changes in the flow of the
Mississippi River only to find out they cause more problems than they
solve. Could that happen? “I think it's possible,” Hanchey said.
But he added: “Our ability to understand and model river responses to
actions like this has improved. The technology of hydrodynamic modeling
has improved, and of course we have tremendously increased
computational power we did not have before. We can run models today in
a matter of hours that took weeks even 20 years ago. All of that has
“Still, whether we can model the river precisely I don't know. It's
going to require a lot of data. It's going to require a lot of brains.
There are probably a limited number of people in the world who have
worked on something as large as the Mississippi River.”
Clairain said the idea of constructing a project and then watching
unanticipated consequences lead to disaster “is the kind of thing the
Corps of Engineers as a whole worries about.” He continued: “We are
talking about doing projects that can have huge impacts to large
portions of the nation, the economy, the people. If the project does
not deliver all the ecosystem benefits you are hoping it will, you can
make tweaks and the ecosystem will survive. That's not true of flood
control and economics.”
But there is a growing recognition that the cost of not acting will be
high as well.
Along the Louisiana coast, in the delta plain along the river and the
oaky woods along Chenier Plain to the west, much of the land is only a
few feet above sea level. If seas rise as expected by two or three
feet, or more, in the next century, and if the muddy sediments that
form this landscape continue to compact and subside, land loss will
Given the proposal's many unknowns, it is hard to say how soon water
might begin to flow from the river into the marshes. If there is a
decision to go ahead, designing the project might take three or four
years, Hanchey said. “And then of course to build something like this —
depending on what this thing ended up looking like, it would take
another five to 10 years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Reed said, participants in the April meeting are going to
produce “a scholarly report” outlining their views in more detail.
“We want to get the citations and the context and the substance behind
the arguments,” she said. Reed said she was “invigorated” by the
support the idea had received. “My job is to try to carry it through,”
she said, “and make sure people don't forget about it.”
Canal, Levee Design
Faulted: Experts: Errors Led To New Orleans Flooding
By JOBY WARRICK And MICHAEL GRUNWALD, Washington Post
October 24, 2005
NEW ORLEANS -- Within a space of 15
Aug. 29, three massive, concrete floodwalls in separate parts of the
city suddenly fractured and burst under the weight of surging waters
from Hurricane Katrina. What might have been a routine hurricane became
the costliest storm in U.S. history.
Now, eight weeks after the storm, all three breaches are looking less
like acts of God and more like failures of engineering that could have
been anticipated and very likely prevented.
Investigators in recent days have assembled evidence
of design flaws in the failures of two floodwalls near Lake
Pontchartrain that collapsed when weakened soils beneath them became
saturated and began to slide. They also have confirmed that a
little-used navigation canal helped amplify and intensify Katrina's
initial surge, contributing to a third floodwall collapse on the east
side of town. The walls and navigation canal were built by the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for defending the city
against hurricane-related flooding.
The preliminary findings - based on physical evidence, Corps documents
and hydrodynamic models run through a Louisiana State University
supercomputer - are the work of three teams of engineers and forensic
experts conducting separate probes.
rejected the initial explanation offered by Corps officials: that
massive storm surges overtopped and overwhelmed floodwalls on the 17th
Street and London Avenue canals on the north side of town. The new
findings for the first time point to a human role in all three of the
major floodwall failures that left about 100,000 homes underwater and
caused most of Louisiana's approximately 1,000 hurricane deaths.
Experts now believe Katrina was no stronger than a Category 3 storm
when it roared into New Orleans, and Congress had directed the Corps to
protect the city from just such a hurricane. "This was not the Big One
- not even close," said Hassan Mashriqui, a storm surge expert at LSU's
Hurricane Center. He said Katrina would have caused some modest
flooding and wind damage regardless, but human errors turned "a problem
into a catastrophe."
The National Science Foundation, the
American Society of Civil Engineers, and the state of Louisiana are all
investigating the floodwall breaches, and Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld announced last week that the National Academies of Sciences
will lead a separate probe.
The independent investigations
have pointed to two failures in the infrastructure maintained by the
Army Corps of Engineers that were critical:
In 1965, the Corps
completed the 76-mile-long, 36-foot-deep Mississippi River Gulf Outlet,
a larger dirt-moving project than the Panama Canal. The outlet - known
locally as MRGO, or "Mr. Go" - created a navigation shortcut to the
Port of New Orleans, but also what amounted to a funnel that would
accelerate and enlarge any storm surges headed for the city's levees.
Three months before Katrina, Mashriqui told a room full of emergency
managers that the outlet was a "critical and fundamental flaw" in the
Corps hurricane defenses, a "Trojan Horse" that could amplify storm
surges 20 percent to 40 percent.
With the help of a supercomputer, Mashriqui has now concluded the
effect was even worse than he predicted.
The analysis shows the outlet's "funnel" intensified the initial surge
by 20 percent, raising the wall of water about 3 feet. It also
increased the velocity of the surge, which Mashriqui believes
contributed to the scouring that undermined the levees and floodwalls
along the outlet and Industrial canal.
"Without MRGO, the
flooding would have been much less," he said. "The levees might have
overtopped, but they wouldn't have been washed away."
officials declined comment on the results of the modeling. But Corps
spokesman Jason Fanselau said the agency's data still point to a
massive surge that exceeded the height of the Industrial Canal
floodwall by more than a few feet.
overwhelmed the system," he said. "There was a huge wall of surge that
obliterated entire sections of the floodwall."
In the case of
the 17th Street and London Avenue canals, the independent investigators
believe it was the floodwalls themselves that were the problem. The
reason was the naturally soft soil made up of river silts and swampy
peat that has been the bane of builders here for two centuries.
Investigators believe the walls collapsed when soft soils beneath them
became saturated and began to shift under the weight of relatively
modest surges from the lake. Newly released documents show the Corps
was aware years ago that a particularly unstable layer of soil lay
beneath both floodwalls.
"These levees did not overtop, yet
they failed anyway," said Peter Nicholson, an engineering professor at
the University of Hawaii at Manoa and leader of the ASCE investigating
Documents given to investigators by former Corps
contractors have shed some light on what government engineers knew
about the weak soils and how this knowledge affected their decisions.
In the 1980s, the Corps began constructing concrete floodwalls on top
of older earthen levees to give the city's northern neighborhoods
better protection from storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain. Soil tests
in the 1980s detected trouble 20 feet below the surface: a thick layer
of spongy, organic soil called peat. Soft and highly compressible when
dry, peat becomes even weaker when saturated with water.
document reveals Corps officials took careful measurements of the peat
layer and tested the soil in a laboratory to calculate its relative
strength, according to Robert Bea, a professor of engineering at the
University of California at Berkeley and a member of the NSF
investigating team. Based on those calculations, the Corps designed a
concrete-and-steel floodwall anchored to the earth by steel pilings
driven to a depth of 20 feet.
"The depth of the pilings becomes
important," said Bea, because the "tips of the sheet piles may not have
penetrated the peat." Meanwhile, because the canal was dredged to an
even greater depth, water penetrated the peat layer from the inside,
"There was a gap where water could get
through," said Ivor Van Heerden, the deputy director of the LSU
Hurricane Center and the leader of the Louisiana forensic
investigation. "Water was able to get around or through those pilings
to the other side and start weakening the structure."
Reports of problems with the soft underlayer began to surface even
before the floodwalls were finished.
1993, the now-defunct Pittman Construction Co., a New Orleans firm
involved in levee construction, claimed in court documents that
floodwall sections were failing to line up properly because of unstable
soils. An administrative law judge dismissed the complaint on technical
grounds in 1996.
Mystery surrounds floodwall breaches
Could a structural flaw be to blame?
By John McQuaid, Staff writer
September 13, 2005
of the central mysteries emerging in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is
why concrete floodwalls in three canals breached during the storm,
causing much of the catastrophic flooding, while earthen hurricane
levees surrounding the city remained intact.
It probably will take months to investigate and make a conclusive
determination about what happened, according to the Army Corps of
Engineers. But two Louisiana State University scientists who have
examined the breaches suggest that a structural flaw in the floodwalls
might be to blame.
"Why did we have no hurricane levee failures but five separate places
with floodwall failures?" asked Joseph Suhayda, a retired LSU coastal
engineer who examined the breaches last week. "That suggests there may
be something about floodwalls that makes them more susceptible to
failure. Did (the storm) exceed design conditions? What were the
conditions? What about the construction?"
Ivor Van Heerden, who uses computer models to study storm-surge
dynamics for the LSU Hurricane Center, has said that fragmentary
initial data indicate that Katrina's storm-surge heights in Lake
Pontchartrain would not have been high enough to top the canal walls
and that a "catastrophic structural failure" occurred in the floodwalls.
Corps project manager Al Naomi said that the Corps' working theory is
that the floodwalls were well-constructed, but once topped they gave
way after water scoured their interior sides, wearing away their
earth-packed bases. But he said some other problem could have caused
"They could have been overtopped. There could have been some structural
failure. They could have been impacted by some type of debris," Naomi
said. "I don't think it's right to make some type of judgment now. It's
like presuming the reason for a plane crash without recovering the
Officials long had warned about the danger of levees being topped by
high water from a storm surge. Absent topping, floodwalls are supposed
to remain intact.
The floodwalls lining New Orleans canals consist of concrete sections
attached to steel sheet pile drilled deep into the earth, fortified by
a concrete and earthen base. The sections are joined with a flexible,
Floodwalls were breached in the 17th Street Canal, at two places in the
London Avenue Canal, and at two places in the Industrial Canal, Suhayda
said. Naomi said last week that one of the Industrial Canal breaches
likely was caused by a loose barge that broke through it.
Suhayda said that his inspection of the debris from the 17th Street
Canal breach suggests the wall simply gave way. "It looks to have been
laterally pushed, not scoured in back with dirt being removed in
pieces," he said. "You can see levee material, some distance pushed
inside the floodwall area, like a bulldozer pushed it."
He suggested that because the walls failed in a few spots, the flaw may
not be in the design but in the construction or materials.
"Those sections in the rest of the wall should have been subjected to
the same forces as that section that failed," he said. "Why did one
side fail, not the other side?"
