Katrina scenario all too accurately forecasted
Here's a description of the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans:
Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.
When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet.
The frightening part of this quote is that it was written last September in a National Geographic article about Louisiana's endangered wetlands titled "Gone With The Water." This kind of catastrophe has been predicted for years, yet it still came to fruition. This article is scary in how accurately it describes what Katrina did to New Orleans, and there are many other articles like it that forecast the dangers that faced the city. And don't look now, but we're only starting to get into the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season.
I do research in the civil engineering field and it was an accident just waiting to happen. However, politics got in the way and none of the precautionary measures were taken.
Many people have the misconception that New Orleans was built below sea level. This is not true. When the city was founded, it was actually several feet abouve sea level. The Mississippi river, over the course of many years, deposited sediment along the region where the city was built. Over time, this sediment piled up. With the lack of engineering knowledge at the time, this seemed like a great place to build a city. However, the weight of the growing city which was built on top of the sediment caused the city to begin sinking, and eventually got the the low spot of 8 feet below sea level.
You've probably heard about the rest on the news and from other sources (about the levies not being built to cat. 5 specifications). However, all the news makes it seem like no safety systems had been constructed.
The city, for a while, had large pumping stations all over the place to pump out rain water. Of course when it rains, the water would have nowhere to go if the surrounding water levels are higher. Drainage channels had been built as well. It was just a snowball effect of all of the safety systems failing that led to the catastrophe.
Just some information i found interesting and thought I would share with those who don't already know it.
Anyway, interesting article you pointed out there. It's always a shame when evidence points to these sorts of tragedies happening. But it seems to be human nature to wait until after a disaster to figure out what the problem was. A real shame.
*patiently awaits for RGA to talk about how Bush created the hurricane and wanted lots of black people to die*
My background is in city planning, so this calamity struck me pretty hard at both a personal and professional level. It's one of those classic cases of what the water gives, it just as easily takes away. New Orleans' entire reason for existence centers on its strategic location at the end of the Mississippi River, and in its effort to exploit that natural advantage to the max, the city was basically playing a game of chicken with nature.
Great cities will typically build around the dominant transportation technology of its time, and in the 17th Century that was water. New Orleans benefits from having access to waterways and a natural harbor, but New Orleans' relationship with mother nature cuts both ways as it does with so many other communities that take advantage of their strategic proximity to waterways.
Nowadays, we have the greater engineering and technological tools to more properly assess the type of development that's sustainable or even safe, but humans have always pushed the envelope with what they can extract from natural resources. So, even if we know the possible consequences, we don't always act accordingly. I mean, I'm one to talk -- I grew up in Los Angeles and live near San Francisco, can you say earthquake?
You're spot on with that info. Most of the great cities of today began as ports.
Originally Posted by Woochifer
Can you explain more about your city planning background? It would be interesting to know more about what you do
I'm currently doing waste-water research for the water utilities here, but I'm currently working towards my masters in Structural Engineering and plan to move towards that soon.
Sounds like your services will be much in demand as the affected region rebuilds!
Originally Posted by bjornb17
My background is all over the place, which is why I do city planning! (Perfect field of study for someone like me who can't figure out what he wants to focus in on) In high school, I got into design and interned at an environmental engineering firm, where I worked as a draftsman/graphic artist every summer throughout college as well. In college, I started as an engineering major and switched into sociology and urban studies, where I also studied social research and statistics. In grad school, my specialization was in land use and urban design, and I also took coursework in land use/environmental law, transit-oriented development, real estate economics, transportation planning, and advanced statistics.
My first job out of grad school was doing research for the California high speed rail project, then I got moved over to a couple of military base conversion projects. Nowadays, I do consulting in economic development planning, and work a lot on regional impact modeling. While I enjoy my work, sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I would just step back and buy a hot dog stand or ice cream truck!
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