Skip to comments.Pop. Mechanics: Now What? The Lessons of Katrina ("largest, fastest rescue effort in US history")
Posted on 03/02/2006 10:42:59 PM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast
The Lessons of Katrina
Published in the March, 2006 issue.
NO ONE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SURPRISED.
Not the federal agencies tasked with preparing for catastrophes. Not the local officials responsible for aging levees and vulnerable populations. Least of all the residents themselves, who had been warned for decades that they lived on vulnerable terrain. But when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, it seemed as though the whole country was caught unawares. Accusations began to fly even before floodwaters receded. But facts take longer to surface. In the months since the storm, many of the first impressions conveyed by the media have turned out to be mistaken. And many of the most important lessons of Katrina have yet to be absorbed. But one thing is certain: More hurricanes will come. To cope with them we need to understand what really happened during modern America's worst natural disaster. POPULAR MECHANICS editors and reporters spent more than four months interviewing officials, scientists, first responders and victims. Here is our report.--THE EDITORS
GOVERNMENT RESPONDED RAPIDLY
MYTH:"The aftermath of Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history."--Aaron Broussard, president, Jefferson Parish, La., Meet the Press, NBC, Sept. 4, 2005
REALITY: Bumbling by top disaster-management officials fueled a perception of general inaction, one that was compounded by impassioned news anchors.
In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's landfall.
Dozens of National Guard and Coast Guard helicopters flew rescue operations that first day--some just 2 hours after Katrina hit the coast. Hoistless Army helicopters improvised rescues, carefully hovering on rooftops to pick up survivors. On the ground, "guardsmen had to chop their way through, moving trees and recreating roadways," says Jack Harrison of the National Guard. By the end of the week, 50,000 National Guard troops in the Gulf Coast region had saved 17,000 people; 4000 Coast Guard personnel saved more than 33,000.
These units had help from local, state and national responders, including five helicopters from the Navy ship Bataan and choppers from the Air Force and police. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries dispatched 250 agents in boats. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state police and sheriffs' departments launched rescue flotillas. By Wednesday morning, volunteers and national teams joined the effort, including eight units from California's Swift Water Rescue. By Sept. 8, the waterborne operation had rescued 20,000.
While the press focused on FEMA's shortcomings, this broad array of local, state and national responders pulled off an extraordinary success--especially given the huge area devastated by the storm. Computer simulations of a Katrina-strength hurricane had estimated a worst-case-scenario death toll of more than 60,000 people in Louisiana. The actual number was 1077 in that state.
NEXT TIME: Any fatalities are too many. Improvements hinge on building more robust communications networks and stepping up predisaster planning to better coordinate local and national resources.
I have said all along that no one could have done any better, given the short time to assemble aid and the magnitude of the hurricane.
Let me guess, that's a hookah, or maybe an enlarged part of your body...
Well, I think it's mostly being busy + indifference + "who pays for it?" Have you ever come up with a new idea? Even before you are finished describing it, the listener is shooting it down. Why? Mental immune system, if everyone ran after every new idea all of ordered society would be chaos. So the HYPOCRISY is : we need NEW IDEAS to solve these problems(say flooding)and when you invent a solution you're ignored, fought, sued as if you were an invading virus, a terrorist threatening vested interests. So, let them drown, it's nature's way of culling the dumb ones(tomorrow's dirt); or as we say in Montana : you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink....And as Jesus said : lawyers, liars, pharisees, hypocrites : you load burdens on other men's backs but won't lift a finger to help, you are doubly damned...
It's a bong, and the body parts are some young female (googled image), obviously. I was responded to your idea of floating roadways. As a general contractor, I look at your idea as a pipe dream. It is impractical, at best, to implement, and foolish to think that the storms would just leave it in place, to settle back into a prior position.
I am from eastern NC (ILM). I've seen storms come, and roads go. It never leaves the beaches in the same locations they started. It is a natural, organic thing.
Maybe you should stick with other things, for your architecture practice...
Lightning was once the WRATH OF GOD upon sinners, until Ben Franklin came up with the lightning rod...No, the flood road will work if it's designed correctly. I've lived in Houston and saw what hurricane Alicia did to the beach road west of Galveston, this concept, with deep enough concrete walls on the landward side and dead man anchors will stop that type of hurriane storm surge damage cold. I'm the architect, you're the contractor, do you know the difference?
Sure I know the difference. I have actally been involved in building things. My NC General Contractors license is now dead, but I drew #22500, when it was issued. The numbers are over 100k now. It was a General category license, as opposed to a limited Residential offering. I have built houses and commercial structures. All of my houses have withstood storms on the beachfront, where they were erected.
I was also quality control for the concrete supplier for the Nuclear Power plant at Southport, NC. I was also the quality control guy for a number of bridge and road contracts, including the Cape fear River drawbridge. I have hands-on practical experience with execution.
You sit in a room with a drawing board/computer screen, and dream up things you THINK will work..
Your Rube Goldberg idea is exactly that. You may design things which look good on paper, or in scale models, but the actual execution would be prohibitively expensive (that 10% fee really adds up, doesn't it), and functionally dead after the first storm, no matter what your credentials.
Stick with things that can actually be produced. Your flood road wouldn't ever get off the ground (sic)! You can't pour enough concrete to stop a hurricane. You may slow the erosion, but it will erode!
I know all about architects. I even had one design a supporting glass wall... and assured me it would function. I refused the project, unless redesigned. They found another guy to build it, and sure enough...glass doesn't make for a supporting wall! But, what do I know...?