Drainage canals typically are lined with floodwalls instead of the
wider earthen levees that protect the lakefront because of a lack of
space, engineers say.
"It's a right-of-way issue," Naomi said. "Usually, there are homes
right up against the canal. You have to relocate five miles of homes
(to build a levee), or you can build a floodwall."
Constructing a more expensive earthen levee also would require building
farther out into the canal itself, reducing the size of the canal - and
the volume of water it could handle.
Naomi said that an earthen levee also could have been breached if the
surge had pushed water over the top. "A levee failure might be more
gradual than with a floodwall," he said. "It means you may have flooded
a little slower."
The central question for engineers investigating the breaches will be
whether the floodwalls were topped - and that's still unclear.
The levee system, floodwalls included, is designed to protect against
an average storm surge of 11.5 feet above sea level. The Corps adds
several more feet of "freeboard" to account for waves and other
Naomi said the Industrial Canal floodwalls were topped by water coming
in from the east. But scientists don't yet know exactly whether
Katrina's Lake Pontchartrain surge was high enough to go over the wall
in the two other canals.
Many storm surge gauges stopped functioning during the storm, LSU
climatologist Barry Keim, though initial data point to a mi-lake height
of eight or nine feet. Heights typically are higher at the Lakefront
area because wind pushes water higher against the levees.
Suhayda said the debris line on the lakefront levee adjacent to the
canal was "several feet" below the top. The levees are 17 or 18 feet
high in that area. The canal levees, however, average only 14 feet.
Storm surges have waves and other dynamics that push water still higher
than the average height.
"There are big implications for as little as a one-foot change in
elevation" of the storm surge, Suhayda said.
If the water did not top the levees, the breaches could prove more
mysterious. Typically, the pounding of wave action would be the most
likely way to cause a breach, scientists say. But there isn't much wave
action in canals.
"Waves constantly breaking on the structure start to erode it and make
it become unstable," said LSU coastal geologist Greg Stone, who studies
storm-surge dynamics. "But I don't think that was a major factor in the
canals. You just don't have the (open area) to allow wave growth to
ripped up La. coastline:Talks surface on how to protect La., coast
By Mark Schleifstein
Staff writer, Times-Picayune
blog, recorded here on Saturday, September 3, 2005
Louisiana coastal restoration officials began brainstorming with
officials from the Army Corps of Engineers on Friday about how to
protect the New Orleans area and other communities in southeastern
Louisiana from another catastrophic hurricane and restore its coastal
wetlands at the same time. They're trying to quickly hammer
together a plan that could be thrown into an expected supplemental
congressional appropriation that's needed to pay the cost of Katrina
rescue and recovery efforts, said Randy Hanchey, deputy secretary of
the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.
Sidney Coffee, coastal adviser to Gov. Kathleen Blanco, confirmed that
the talks began Friday. Late Friday, corps officials announced
they are beginning to breach levees to drain water from Chalmette,
flooded because of failures of levees along the Industrial Canal.
Backhoes mounted on marsh buggies and draglines mounted on barges will
cut breaches in the levees, including one along the Mississippi
River-Gulf Outlet between the Bayou Bienville and Bayou Dupree
floodgates and another near the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Canal.
Breaches of two ring levees in Plaquemines Parish, one on each bank of
the river, will soon follow, the corps announcement said. Corps
officials already have said that protecting New Orleans from a Category
5 storm would cost at least $2.5 billion.
The proposed Morganza-to-Gulf hurricane protection levee being
considered for authorization during this term of Congress, is estimated
to cost $670 million, but would only protect parts of Terrebonne,
Lafourche and Jefferson parishes from a Category 3 storm, just like the
existing levees around the New Orleans area. Congress also is
considering a $1.2 billion proposal to begin restoring the coastline, a
process estimated to eventually cost $15 billion.
"We're trying to put together a package recommending a comprehensive
hurricane protection and costal restoration program that will provide a
much higher level of protection, with the restoration of critical land
features in the coastal zone that provide surge protection," Hanchey
"How this will be received, we just don't know," he said. "But you
can't look at hurricane protection any more from the microeconomic,
one-city point of view any more. If one is concerned about economic
justification about a project like this, that question has been
answered." Hanchey said the preliminary plan is to ask Congress
to allow the corps to skip the preliminary cost-justification steps of
these projects that often take as long as five to 10 years.
"We need to accelerate the way the funds are provided and move directly
to design and construction," he said. "We need to be starting
today." State and federal officials have been delayed in
determining how much damage the Category 4 Katrina has done to coastal
areas because manpower, boats, planes and helicopters all have been
pressed into service to rescue people in New Orleans.
A flight by Coffee and other coastal officials at dusk Thursday,
however, indicated that as much as half of Plaquemines Parish was still
underwater. While it's still unclear whether the wetlands there
have been destroyed, Coffee said the view was similar to maps drawn by
the state to show what the coastline would look like in 2050 without a
Asbury Sallenger, a coastal geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's
St. Petersburg, Fla., laboratory, has been able to fly photographic
missions over the eastern Louisiana coastline and the coasts of
Mississippi and Alabama during the past few days to measure Katrina's
damage. He said the Chandeleur Islands have been ripped asunder,
and look worse than they did after Hurricane Georges in 1998 and
Tropical Storm Isidore and Hurricane Ivan in 2002.
Meanwhile, state Department of Environmental Quality and the Louisiana
Oil Spill Coordinator's Office are trying to determine the extent of a
major oil spill at mile marker 22 on the Mississippi River near
Venice. DEQ spokesman Darren Mann said it's still unclear whether
the oil is leaking from a pair of holding tanks that have been
described as holding either 800,000 barrels of oil each or 2 million
barrels of oil each, he said.
Coffee said there were a number of smaller oil spills near platforms
all along southern Plaquemines Parish. How much oil is in the
water, and exactly where it comes from will have to wait until
officials can get to the area by boat, he said. Meanwhile,
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals officials say floodwaters
inside levees in St. Bernard and Jefferson parishes and New Orleans are
a toxic mix of bacteria contamination and hazardous chemicals.
Exactly what chemicals might be in the water is not yet known, said
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson in a
phone interview from Washington.
"It's too early to speculate," Johnson said. "We haven't even gotten to
the point where we're able to assess what's there or not there."
Emergency preparedness experts have long warned that floodwaters in New
Orleans could be contaminated with everything from the household
chemicals beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks to hazardous chemicals in
businesses and factories to gasoline and diesel fuel leaking from
underground storage tanks. Above-ground tanks also were expected to add
to the mix as they floated free from their supports, breaking piping as
Contaminated water already is being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain,
where it will make its way along the south shore, out the Chef Menteur
and Rigolets passes and into the Gulf of Mexico. Equally contaminated
floodwaters from St. Bernard Parish also will end up in coastal
wetlands, all of which are home to the state's lucrative oyster
industry and other fisheries.
Johnson said the Federal Drug Administration and Department of Health
and Human Services will assist in making sure no contaminated seafood
reaches the public in the months to come. The state Health Department
also will assist in that effort. Health Department spokesman Bob
Johannessen said triage units treating evacuees haven't seen tell-tale
rashes on legs or other bare skin that would result from exposure to
toxic chemicals. He said bacteria in the water could have gotten into
wounds, and the problems that might cause could take some time to show
Federal and state officials continue to search from the air for
chemical and oil leaks, but a detailed inspection also has been delayed
by the diversion of personnel to rescue efforts.
"Our first priority is to assist and make sure people are safe and we
are actually saving lives," Johnson said. "We have 69 watercraft
on the scene and thus far, emergency response personnel have rescued
500 people," he said.
The EPA also is providing 50 workers to conduct environmental
assessments of construction sites for temporary housing that will be
built during the next few weeks for displaced residents, he said.
An EPA plane equipped with sensing instruments flew over a warehouse
fire on a Mississippi River wharf in New Orleans Friday and found no
evidence of toxic materials, Mann said.
The agency also is working with the corps in preparing a plan to deal
with the vast quantity of storm debris left in Katrina's wake.
"We will be assessing the debris material to see if it is indeed
hazardous," Johnson said.
Johnson said he was unaware of the unique problems that debris would
present if it is infested with Formosan termites, but said that would
be added to the list. When South Carolina officials stored debris
from Charleston's older neighborhoods in empty lots on the outskirt of
town after Hurricane Hugo hit the Formosan termite-infested area, the
termites were spread to new areas, officials there said.
Entomologist Kenneth Grace of the University of Hawaii said it's likely
that floodwater may result in a reduction of termite nests in the New
Orleans area, but that even long-standing stormwater won't kill all of
the damaging insects. That's because their underground nests are likely
to contain pockets of air, and they also have nests in the upper trunks
of trees above the floodwaters.
And he warned that moving building debris around was likely to spread
the insects to areas not yet infested, just like in Charleston.
Mark Schleifstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
45 Cops AWOL in storm
fired; another 228 officers who left and returned are under
By Michael Perlstein, Staff Writer,
Saturday, October 29,
Forty-five New Orleans police officers who fled
Katrina were fired as outright deserters Friday, but the police
department still faces the more delicate task of investigating another
228 officers who returned to the job after leaving without permission
at some point during the storm and its resulting chaos.
Acting Police Chief Warren Riley said the termination
mailed Friday represented the easy cases because those officers have
not contacted the department since leaving their posts. Of the AWOL
cops, all carried the rank of patrol officer except for one ranking
commander, a sergeant, Riley said. Six civilian employees also were
sent "abandonment letters," he said. Riley did not release the names of
"It is unfortunate that some members did not uphold their
office to support the city of New Orleans and the dedicated men and
women of the NOPD," Riley said.
Since the Aug. 29 storm, 15 officers resigned while under
investigation, 45 officers resigned citing personal reasons, nine
officers retired and two committed suicide, Riley said. Added to
Friday's firings, the department has lost 116 officers altogether --
about 7 percent of the force -- but their absence has hardly been felt
in the past month because much of the city has been emptied of
citizens, dropping crime to record low levels.
"We're still functioning and we're a very effective
spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said. The force stood at 1,650 before
the storm. Including officers who are out with injuries or illness, it
now numbers 1,448, including the 228 who are under investigation for
leaving their posts.
