A long, hard summer

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  1. I had stayed away from the subject, because I figured that we’d just have to hope that next year we didn’t get anything worse than tropoical storm conditions–not much else we can do short term. But if the substandard materials assertion is correct, they’re not doing the little that they can do–the city could find itself flooded by a hurricane that hit Mobile or Galveston. The corps, or the adminstration, needs to do an audit. Somebody outside needs to do a follow the money investigation. If the substandard materials are being used because that’s what’s available, the Corps needs to be upfront about it so that we might consider deferring some repairs and some resettlement–yes, I know what that lead to. But I can’t help but suspect profiteering.

  2. It’s true that it usually takes years and multiple lifts of material to build a levee from scratch, but that’s not what is happening here. The ground that the Corps is building on is already consolidated because of the levees that stood there for many years. And the material that is being barged in is not as wet as local material, so it can be placed and compacted quickly. When you dig wet clay out of the adjacent ground, it has to sit for months and months before it dries out enough to be compacted. Yes, they are rushing things, but no one stands to profit if these levees fall apart at the first splash of water.
    I do, however, share your concern that people are being encouraged to move back and rebuild in the same places at the same elevations. Even if the Corps meets its deadline and builds perfect levees, they are only being replaced to the exact same elevations as they were before Katrina. So New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth and all of St. Bernard will be just as dangerous if another big storm comes our way. Water will once again flow right over those levees if we get a large enough storm surge. And the forecast, based on water temperatures in the Gulf, is not optimistic.

  3. I will take great heat for this, but I’ve been thinking of blogging it for a while now. The USACoE needs to stop work in NOLA East and St. Bernard–particularly the latter where the system completely collapsed, and focus on the core NOLA-East Jeff levees, then return to St. Bernard and the East next year.
    Yeah, that’ll be a popular suggestion. I best make that one while I’m still far enough away to not worry for my life.

  4. Hi, my name is Wakako. I am a student from Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA). Group of students is working on project for New Orleans….and we’re focusing on Lower 9th ward. In a nut shell, using our proposal, we are trying to encourage displaced residents of lower 9th ward to be involved in decision making and rebuilding process. We’re updating daily activities on our blog: http://projectlowerninth.blogspot.com
    If you have time, please check out what we’re doing;) we’re trying to spread the word that we’re doing this!!!to original lower 9th residents.

  5. Tim has, as always, provided the engineering voice of reason. I appreciate his explanation of the underlying base to the existing levees, and also the advantages of the dryer clay.
    Evidently, we have a consensual worry about the risks. This would, of course, be one of the strongest arguments there were for waiting before “rushing” to rebuild in some of the most exposed parts of town, although after six hard months, I’m sure nothing seems rushed to displaced residents.
    This coming hurricane season is a real roll of the dice, unfortunately. And there’s a Catch 22: if the city floods in another storm, it will be the city officials who will take the blame, because they could not get off the fence and make the hard decisions about delaying in certain areas.

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