Of the city's eight police districts, the 7th District --
eastern New Orleans -- lost the most officers, Riley said. But that
area also suffered some of the most severe flooding and loss of
residents, making the normal contingent of officers unnecessary.
Riley said the city has no plans to recruit new officers to
the vacancies. But the ultimate size and shape of the force won't be
determined until the Public Integrity Bureau investigates the remaining
228 officers who left at some point during the crisis.
Once the facts are gathered, those officers will face a
the department's top commanders to determine what disciplinary action
should be taken against them, if any. The officers will be dealt with
on a case-by-case basis, Riley said. That process is expected to take
at least four months.
The officers under review fall into two categories: those
didn't report to duty as the storm hit and those who left without
permission during the tumultuous aftermath.
Some of those who didn't report may have found themselves
floodwaters or, in the case of officers who were out of town, unable to
return because of the high water, Riley said. Others were at their
posts as Katrina swept ashore, but later left without notifying their
"Some went to check on their families. Some went to check on
homes," Riley said. "Many of them returned within two or three days,
some didn't return for 10 or 12 days. But we still have a problem with
that because they should have been here and they left without
Another 13 officers are under investigation concerning
possible looting, Riley said.
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the nonprofit Metropolitan
Commission, said the ongoing attrition should not come as a surprise
given the scale of the disaster. In fact, the losses ultimately could
make the force stronger, he said.
"Hurricane Katrina was a tremendous gut-check for the
Goyeneche said. "They've now seen up close and under the most trying
circumstances who is really devoted to the city. One of the things the
department always does in hiring is put applicants through
psychological testing, but there's no substitute for seeing someone
perform in a crisis. Ultimately, this could be a real uniting event for
this police force."
KEEPING ITS HEAD ABOVE WATER
New Orleans faces
By ERIC BERGER
Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle Science Writer
Dec. 1, 2001, 1:35AM
New Orleans is sinking.
And its main buffer from a hurricane, the protective Mississippi River
delta, is quickly eroding away, leaving the historic city perilously
close to disaster.
So vulnerable, in fact, that earlier this year the Federal Emergency
Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among
the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country.
The other two? A massive earthquake in San Francisco, and, almost
prophetically, a terrorist attack on New York City.
The New Orleans hurricane scenario may be the deadliest of all.
In the face of an approaching storm, scientists say, the city's
less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or
more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under
20 feet of water. Thousands of refugees could land in Houston.
Economically, the toll would be shattering.
Southern Louisiana produces one-third of the country's seafood,
one-fifth of its oil and one-quarter of its natural gas. The city's
tourism, lifeblood of the French Quarter, would cease to exist. The Big
Easy might never recover.
And, given New Orleans' precarious perch, some academics wonder if it
should be rebuilt at all.
It's been 36 years since Hurricane Betsy buried New Orleans 8 feet
deep. Since then a deteriorating ecosystem and increased development
have left the city in an ever more precarious position. Yet the problem
went unaddressed for decades by a laissez-faire government, experts
"To some extent, I think we've been lulled to sleep," said Marc
Levitan, director of Louisiana State University's hurricane center.
Hurricane season ended Friday, and for the second straight year no
hurricanes hit the United States. But the season nonetheless continued
a long-term trend of more active seasons, forecasters said. Tropical
Storm Allison became this country's most destructive tropical storm
Yet despite the damage Allison wrought upon Houston, dropping more than
3 feet of water in some areas, a few days later much of the city
returned to normal as bloated bayous drained into the Gulf of Mexico.
The same storm dumped a mere 5 inches on New Orleans, nearly
overwhelming the city's pump system. If an Allison-type storm were to
strike New Orleans, or a Category 3 storm or greater with at least 111
mph winds, the results would be cataclysmic, New Orleans planners said.
"Any significant water that comes into this city is a dangerous
threat," Walter Maestri, Jefferson Parish emergency management
director, told Scientific American for an October article.
"Even though I have to plan for it, I don't even want to think about
the loss of life a huge hurricane would cause."
New Orleans is essentially a bowl ringed by levees that protect the
city from the Mississippi River to its south and Lake Pontchartrain to
the north. The bottom of the bowl is 14 feet below sea level, and
efforts to keep it dry are only digging a deeper hole.
During routine rainfalls the city's dozens of pumps push water uphill
into the lake. This, in turn, draws water from the ground, further
drying the ground and sinking it deeper, a problem known as subsidence.
This problem also faces Houston as water wells have sucked the ground
dry. Houston's solution is a plan to convert to surface drinking water.
For New Orleans, eliminating pumping during a rainfall is not an
option, so the city continues to sink.
A big storm, scientists said, would likely block four of five
evacuation routes long before it hit. Those left behind would have no
power or transportation, and little food or medicine, and no prospects
for a return to normal any time soon.
"The bowl would be full," Levitan said. "There's simply no place for
the water to drain."
Estimates for pumping the city dry after a huge storm vary from six to
16 weeks. Hundreds of thousands would be homeless, their residences
The only solution, scientists, politicians and other Louisiana
officials agree, is to take large-scale steps to minimize the risks,
such as rebuilding the protective delta.
Every two miles of marsh between New Orleans and the Gulf reduces a
storm surge -- which in some cases is 20 feet or higher -- by half a
In 1990, the Breaux Act, named for its author, Sen. John Breaux, D-La.,
created a task force of several federal agencies to address the severe
wetlands loss in coastal Louisiana. The act has brought about $40
million a year for wetland restoration projects, but it hasn't been
"It's kind of been like trying to give aspirin to a cancer patient,"
said Len Bahr, director of Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster's coastal
The state loses about 25 square miles of land a year, the equivalent of
about one football field every 15 minutes. The fishing industry,
without marshes, swamps and fertile wetlands, could lose a projected
$37 billion by the year 2050.
University of New Orleans researchers studied the impact of Breaux Act
projects on the vanishing wetlands and estimated that only 2 percent of
the loss has been averted. Clearly, Bahr said, there is a need for
something much bigger. There is some evidence this finally may be
A consortium of local, state and federal agencies is studying a $2
billion to $3 billion plan to divert sediment from the Mississippi
River back into the delta. Because the river is leveed all the way to
the Gulf, where sediment is dumped into deep water, nothing is left to
replenish the receding delta.
Other possible projects include restoration of barrier reefs and
perhaps a large gate to prevent Lake Pontchartrain from overflowing and
drowning the city.
All are multibillion-dollar projects. A plan to restore the Florida
Everglades attracted $4 billion in federal funding, but the state had
to match it dollar for dollar. In Louisiana, so far, there's only been
a willingness to match 15 or 25 cents.
"Our state still looks for a 100 percent federal bailout, but that's
just not going to happen," said University of New Orleans geologist
Shea Penland, a delta expert.
"We have an image and credibility problem. We have to convince our
country that they need to take us seriously, that they can trust us to
do a science-based restoration program."
Commission for the Arts link
On Friday evening at 8PM in the Library...
b.1913, Poland, father of Westonite, with his "wheels," Boursin, France, 1930
most cordial invitation to you...from the WESTON COMMISSION FOR THE ARTS
TO CELEBRATE THEIR
HERITAGE IN PHOTO GALLERY EXHIBIT
are invited to participate in an all-town celebration of their
individual heritage as captured in early photography.
They are asked to submit a
treasured photograph of a relative - the older the
photograph, the better! An interesting pose
perhaps at the piano, in front of their place of business, or sitting
beside a fountain would be nice.
photograph will be labeled with the name of the person
pictured, the date of their birth and death, date and place where the
photo was taken, and the name and the relationship of the person
These framed photos
will be hung in the Community Room and will remain on view from
November 18 through 27 with a Gala Reception scheduled on
November 18, 8:00 pm. to which all Westonites are invited!
The event will be sponsored by the Weston Commission for the Arts.
We will be accepting
last minute submissions on THURSDAY EVENING at 6pm in the Community
Room of the library!
Hors d'oeuvres and desserts
NOVEMBER 18, 8:00 PM
Room, Weston Library
are most cordially invited!
On Sunday afternoon at 3PM in the historic and beautiful Town
AT TOWN HALL...
The playwright, at Town Hall for reading of "Miss Crandall's Classes" -
hear it now and be in the know when it hits Broadway later!
Catherine Gropper of Weston
tell the story of the Connecticut heroine Prudence Crandall who, in the
1830s, opened her academy to black women thus advocating the right to
an education for all women in America.
NOVEMBER 20, 3:00pm
Town Hall, 56 Norfield Road
All are cordially invited!
following. Call 454-4774 for info.
by the Weston Commission for the Arts
Gerda Da Rif - Art Opening -
breaks all (unofficial) records for turn-out!!! Must see!!!
Weston Public Library - 56 Norfield Road
Champagne Reception was
Sunday, October 30, 2005, 4-6pm
Exhibit through November 12th.
The Weston Commission for the Arts
The Weston Historical Society
JONES in CONCERT - Nationally renowned flute
exhilarating, he's vibrant! Don't miss this fabulous event!"
An evening of Bach,
Mozart, Saint-Saens, Hasse, Charminade, Coleridge-Taylor
SATURDAY, October 22,
7:30pm at the Weston Library
Sponsored by the Weston Commission for
the Arts. FREE!
Available thru bookstores...Barnes and Nobles and the
Historical Society...a great read, in our opinion!
Lecture and book signing at Weston
Library Saturday, June 25, 2005 - all seats taken to hear the dramatic
three water company land schemes (2 recent) a half-century apart!
Cablevision Channel 79 Town TV will be showing "un-cut version"
beginning Friday, July 29 - an edition of "About Town" (this show to
run for three weeks Friday and Saturday from 5:30-6pm on Cablevision
RITES OF SPRING DANCE FESTIVAL 2005, WESTON TOWN HALL 'GREENSWARD'...
on CABLEVISION CHANNEL 77 at 1PM Mondays ("Part One") and Tuesdays
THE WESTON COMMISSION FOR
THE ARTS' 15th 'RITES OF SPRING DANCE FESTIVAL', MAY 15, 2005, 3
(Westport NEWS photo)
PROGRAM AND POST-EVENT PRESS:
Lisa Lindsay Daugherty,
Peg Bisceglie's dancers; Skidmore College student Sasha Lehrer
"Ball Dance" - part of a tribute to Isadora Duncan by the Isadora
International Institute. The sun came out (finally) on a
series of performances by Isadora Duncan International Institute,
by Jeanne Bresciani, Ph.D.
(Margaret Wirtenberg, photos)
Sculpture by Andrew Reiss
depicting Spring growth:
(Sculpture courtesy of Hamilton's Landscaping.com).
Young People's Creative Dance
huddles for final words of wisdom in Town Hall...Isadora Duncan dancers
warm up in the Town Hall Meeting Room--where they would have performed
had it rained...
Commission, crowd and dancers
foreboding weather - Dancers Co-op, with lead dancer Liz Coprio Gary
having emerged from dormancy within the Andrew Reiss sculpture, set a
course for the afternoon!
(Weston Forum photo)
Dance Group of
Swarthmore College (pictured above) made the dance funny, satiric and
of 200+ plus
and videographers cluster by the wall at the Town Hall
looks as if had been designed for just this event!!!
Published: Sunday, May 15, 2005
Mount Rainier could be the
next to erupt
By Rebecca Cook, Associated Press
the shadow of Mount
a father pushes his son on a squeaky swing set. A small dog sleeps
in the middle of a dead-end road. The tall firs lining the main street
whisper in the spring breeze.
St. Helens' current
It's currently at the second highest alert level. This indicates
concern about hazards but not an imminent life- or property-threatening
event. Under current conditions, small, short-lived explosions may
ash clouds that rise to 30,000 feet. Ash from such events can travel
miles downwind. Is it going to erupt? By geologic standards, the
has been erupting since October, but scientists aren't sure if another
large eruption is coming. So far, the mountain has emitted steam and a
little ash. A major eruption could produce a flow of superheated rock
ash that destroys anything in its path, as in 1980. Can people visit
volcano? The mountain can be viewed from several places, including
Ridge Visitor Center, about seven miles away, and the Johnston Ridge
five miles away, which has a stunning view into the crater. Current
and restrictions are posted at www. fs.fed.us/gpnf/ recreation/current-
day, the peaceful hush of
small town will be broken by a rumble that sounds like a thousand
trains. If everything works right, sirens will wail and the town's
residents will have 45 minutes to evacuate - or be buried by an
of mud and debris tumbling off the flank of Mount Rainier.
know Mount Rainier,
active volcano, will one day reawaken as Mount St. Helens did in 1980.
It could gradually build up and explode, or part of it could simply
perhaps with little or no warning. It could happen in 200 years, or it
could happen tonight.
get burned by these
of events because they think it can't happen in their lifetime," said
Geological Survey volcano expert Willie Scott. "We can't rule out a
of troublesome size being generated almost at any time."
mudflow would likely be
indeed for Orting. Two rivers, the Carbon and the Puyallup, drain off
mountain, hug the town and converge just beyond it, putting Orting
in the mountain's strike zone. The town was built atop a 500-year-old
that buried the valley 30 feet deep.
crews working on
housing developments for Orting's growing population have dug up
tree stumps - the remnants of a forest buried there the last time Mount
USGS ranks Mount Rainier as
third most dangerous volcano in the nation, after Kilauea on Hawaii's
Island and St. Helens, both of which are currently active. Other
call Rainier the most dangerous volcano in the world, not just for its
explosive potential but because of the 3 million people who live in the
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area. At least 100,000 people live
on top of old Rainier mudflows that have solidified.
could strike in at
three different ways. The mountain could go through a Mount St.
buildup, with magma rising in the mountain's core and then literally
Rainier's top and sending mudflows crashing down on the valleys
Or the magma could build up inside the mountain and never explode, but
trigger mudflows by weakening the rock and melting the glaciers lacing
part of the mountain could
collapse without any magma buildup, weakened by centuries of hot,
liquid coursing through the rock. Scott said the west flank of Rainier,
overlooking the Puyallup River valley, is the oldest part of Mount
and thus the most likely to collapse.
In any case, rock and mud would
mix with melted glaciers to create a flow the consistency of concrete
moving as fast as 50 miles per hour. The mudflow would sweep down the
picking whatever was in its way.
of the mudflows from Mount
were triggered by an eruption, Scott said. But the most recent, the
mudflow that buried Orting 500 years ago, didn't seem to follow that
it was just a gradual
Scott said. "That one sort of keeps us honest."
5,600 years ago, the
mudflow blanketed about 200 square miles northwest of the mountain. The
flows reached as far north as Kent, a Seattle suburb, and drained west
into Commencement Bay, now the site of the Port of Tacoma.
risk of catastrophe every
of thousand years hasn't stopped brisk development on ancient mudflows.
But as scientists identified Rainier as a threat in the decades after
St. Helens' eruption, government officials and citizens have begun
week, federal, state and
officials gathered at Fort Lewis for an exercise called Cascade Fury
- simulating the emergency response to an earthquake, eruption and
mudflow from Mount Rainier. Later this month, Orting schools will
a drill familiar to most students by now, evacuating and walking two
to higher ground.
Morrison has been
for years to make that walk faster and easier. He wants to build
and a path so Orting students can evacuate to a bluff about a half-mile
away, rather than hightailing it across town. This year's state
includes $1.7 million to start engineering and planning for the
Morrison hopes to get more money from the federal government and
donors to finish the "Bridge for Kids."
locals have welcomed his
while others roll their eyes.
keep talking about that
I'm sick of hearing about it," said James Nunnally, 69. He'd rather see
the state spend money on roads to handle Orting's growing number of
than on a pedestrian bridge.
a farce," Nunnally said.
Mount Rainer in distance (one big
mountain looking out from our hotel room - Edgewater)!
Mount Rainier (background)
looms behind Mount St. Helens in September. The U.S. Geological Survey
ranks Mount Rainier as the third most dangerous volcano in the nation
Mount St. Helens and Hawaii's Kilauea.
St. Helens is just one in
1,000-mile chain of more than 30 volcanoes. Here are some of the other
inactive for 100,000 years.
Glacier, 7,389 feet,
Mountain, 8,790 feet,
Cayley, 7,838 feet,
Garibaldi, 8,787 feet,
Baker, 10,778 feet,
Peak, 10,541 feet,
Rainier, 14,411 feet,
Adams, 12,276 feet,
Hood, 11,245 feet, future
Jefferson, 10,495 feet,
Sisters area: North
10,085 feet, probably extinct for 100,000 years; Middle Sister, 10,047
feet, may be inactive; South Sister, 10,358 feet, future activity
Broken Top, 9,175 feet, inactive for probably 100,000 years; and Mount
Bachelor, 9,065 feet, future activity likely.
Caldera, 7,985, future
Thielsen, 9,178 feet,
McLoughlin 9,495 feet,
Mazama-Crater Lake, 8,156
future activity possible
HISTORY LESSON FROM I-BBC...
high between East Asian neighbours China and Japan. China accuses Japan
of failing to repent for historical wrongs, while Japan accuses China
dwelling on the past.
the talk of the past there are also fears and ambitions for the future.
towards economic parity with the Japanese heavyweight, competition for
resources and markets is growing. Both wish to match their economic
with leading roles in world diplomacy. Both are anxious to take maximum
advantage of a rapidly changing regional power balance...
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
According to the files of the New
London DAY, UTOPIA project (at left) proposed for the former Norwich
between Route 12, lower right, and the eastern shore of the Thames
The Mohegan Sun casino, top, is located almost directly across the
And on a new page here, please
read story of Mohegan Sun expansion plan!
come no filibuster on drilling in Arctic? Because opponents
want to, or would not be able to, justify holding the federal budget
(to which this provision was attached) hostage. House-Senate
Committee on budget bill may have the last word.
and I-BBC of tsunami;
See the before and after picture in Indonesia; U.S. Government
rules being promulgated need comment from volunteer
EMS! New bill in CT (one "free" ambulance [not requiring
assessment" by State]): may not get anythere this session - HB
Death Toll From Indonesia Tsunami Hits 659
Published July 22 2006, 7:17 AM EDT
PANGANDARAN, Indonesia -- The death toll from the Indonesian tsunami
earlier this week rose to 659 after emergency workers reached a
previously inaccessible area along Java island's southern coast, the
government said Saturday.
Drajat Santosa, an official at the government's National Disaster
Management Coordinating Board, said nearly 100 bodies were found in a
part of Ciamis district that had been cut off by a broken bridge.
The toll climbed to 659 with 330 others missing, he said. Previously,
the government said 547 had been killed.
A powerful earthquake on Monday sent towering waves crashing into a
110-mile stretch of Java's southern coast, destroying scores of houses,
restaurants and hotels. Cars, motorbikes and boats were left mangled
amid fishing nets, furniture and other debris.
Copyright © 2006
I-BBC 18July 2006
Search for Java tsunami survivors
Rescue workers are searching for survivors of a tsunami that struck
Java, killing at least 341 people. Nearly 230 people are missing
and many thousands of others have been displaced, Indonesian officials
hits Indonesia's Java, death toll nears 40
By Achmad Sukarsono
July 17, 2006
JAKARTA (Reuters) - A tsunami
triggered by a strong undersea earthquake off the southern coast of
Java island swept away buildings at an Indonesian beach resort on
Monday and killed nearly 40 people, an official and media reports
Tsunami hits Indonesia's Java, at least 5
By Achmad Sukarsono
July 17, 2006
JAKARTA (Reuters) - A strong undersea earthquake struck off the
southern coast of Indonesia's Java island on Monday, triggering a
tsunami that swept away wooden buildings and killed at least five
people, officials said. There were no reports of casualties or
damage in any other country. The search for victims was
continuing, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told a news
conference, adding that five people were known to have died.
"An earthquake has happened and then was followed by a tsunami on the
southern coast of Ciamis (regency)," he said.
"It has been reported to me that five people have been declared dead
and the search is still going on to find those who probably have been
swept away by the tsunami waves."
A tsunami warning for Java's southern coast and nearby Christmas
Island, to the south of the Indonesian archipelago, was issued by the
U.S.-based Pacific Tsunami
Warning Center. Police on Christmas Island, owned by Australia, said
there was no damage there. India also issued a warning for the
Andaman and Nicobar islands, which were badly hit by the 2004 tsunami,
but officials said there was no real threat. The Maldives, a low-lying
chain of islands to the southwest of India, also issued a warning.
A massive earthquake in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that left
170,000 people killed or missing in Indonesia's Aceh province. Tens of
thousands more died elsewhere, the majority in Sri Lanka, India and
Thailand. On Monday, a policeman at Pangandaran Beach near
Indonesia's Ciamis town, around 270 km (168 miles) southeast of
Jakarta, told Metro TV that six deaths had been recorded but the toll
could be much higher.
"Everything looks like a mess. Buildings on the southern coast have
been damaged. Only permanent buildings are still standing," said the
policeman, called Agus. The area is a popular local tourist spot
with many small hotels on the beach and is close to a nature
reserve. The waves washed away wooden cottages and kiosks lining
the shoreline facing the Indian Ocean, witnesses told local media.
"I think there will be a lot of fatalities because probably they are
buried under rubble. The road to the scene is covered by rubbish
brought by the waves," the policeman added.
"We were in panic and running. Almost an entire village was inundated
by water. All people were running to the mountain," a villager in the
area told Metro TV. A woman who said she was a witness had
earlier told Jakarta-based Radio Elshinta that waves came several
hundred metres inland at Pangandaran Beach. Hendri Subakti, head
seismologist at the West Java earthquake center, told Reuters the waves
were a maximum of 1.5 metres high. Some people were still fleeing
the coastal area hours later as rumours spread that there could be
another quake and tsunami.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had said the quake, which hit at
0819 GMT, was of 7.2 magnitude.
Indonesia's state meteorology and geophysics agency initially rated the
quake at 5.5 magnitude, but later changed that to 6.8, and said there
were two significant aftershocks. An official at the country's
main fixed line operator, Telkom, said the phone system in the area was
down. Some occupants of high-rise Jakarta buildings felt the
quake, which had an epicentre more than 40 kilometres under the Indian
Ocean 180 km off Pangandaran beach, and fled their offices.
Earthquakes are frequent in Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous
country. In May, an earthquake near the central Java city of Yogyakarta
killed more than 5,700 people.
Indonesia's 17,000 islands sprawl along a belt of intense volcanic and
seismic activity, part of what is called the "Pacific Ring of Fire."
The Pertamina state oil company's 348,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Cilacap
refinery was not affected by the quake and tsunami, a Pertamina
"The refinery is operating as usual. There were rising waves, but now
the water has receded," the official said.
Deadly Tsunami Reached Around the
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID,
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Last year's Sumatra tsunami focused its
and destruction on the lands around the Indian Ocean, but the great
wave traveled around the world and was recorded as far away as Peru and
The wave rose a massive 30 feet as it destroyed communities
around the Indian Ocean.
Tide gauges worldwide recorded its arrival from hours to a
its Dec. 26 start, and movement of the wave was also tracked by
satellite, according to a study appearing Thursday in Science Express,
the online edition of the journal Science.
A research team led by Vasily Titov of the Pacific Marine
Environmental Laboratory in Seattle reported that the wave moved in a
complex pattern as it circled the globe, guided by ocean floor ridges
that helped focus its energy in particular places.
The wave traveled several times around the globe before it
finally dissipated, Titov reported.
Wave heights recorded at Callao, Peru, 11,400 miles east of
epicenter of the quake that caused the wave, and at Halifax, Nova
Scotia, 14,400 miles west, were higher than at the Cocos Islands,
located just over 1,000 miles south of the quake, the team noted.
The unusually high waves so far from the quake site result
factors, the main east-west direction of the wave's energy and the
focusing mechanism of the deep-sea ridges, Titov's team reported.
The first tsunami wave arriving at the Cocos Islands peaked
12 inches, the team said. By contrast, waves arriving at Callao and
Halifax topped 20 inches, the team reported.
alert technology - the iron link
tsunami struck again next year, the technology would be ready but the
Kettlewell, BBC News science reporter
2006, the Indian Ocean should be fully kitted out with a brand new
tsunami early warning system.
of wave and pressure sensors, seismographs, data-crunching computers
orbiting satellites will cast a watchful eye over the ocean, looking
for any sinister changes.
devastating wave takes shape, a warning will fire off immediately and
should be able to predict where, when and just how hard the water will
only half the story. Even if the early warning system can be relied
to do its job, we still cannot breathe easy.
the Indian Ocean are often populated by poor communities who do not
access to modern technology. How is every lonely fisherman and every
dweller without a phone connection going to be warned in the event of
goes a long way but the final mile - leading right up to every door
the region - is by far the hardest.
some experts, the spanking new technology is the iron link in a
response drills in surrounding countries are not unachievable - indeed
many are working hard towards them - but they are likely to be on a
timetable than the high-tech installation.
struck again next year, the technology would be ready, but the people
doubt that the technical element of the warning system will work very
said Professor Bill McGuire, of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre,
has to be an effective and efficient communications cascade from the
centre to the fisherman on the beach and his family and the bar owners."
the tsunami early warning technology are steaming ahead.
is being co-ordinated by the UN with the help of scientists from all
the Indian Ocean. The final result will resemble the system already
in the Pacific Ocean, and will be able to pick up storm surges (big
caused by storms) as well as tsunami.
Ocean already has 15 sea level gauges, which broadcast information
changes in water swells. At the moment, they only generate data every
or so, which is clearly far too infrequent for effective tsunami
upgrade, these sensors will send sea-level updates every three minutes.
instruments will be able to measure sea level accurately and also
it at a faster rate to international centres," said Patricio Bernal, of
the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's
(Unesco) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
this to be complete within the next few months."
will be to install a series of pressure gauges, which sit under the sea
and monitor the weight of water on top of them. They transmit data to a
buoy floating on the surface, which relays the information to a
that alerts a computer in an international early warning centre.
gauges are expensive pieces of equipment - each buoy unit costs
(£160,000). The UN has not yet decided how many buoys will be
but it is likely to be several.
Ocean has several million dollars worth of early warning equipment and,
although nobody is able to put a figure on the Indian Ocean system, it
will probably be in the same ball-park.
sensors and seismographs will broadcast their information first to an
early warning centre and then on to national centres.
that the iron link ends. Although the UN is overseeing the technology
it will be up to individual governments to co-ordinate and plan their
is a lot to do there," admitted Dr Bernal. "Usually, emergency
is not very high on the list of priorities for most governments.
a tsunami is only a fraction of the problem - the big problem is how to
prepare societies and local populations so they can act appropriately
because the tsunami risk is actually extremely low, the important thing
is to take a multi-hazard approach - otherwise, over the years,
will fade. In other words, people will be taught how to behave in the
of a cyclone, earthquake, storm surge or tsunami.
a year, you see how the interest is fading," said Eva Vonn Oelreich,
of disaster preparedness at the humanitarian society. "That is why we
advocate a multi-hazard response."
with a high hazard risk will contain a series of volunteers. These are
the people who will be told first about an impending disaster and they
will inform their local population.
hand megaphones or whistles and will cycle around their villages
as a whole could be trained how to react to this warning through a
of live performances.
which suffers badly from cyclones, the preferred way to raise awareness
is through dramas," said Ms Vonn Oelreich.
perform as if in a disaster. You see women on their own rushing to get
to evacuation centres, which is very important because women cannot
go out alone and we need to show that in situations like this different
type of effort takes a long time to achieve results.
"It is an
job," said Ms Vonn Oelreich. "After three years you have solid work on
the ground, but it is not institutionalised unless you see it can work
for a 10-year period.
part can take eight months, but to build up to volunteer level will
longer. It will be quite a few years before the communities are trained
in alert signals and evacuation mechanisms."
Feb 15, 2:46 PM EST
Houses 600 Tsunami Survivors
By CHRIS BRUMMITT
Associated Press Writer
ACEH, Indonesia (AP) -- A
hundred tsunami survivors traded their cramped and dirty tents for
barracks with kitchens and latrines Tuesday in a sign that aid pouring
into this province is shifting away from emergency relief toward more
100,000 people in the
Aceh province have been living in tents in overcrowded camps, many
on ground still swampy from the tsunami since soon after the Dec. 26
600 of them on Tuesday
the first to move to government-provided wooden barracks-style
said Totok Pri, a coordinator for Indonesia's public works department.
buses filled with the
arrived in the camp on the outskirts of Banda Aceh, the devastated
capital, and began unpacking their meager belongings in the 10 homes.
can accept moving to the
center because the place looks like a house and not a tent," said
29-year-old survivor whose parents were killed. "I am no longer worried
that I might get evicted."
new housing in Indonesia
a larger shift in aid priorities among donor nations that rushed to
the nearly dozen nations affected by the tsunami, but more than six
later are focusing on longer-term reconstruction...
Feb 1, 2005 12:35 PM EST
Selects Clinton for
NATIONS (AP) --
Kofi Annan has selected former President Clinton to be the U.N. point
for tsunami reconstruction and ensure that the world doesn't forget the
immense needs of the countries devastated by the Dec. 26 disaster, a
U.N. diplomat said Tuesday.
spokesman Fred Eckhard
to confirm the appointment but said "a statement will be released on
subject by my office in the next few hours."
U.N. diplomat, speaking on
of anonymity, said the appointment of Clinton as Annan's top envoy for
the rehabilitation of tsunami-devastated countries would expand on the
former president's current efforts to raise money in the United States.
after the disaster,
Bush named Clinton and his father, President George H.W. Bush, to head
a nationwide private fund-raising effort to help countries devastated
the deadly wall of water that killed more than 157,000 people and
millions of others.
two ex-presidents have been
throughout the country raising money and Bush said last week they hope
to go to the tsunami-ravaged Indian Ocean region to illustrate the need
for continued financial help from Americans to rebuild the area. He
quake toll jumps again
I-BBC Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2005
has again raised its
of the number of people killed by December's earthquake and tsunami.
Minister Fadilah Supari
more than 220,000 people died or are missing, bringing the total killed
throughout the region to 280,000. A month after the disaster,
workers in Aceh province are still pulling corpses from the wreckage.
daily life is slowly
and the province's schools were reportedly set to reopen on
"One of the best things you can do for children is to establish a sense
of normalcy and routine," Save the Children spokeswoman Eileen Burke
Reuters news agency.
Supari told the BBC that
95,000 and 100,000 bodies had now been found and buried in Aceh and
Sumatra. But she added that another 133,000 people were still
Tsunami Death Toll Tops
Reuters, Wednesday, January 19,
By Jerry Norton and Dean Yates
ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters)
The global death toll from the Asian tsunami shot above 226,000
after Indonesia's Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of tens of
of people previously listed as missing.
ministry raised the
death toll to 166,320. It had previously given a figure of 95,450 while
Indonesia's Ministry of Social Affairs had put the death toll at around
115,000 before it stopped counting.
Indrasanto, a director at
health ministry's department of health affairs, said the new death
reflected the latest reports from the provinces of Aceh and North
which were directly in the path of the killer tsunami spawned by a
9 earthquake the day after Christmas.
new figure lifted the total
death toll from the tsunami disaster to 226,566, although the number
to rise as more deaths are reported around the region.
Yudhoyono, speaking before the health ministry released its latest
told a donors conference in Jakarta that the true extent of the
we will never know the
scale of the human casualties," he said...
of Disease Fades, But
By Jeff Franks and Karima Anjani,
Friday, January 14, 2005
ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters)
The threat of disease decimating survivors of Asia's tsunami has
but aid agencies are remaining on their guard, the U.N. said on Friday
as doctors reported children dying from pneumonia.
found almost 4,000
bodies of tsunami victims, taking the global death toll from the
above 160,000. Despite that increase, signs of recovery were emerging.
was starting to return to
in towns and villages on battered Indian Ocean coasts with markets
and fishermen casting their nets at sea again after the Dec. 26
and the tsunami that it triggered...
Press Release Source: NASA
NASA Details Earthquake Affects
on the Earth
Monday January 10, 11:26 am ET
-- NASA scientists using data from the Indonesian earthquake calculated
it affected Earth's rotation, decreased the length of day, slightly
the planet's shape, and shifted the North Pole by centimeters. The
that created the huge tsunami also changed the Earth's rotation.
Dr. Benjamin Fong Chao, of NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. and Dr. Richard Gross of
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. said all earthquakes have
affect on Earth's rotation. It's just they are usually barely
worldly event that
the movement of mass affects the Earth's rotation, from seasonal
down to driving a car," Chao said.
and Gross have been
calculating earthquakes' effects in changing the Earth's rotation in
length-of-day as well as changes in Earth's gravitational field. They
study changes in polar motion that is shifting the North Pole. The
North pole" was shifted by about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in the
of 145 degrees East Latitude. This shift east is continuing a long-term
seismic trend identified in previous studies.
also found the earthquake
the length of day by 2.68 microseconds. Physically this is like a
skater drawing arms closer to the body resulting in a faster spin. The
quake also affected the Earth's shape. They found Earth's oblateness
on the top and bulging at the equator) decreased by a small amount. It
decreased about one part in 10 billion, continuing the trend of
making Earth less oblate.
make a comparison about the
that was shifted as a result of the earthquake, and how it affected the
Earth, Chao compares it to the great Three-Gorge reservoir of China. If
filled the gorge would hold 40 cubic kilometers (10 trillion gallons)
water. That shift of mass would increase the length of day by only 0.06
microseconds and make the Earth only very slightly more round in the
and flat on the top. It would shift the pole position by about two
researchers concluded the
earthquake caused a length of day (LOD) change too small to detect, but
it can be calculated. It also caused an oblateness change barely
and a pole shift large enough to be possibly identified. They hope to
the LOD signal and pole shift when Earth rotation data from ground
and space-borne position sensors are reviewed.
researchers used data from
Harvard University Centroid Moment Tensor database that catalogs large
earthquakes. The data is calculated in a set of formulas, and the
are reported and updated on a NASA Web site.
massive earthquake off the
coast of Indonesia on December 26, 2004, registered a magnitude of nine
on the new "moment" scale (modified Richter scale) that indicates the
of earthquakes. It was the fourth largest earthquake in one hundred
and largest since the 1964 Prince William Sound, Alaska earthquake.
devastating mega thrust
occurred as a result of the India and Burma plates coming together. It
was caused by the release of stresses that developed as the India plate
slid beneath the overriding Burma plate. The fault dislocation, or
consisted of a downward sliding of one plate relative to the overlying
plate. The net effect was a slightly more compact Earth. The India
began its descent into the mantle at the Sunda trench that lies west of
the earthquake's epicenter. For information and images on the Web,
the details on the Sumatra,
Earthquake, visit the USGS Internet site:
information about NASA and
programs Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov
visits area wiped out by
By Mark Ginocchio, Stamford
January 9, 2005
the devastation of
Aceh, Indonesia, introduced U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays to the
not something to be
Shays, R-Bridgeport, said during a telephone interview yesterday.
was a whole community that was just totally wiped out. No houses, no
compared the destruction
in the wake of the Asian tsunami, which has killed more than 150,000,
another grim day in modern world history.
my imagination this is what
or Nagasaki must have looked like," he said, referring to the Japanese
cities destroyed by U.S. atomic bombs at the end of World War II.
was part of a
congressional delegation that left for Indonesia Wednesday. The group
spent the past few days traveling across the northern tip of Sumatra by
helicopter, surveying the damage and aid needs for the region.
death toll for Indonesia
have met with
leaders and refugees, as well as volunteers from Australia, Great
and other parts of Asia. They plan to travel to Thailand and Sri Lanka
in the next few days before returning to the United States Wednesday.
the past decade, Shays, who
chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and
International Relations, has traveled to other devastated areas , such
as Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. But the magnitude of the tsunami is still
for Shays to describe, even after being there for a few days.
Powell told me it was
nothing he's ever seen and he's seen a lot," Shays said, referring to
secretary of state's recent visits to the region. "I've seen a lot of
too . . . But this? I've just never seen anything like that."
was most shocking to Shays
how parts of the island left untouched by the tidal wave looked
with the tip of Aceh province.
other side of the island
like a thriving metropolis," he said. "The contrast was clear."
he returns home next week,
said he will discuss his experience with Save the Children, a
international development nonprofit organization. As a lead sponsor of
a proposed law that would authorize funds to protect women and children
in humanitarian emergencies, Shays said he was concerned for the
of children orphaned in the region and vulnerable to sexual
been great on all fronts
far as Save the Children is concerned," said Carol Miller, associate
president for public policy and advocacy for Save the Children. She
that it is great "to have someone in the U.S. government in a senior
position who wants to make sure that children are protected during
rehabilitation of Southeast
"is a long-term thing and could take a decade-plus," Shays said, who
noted that more than 400 schools were wiped away.
have to start from
Nothing was salvageable," he said.
also defended accusations
U.S. relief has been too stingy.
think that was very unfair
not true," he said. "There is no question that there has been a sense
urgency and crisis and that the U.S. is playing a major role and
major financial assistance."
also said there has been
shortage of support from his constituents in lower Fairfield County.
person called me and said
wanted to give $100,000," he said. "I think it's good for these people
to see American faces. It's good to know that we care for so many
Kofi Annan wants pledges of
immediate aid for tsunami survivors
6 Jan. 2005 I-BBC
World leaders have pledged to set
up an Indian Ocean early warning system which could save lives in the
of a repeat of December's tsunami.
declaration signed at the end
the aid conference in Indonesia also calls on the UN to mobilise the
community for the relief effort.
Secretary General Kofi Annan
donors at the conference to convert aid pledges into $1bn cash for
use. Global pledges exceed $3bn but promises have not always come
good in the past. More than 140,000 people are now known to have
died in the disaster, and hundreds of thousands more are homeless...
warning technology -
By Julianna Kettlewell, BBC News
6 Jan. 2005
Pacific system works in
a simple way...There is a sense of helplessness and soul-searching
the tsunami last week that killed more than 140,000 people.
nations have turned their attention to exploring how such massive loss
of life might be prevented in future.
summit has now decided to
a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. The high-tech
could detect tsunamis that are still miles out at sea.
how the warning system works
disaster strikes twice, it
buy time - enough time, perhaps, to save hundreds of thousands of
But unless you can warn people in remote areas, the technology is
no point in spending
the money on a fancy monitoring and a fancy analysis system unless we
make sure the infrastructure for the broadcast system is there," said
McFadden, chief scientist at Geoscience Australia, which has been
with designing an Indian Ocean system by the Australian government.
going to require a lot
work. If it's a tsunami, you've got to get it down to the last Joe on
beach. This is the stuff that is really very hard."
Pacific basin already has a
system and, when there was a rash of tsunamis in the 60s, it proved
The solution need not be high-tech. The Pacific system, which
tens of millions of dollars to install, works in quite a simple way. A
pressure sensor sits on the bottom of the ocean and measures the weight
of water above it.
a tsunami passes overhead
pressure increases and the sensor sends a signal to a buoy sitting on
sea surface. The buoy then sends a signal to a satellite, which
turn alerts a manned early warning centre. But, as Dr Whitmore
it: "The warning system is more than just a warning centre. You have to
have communication from the centre and then you need some sort of
that is really the hardest
getting a localised emergency response."
operator sitting in an early
centre in Jakarta might know about an impending tsunami, but how does
warn the fisherman in Sumatra, the sweet seller in Sri Lanka, the
on Nicobar island? In many of these places TV, radio, even a
is not an option.
many experts say the
challenge is to establish an effective infrastructure, which can reach
everybody - no matter how remote.
population must be
about tsunamis and how to respond when it comes," said Professor Bill
director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College
is also critical that the
chain in the communication cascade - from emergency managers to
- is efficient and effective."
it seems it was the
chain in the communication cascade that failed on Boxing Day. The truth
is people did know about the earthquake, they did know about the
threat, they just didn't know how to tell people.
warning system could save
say some experts
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre
in Hawaii picked up the earthquake. But despite the phone calls they
the emergency response in Asia did not exist.
computers in a Vienna
building also picked up the seismic activity. Computers at the
Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation are designed to monitor nuclear
anywhere in the world but, as a side-effect, they also detect
staff were on holiday, and the information was not sent to the
that needed it most.
everyone agrees an early
system is needed in the Indian Ocean. But the hard part will be
a way of informing every swimmer and every fisherman.
McGuire says that
the response infrastructure does need to be organised, it doesn't need
to be complex.
think sirens could play an
role," he told BBC News website. "Also, in Bangladesh they have
reduced casualties in cyclones by using officials on bicycles blowing
to get people to the cyclone shelters.
solution need not be
Water Key to Preventing
Illness (Jan. 3, '05, 7:08am EST)
By EMMA ROSS, AP Medical Writer
Indonesia - The key to
a health catastrophe emerging from the tsunami ruins will be basic
— clean water and toilets — medical officials said Saturday, reporting
no major disease outbreaks but warning the worst may be just around the
corner. Dirty drinking and washing water combined with lack of
sewage disposal, they said, are a recipe for explosive outbreaks of
diarrhea diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery, as well as
forms of hepatitis.
are the sort of diseases
could occur any time now," Dr. Michelle Gayer, an infectious diseases
at the World Health Organization, said Saturday. More than
people are reported dead and officials say the toll is likely to climb
as more bodies are found. Most of the victims were killed by the
tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake last
Sunday off Indonesia's coast.
the United Nations has
that disease may claim almost as many lives. Hospitals left
after Asia's killer tsunami haven't been swamped by severely injured
Most casualties either have light wounds or are dead. But sources
of clean water and sanitary toilets have been largely wiped out in many
areas by the devastation of the tsunami in Southeast Asia.
the region are caused by bugs in traces of feces, which can easily end
up in the mouth not only when people don't wash their hands before
or preparing food, but also if plates and utensils are washed in
water. A common way that such diseases get spread is by fetching
buckets of water from rivers and lakes where people bathe and defecate.
don't really know how the
is being supplied at the moment," Gayer said. "If it (smells and looks)
dirty, people tend to avoid it, but these organisms don't make the
things are completely
and they are reasonably easily preventable," Gayer said. "In this case
it's a massive logistical nightmare, but it is possible to do it."
to the World Food
there have been no reports of starvation in tsunami-stricken areas, and
experts say they don't expect a threat of starvation. There are food
in many areas, but not critical shortages. However, a nutrition
is emerging in the worst hit location at the northern tip of Sumatra,
Indonesian island nearest to the epicenter of the quake, said Dr. Georg
Petersen, the WHO representative in Indonesia.
is enough food coming in,
it's mostly rice and noodles, which is not enough, even in the short
to maintain the immune systems of the struggling survivors, he
Malnutrition increases vulnerability to infections. Efforts are under
Petersen said, to bring in more nutritious food, such as high-protein
bodies are not a disease
germs that cause the feared
diseases die with their host, or within hours afterward. Cholera can
a while, but most of the tsunami victims did not have cholera when they
died, so their bodies would not be a health threat. Medical
say there are no disease-causing byproducts from the decomposition of
second health hazard wave
likely come from malaria and dengue fever, spread by mosquitoes that
in stagnant water. Those illnesses, also life-threatening, are not
to show up for another three or four weeks because it is too early now
for the mosquitoes to proliferate and complete the cycle that spreads
impact of these two killers
also be stifled if shelters are sprayed with insecticides and if as
pools of water are eliminated as possible.
water and sanitation,
priorities include shelter, food and basic medical services so that if
people do get sick they can be treated quickly, reducing the risk that
diseases will spread. The United Nations Children's Fund is
much of the water and sanitation effort, preparing a mass distribution
of emergency health kits that include water purification tablets and
water containers called
which carry 2,640 gallons each, are on their way to the hardest hit
and technicians in water and sanitation are being drafted from around
water is not considered
after a while, especially because so many people need the water. The
goal is to find a dam or lake locally that can provide water that can
be chlorinated by the aid agencies, trucked to various locations in
bladders and distributed in a systematic way.
Hungry Crocodiles, False Tsunami Alert As Death Toll Soars Beyond
Colossal relief effort moves ahead
Indonesia— Pilots dropped food to Indonesian villagers stranded among
corpses Thursday, while police in a devastated provincial capital
looters of their clothing and forced them to sit on the street as a
to others. The death toll topped 119,000, and officials warned that 5
people lack clean water, shelter, food, sanitation and medicine.
delivered medical staff to Sri Lanka and body bags to Thailand, while a
Thai air base used by B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War was becoming
a hub for a U.S. military-led relief effort that will stretch along the
at a makeshift camp in a marriage hall said their children were going
“For the past few days we were at least getting food,” said Selvi, 35,
who uses one name. “Today, we didn't even get that because aid workers
fled the town after a fresh alert was issued this morning.”
alarm from the Indian government was just one of the new and sometimes
unexpected threats facing survivors. Sister Charity, a
nun rescued by an Indian navy ship from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
on Wednesday, said confused and hungry crocodiles were on the loose.
returning (to the ship), two or three crocodiles started coming toward
us. The navy officers had to fire their revolvers to ward off the
to protect us,” she told The Associated Press...
Dec. 30, 2004
Tsunamis possible, but unlikely along New England coast
it happen here?
livelihoods and the culture of the region tied to the sea, some area
are wondering if a tsunami like the one that killed thousands in Asia
hit coastal New England.
factors make that chance slim, according to University of New Hampshire
possibility but it's significantly more remote (than in the Indian or
oceans) because there are many fewer large earthquakes in the Atlantic
Ocean," said Jamie Pringle, a physical oceanographer at the UNH.
is that the Atlantic Ocean floor is in a different state than the
Ocean's, where plates of the earth can rub against each other and
earthquakes that in turn can cause tsunamis like the one that struck
earthquake originated that set off the tsunami is known as a subduction
zone where a piece of earth is riding over another plate," said Larry
a UNH professor of hydrology and water resources.
New Hampshire's Rye Beach, the underwater Mid-Atlantic Ridge on the
Ocean floor is susceptible to quakes, but the tremors are normally
by plates of the earth moving apart, according to Dingman.
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes a tsunami as a series
of waves moving at speeds of up to 600 mph across the ocean surface. In
addition to earthquakes, tsunamis can be caused by volcanic eruptions,
landslides and in rare scenarios, by meteors hitting the sea, according
to the force of a large ocean wave," Pringle said. "The bigger deal is
that it ends up in places where waves usually aren't."
been instances, such as in Portugal in the 1700s or Newfoundland in the
1920s, when tsunamis struck Atlantic Ocean communities, according to
Mayer, the director of UNH's Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping.
could be another factor making New England less susceptible, according
to Mayer. Several of the Asian nations devastated Sunday were at or
sea level. While New England has some low-lying areas, tsunami damage
be lessened because of higher elevation.
Alaska, a sea-level rise
The Indian Ocean tsunami caused the increase Monday.
By DOUG O'HARRA, Anchorage Daily
December 28, 2004
a colossal ripple racing
the world's seas, waves from the killer tsunami that devastated coastal
communities on the Indian Ocean leaked into the Pacific Basin, reaching
Alaska by early Monday morning.
four-inch uptick in sea level
recorded by a tide gauge in Sand Point along the Alaska Peninsula about
2 a.m., said Bill Knight, a scientist at the West Coast & Alaska
Warning Center in Palmer.
warning models had
a tiny wave would reach Alaska almost a day earlier, on Sunday morning,
but none was detected, Knight said.
wave might have arrived at
point but wasn't really big enough to stand out from the noise. So this
might have been a second wave."
other tide gauge in Alaska
a pulse that could be traced to the tsunami, but that doesn't mean more
waves didn't reach Alaska, Knight said.
surf and wind-driven
could easily have masked such small sea-level shifts.
small waves were observed
Pacific islands and on North America's West Coast over the weekend,
from a 2-inch wave in Hilo, Hawaii, to an 81/2-incher in San Diego, to
a 2-foot wave observed in New Zealand, according to a tsunami advisory
issued by the warning center early Monday morning.
biggest recorded impact in
Pacific Basin struck Manzanillo, Mexico, where the shape of the sea
produced a large wave measuring about 81/2 feet from trough to crest.
is the biggest thing to
in 40 years," Knight said.
like the one sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
in the Pacific, aren't created until after tragedy strikes, Knight said.
tend to forget about
because they don't occur every day," he said.
Richard H. Hagemeyer
Tsunami Warning Center was established in Hawaii after an Aleutian
or landslide generated a tsunami in 1946 that killed 165 people, most
them in Hilo. The West Coast & Alaska Tsunami Warning Center was
after Alaska's 1964 quake triggered tsunamis that killed at least 122
including victims in California.
think these sites are always
in response to a natural disaster," Knight said. "There certainly
been anything in history (in the Indian Ocean) that matches what we've
Tsunami possible here, but less
By Scott North, Everett WA Herald
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
- Could it happen here?
Snohomish County, with its
edge made up of beaches and bluffs overlooking Puget Sound, at risk of
one day being inundated by a massive tsunami similar to the one that
more than 22,500 people in Asia on Sunday?
answer is good news and bad
said Lee Hazlewood, homeland security manager with the Snohomish County
Department of Emergency Management.
tsunami spawned by the 1964
earthquake caused some damage on the Washington coast. Experts believe
it is unlikely that a wave kicked up by an earthquake beneath the
Ocean would travel far enough into Puget Sound to cause much damage
local beaches, Hazlewood said.
living here are at risk,
from waves caused by earthquakes or landslides into Puget Sound.
have found evidence
soil deposited by a tsunami at Cultus Bay on the south end of Whidbey
Deaths linked to that type of disaster also are part of the community's
seiche (pronounced sigh-shh), are an identified risk to people who live
along enclosed or partially enclosed bodies of water, such as Puget
are produced when a
containing water is shaken, causing waves to form. The process is
on a giant scale, to what happens when liquid sloshes over the lip of a
bucket when it is given a sharp jolt. Waves also can be formed when
slides into a basin, kicking up a wave.
of the Tulalip Tribes
of a horrific slide in the 1820s or 1830s that buried a summer village
on the south end of Camano Island. More than 100 people died in the
at Camano Head, which is said to have sent a wave up over much of
Hat Island, drowning still more.
historians believe the
was triggered by a powerful earthquake, but that was decades before
records were kept of seismic activity in the area.
a tsunami threatens, there
sometimes an opportunity to evacuate areas where the wave is predicted
to make landfall. That isn't the case with a seiche, which can make it
particularly deadly, Hazlewood said.
earthquake happens here
the tidal waves occurs," he said.
From the Hartford Courant:
`The Sea Stood Up'
December 27, 2004
India -- On a balmy
morning at Marina Beach, Brajita Poulose, 45, her husband, two sons and
four other relatives strolled along the shore in the sunshine, enjoying
the ocean breeze. Young men were playing cricket, joggers trotted past
food vendors, fishermen hauled in their nets. Then, without warning,
placid ocean turned violent.
was holding my cousin's
my two sons were walking behind me, and suddenly ... we saw a huge wave
coming at us," said Poulose, who lay exhausted in a hospital bed, as
eldest son, Jiyo, sat weeping at her side. "We did not have enough
water quickly rose to
shoulders, she recalled, and a torrent caused by a tsunami in the
Ocean swept her inland, across the main road along Marina Beach, a
ribbon of golden sand at the edge of this bustling commercial city in
state of Tamil Nadu.
29, tried to keep his
in sight, but the surging current pushed them apart. "In no time, I was
alone and I couldn't see anyone," he said. "It was one continuous wave."
caught up with her hours
at a government hospital. The bodies of his father and younger brother
Sebastian were in a nearby morgue. The rest of the family was missing.
Thailand - Cars, window
and chairs littered the sea. Pickup trucks were on top of walls. People
in shock, some blood-covered, were evacuated into the hills or packed
hospital wards of this popular southern Thai resort.
Ann Sophie Spetz, a holiday
of white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters had turned into a
was horrible," said Spetz,
Uppsala, Sweden, who was having breakfast on Kamala beach with her
when one of her three children raced over, crying out before the waves
touched down. "People had blood all over them and they screamed and
family followed other
tourists who were evacuated to the hills, staying for hours without
Locals brought them water, and finally they returned to the seaside to
eat, but their relief was short-lived.
Thai people came again and
`The waves are coming, the waves are coming,' and we threw down our
and ran into the hills again," said Spetz.
Schistad, 38, of Rognan,
said he did not know that tidal waves were pounding Kamala beach while
he and his relatives were swimming in the waters off Phi Phi island,
hundreds of boats sank and some 200 seriously injured people were
said the waters were
The only giveaway was the window panes and chairs floating in the
were wondering why there
so much trash in the sea," he said.
Indonesia - The most
earthquake in the past 40 years was felt first in Aceh on the northern
tip of Sumatra island, the Indonesian province closest to the undersea
shaking lasted for about
minutes. But what felt like mild swaying in further-flung cities across
Southeast Asia was violent in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital,
buildings and toppling the minaret on the centuries-old mosque that
after, rumors began
that water levels in the river that cuts through Banda Aceh's heart
rising, an aid worker in the city told his colleague in Jakarta, the
Flooding and quake damage then cut all links to the city.
hours later, at least
people had died in and around the stricken city, the Health Ministry
basing the figure on short-wave radio reports received from officials
Aceh, a city of about
people, was unusual in Sunday's disaster in that the quake caused many
of the deaths. Elsewhere, thousands died from flooding caused by huge
are fleeing their
in panic, and the talk is that the river is rising," said Arista Idris,
an official with the International Organization of Migration, quoting a
colleague in Banda Aceh.
late Sunday, they hadn't
from the colleague again.
also caused devastation
Sri Lanka, a teardrop-shaped island off the southern tip of India,
across roads and railroad tracks and pouring through coastal villages,
markets and beach resorts.
island is known for its
tropical forests, tea plantations and idyllic, crescent-shaped beaches.
It has experienced a tourist boom since government forces and rebels
the country's ethnic Tamil minority declared a cease-fire in 2002.
Buerk, a BBC
vacationing in Sri Lanka, was in bed in his hotel room in Unawatuna, a
resort town on the southwestern coast, when the waves struck. "We
heard some shouts from outside," he wrote on the BBC News website.
the water started coming under the door. Within a few seconds it was
and a companion pushed
the rushing water to a tree and climbed into its branches, but it
under the force of the current. "We were swept along for a few hundred
meters, trying to dodge the motorcycles, refrigerators, cars and other
debris that were coming with us. Finally, about 300 meters inshore, we
managed to get hold of a pillar, which we held onto, and the waters
gradually began to subside."
and cars in trees. He said he had counted four bodies, including two
Lankans - an elderly woman and a young woman - and a Western boy "who
to be about 5 years old."
Swati Thiyagarajan, described the wave to an NDTV reporter: "It was
like the sea stood up and walked to your door."
LUMPUR, Malaysia - Tidal
that struck villages on Malaysia's northwestern coast were a terrifying
experience for many people, even hardy fishermen and other residents
are accustomed to tropical downpours and regular monsoon flooding.
wedding ceremony turned into
when the reception became the site of a flash flood. A government
inspector lost his wife and four siblings when they were swallowed up
the sea during a beach picnic. Residents who parked their cars near
banks returned to learn their vehicles were swept away. Preschool
enjoying an afternoon dip in usually placid waters ended up drowning.
Post reports are included.
Rural Emergency Crews FearProposed
Dec. 28, 2004
By CURT WOODWARD, Associated Press
N.D. - The emergency
technicians in this town are familiar faces from the high school, the
clerk's office and the coal mine. And like many of their counterparts
the country, members of the Center squad are worried that proposed
standards could more than double the amount of training they must have
and thin their ranks.
lot of people can't
what it's like to drive 345 miles and not see a house, not see
and to have to cover that," said Mickie Eide, the squad's leader. "If
keep requiring us to do more, there's going to be less of us to do it."
are being developed for federal regulators by doctors, EMTs and state
medical directors. Supporters say more training requirements
ensure a better qualified national corps of emergency medical
But in rural areas where volunteer crews are the rule, many fear the
will limit the pool of new recruits and force experienced EMTs to drop
is one of the most
decisions that I have been involved in in EMS (emergency medical
in the last 20 years at the national level," said Bob Brown, director
the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. The goal
is a national standard that would guarantee highly trained workers in
across the nation, Brown said.
those ambulance people
up to your side following your incident, you want them to be the best.
Capitalize it — The Best," he said. "And those EMS workers want to be
best as well. But it's a bridge too far." The proposed
were designed to give EMTs the skills to treat conditions they commonly
encounter, said Bob Bass, the Maryland state emergency medical director
who sits on a national committee overseeing the reclassification
decided that an EMT could
more than we currently handle," he said. For example, the new
of training would allow EMTs to administer such emergency medications
epinephrine, a form of adrenaline given to people suffering severe
reactions. In North Dakota, basic-level EMTs need 110 hours of
to get their initial certification. To meet the new standards as
proposed, the state Emergency Medical Service Association estimates
basic EMTs would at least have to double that.
places like Center, a town
about 680 people, crew leaders think a change that steep could push
half their volunteers out of the service.
could even affect more,"
Eide, a teacher's aide who leads Center's ambulance crew. "We have
members that are between 10 and 15 years anyway, and are kind of
to cut back." Bass said the minimum requirements might increase,
but he said regulators may be able to eliminate some outdated sections
to make room for the new lessons.
think that the first draft
the flag up the pole," Bass said. "I think there's still a lot of work
to be done." North Dakota officials estimate that 90
of North Dakota's 140 ground ambulance services are staffed by
Many EMTs likely will find the new requirements too difficult to meet,
said Dean Lampe, director of the North Dakota EMS Association.
guys have jobs. They
at the Cenex store, they work at the butcher shop. They're farmers
to get their crops in," he said. Emergency medical services in
states have found similar problems. In Texas, officials estimate that
a third of the state's emergency medical providers are volunteers.
think that there would be a
of services that would have to make some major adjustments," said Pete
Wolf, chief of the volunteer fire department in the north Texas town of
comments on the plan are being accepted through January, and the group
drafting the rules is set for a new meeting in March.
sees benefits in national
but says a major increase in training requirements could hurt services
that already have trouble holding on to members for more than a few
fun and great and
Wolf said. "But after a couple of years, you start to look back and
and you have to feed your family as well."
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Internet Pirate Charged In Toilet
Bombings Plans To Plead Guilty
2:44 PM EST, January 18, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A Weston man once called one of the Internet's most
notorious pirates of music and movies plans to plead guilty to a
federal charge that he blew up a portable toilet last year, according
to court records filed Thursday.
Bruce Forest was charged last year with seven counts of using
explosives to destroy property and seven counts of discharging a
firearm in connection with a series of toilet explosions in 2005 and
No one was injured.
Under a plea agreement, Forest intends to plead guilty on Feb. 12 to a
charge that he blew up a toilet in Weston in February 2006, according
to court papers his attorney, Bernard Grossberg, filed Thursday.
Telephone messages were left Thursday for Grossberg and prosecutors.
"We're at a loss to explain why he was doing this, other than the
excitement of blowing things up," Weston Police Chief Anthony Land said
last year when Forest was arrested on state charges.
Forest is also asking to be released from prison so he can get medical
treatment. He proposes remaining in the custody of his wife and mother
under home confinement with electronic monitoring.
Under the proposed conditions of the release, Forest's home would be
subject to random searches and he would not be allowed to possess a gun.
Last year, U.S. Magistrate Holly Fitzsimmons ruled that Forest was too
dangerous to be released from prison and ordered him to undergo a
Fitzsimmons said that an arsenal of weapons was found at his home and
the charges involved "an escalating pattern of destruction." The judge
also cited evidence that Forest was using drugs or medications
illegally obtained over the Internet and told a neighbor he was working
for the government and was responsible for repelling any terrorist
attack on the neighborhood.
Most of the explosions occurred at night in isolated areas, but the
last blast in Norwalk occurred during the day in a heavily populated
area, authorities said. The explosives involved a mixture of chemicals,
Forest was being treated for anxiety, depression and migraine headaches
stemming from a fall that caused head trauma, according to a
court-appointed social worker.
Forest was a notorious Internet pirate in the late 1990s, said J.D.
Lasica, a San Francisco writer who dubbed Forest "Prince of the
Darknet" in his 2005 book "Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital
Flu story from I-BBC...