Ok, since you are a construction expert, price this out : a 20 ft high dirt levee that is useful .01% of the time as a flood barrier, vs a 8' deep concrete wall, w/ftg, w/hinged double layer 20'x20'steel panels(trusses between), tough rubber coating on top, deep set dead man anchors, that is a roadway 99.99% of the time. No bias now, an honest cost comparison....Kitty Hawk is also on the NC coast, yes? A century ago 2 brothers heard these same "it'll never work" objections about this strange contraption they were testing...
An 8 foot deep concrete wall would be undercut within a few minutes by a storm surge (ever heard of them). The wave interaction would then begin its destructive work on your "floating" roadway. Dead man anchors are good for a small project, but to rely on their stability along miles of roadway is not practical in the face of such reality.
There is a significant difference between making a proper airfoil on a lightweight frame, and constructing your "floating roadway". For an example of a hurricane's destructive power, look at the bridge across Lake Ponchartrain... or the beaches of NC after a storm...
I'm sure they were designed by an architect... sitting in a room with his pipe spewing smoke!
Your picture proves the point : the heavy concrete bridge sections FLOATED off of the support stanchions. If they had been tied down by piano hinges on one side they would have just floated up and then settled back down again. As to the depth of the concrete wall, it can be 8', 12', 20'...whatever depth is deemed necessary. The dead man anchors can be 20', 50', 100'...whatever is deemed necessary. But you are amoung the "fearful and unbelieving", even if I did it for you and yours for FREE you'd still be in denial(not the river in Egypt),so go ahead and drown, I'll read about it in the paper...one more expensive hurricane disaster that the whole country is expected to pick up the tab for...
I am almost ready to begin construction on my new home. It will be constructed of concrete walls, and floors. The front fascia will have lots of glass, in the form of a trombe wall. It is facing south. The roof is to be prestressed concrete twin-I beams 10 ft x 60 ft. The entire structure, when completed with have a total 23,000 sq ft of floor space obn three levels, with a 158,000 gallon aquarium in the center. The aquarium water will be solar heated to around 76 degrees, and will become a heat sink for the entire structure. Interior construction will be post and beam. Ventilation is the biggest challenge, and dehumidification imperative. I only have a back fire escape stairwell to get outside on the other sides.
I am borrowing a mobile concrete plant and making my own concrete. I have knowledgeable crews to place it, using plasticizers for placement mobility. I will be getting 7-8000# breaks overnight. I will save probably $200k on construction costs, there, alone.
I am purchasing the twin-I's for $4500 each, delivered to my site on the side of the mountain, and erected. I am spending a lot of money for concrete, but will have a structure which my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren can enjoy. It has been placed into a family trust, with a foundation established for charitable purposes (and associated tax breaks).
I know a lot about concrete construction, and real-world placement. The cost of your project would reap great benefits for the architectural firm (that good old 10%), but little for the users. I know you are in love with the idea, and can assure me of its supposed practicality. But, it would never function the way you suggest.
I drive on a lot of Interstate highways. I have homes in four states, from NC to AZ and NM. I reside most of the time in WV. I detest concrete roadways, because of the constant blip-blip-blip, and the associated bumps. Even with my Lincoln, it can be like a roller coaster, at times.
though projected as more duraable than asphalt, the chipping of the freeze/thaw cycles and road salts quickly take their toll.
In addition, most of the roads and bridges I see constructed with accelerants, and heat generating chemicals, start deteriorating VERY fast. The QC guys don't look at the placement properly, and the surface waters mix with the cement to make a very fragile surface. It quickly cracks and spalds.
I can't imagine how piano hinges would have kept those bridge panels in place. I know the concept, but here again, is an application problem. If you anchor one side, the flex action would destroy the entire structure. Be allowing them to break free, the bridge has been quickly restored to it sfunction.
I know concrete, and I know people. The project would become full time employment for too many people. Even the lawyers would jump onto that one...
Then in retrospect, what was missing was a powerful federal PR communications centralization effort, and stricter lines of federal authority over state politicos, actively angling to blame their lack of leadership on the Feds, as has been clearly documented in their email traffic.
Communications and authority: those are the real lessons of the disaster.
With concrete furniture too? Will your aquarium have chlorine? Learn the hard way : chlorine condensing on cold metal makes hydrochloric acid, the same acid that is in your stomach : many a metal swimming pool structure has been "digested" just that way...As to the flood road, you'll obviously never be a believer, and as Rhett Butler(Clark Gable)said at the end of the movie : Gone With The Wind : "Quite frankly my dear, I don't give a damn". It was but a minor invention of mine. I know perfectly well that it will work, it could have saved many a life and property but the world just wasn't interested. So, move on; better things to do than try to help people escape drowning in far off places. Old Montana saying : you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink...
You're funny, to say the least. The aquarium will house fresh water fish, to provide amusement and sustanance, and of course will not have chlorine in it. I also learned my chemistry. I also maintain aquariums presently, and use chelators to remove any traces of it, and other detrimental.
There will even be a smaller tank of 13000 gallons fed by springs, and stocked with small-mouth bass, and friends. The groundwater temps will keep it comfortable for them, and the springs will keep it fresh. It will overflow into the heated tank.
I prefer my Beautyrest, over a concrete slab. The rest of my furniture will be made in North Carolina factories, by American workers, of wood, steel, and fabrics. Comfort is very important in my life. I am a native Tarheel. I get great discounts from my friends.
Buying American goods is high on my list. But, I also shop at Walmart, and sometimes buy other things. We needed a new shower curtain liner and bought one last night, along with some toiletries.
I bought some Crest Rejuvenating toothpaste, and a new Crest Spinbrush pro. It's a great invention, but they had to redesign it. The original design was flawed enought to fail too early. I got a recall notice, that it basically fell apart, and a warning for those health providers using it for thier charges. I bought the new redesigned one, because I figured they had fixed any problems with their original design. My old one is back on the shelf, in case this one breaks. It hasn't failed me yet, though I have used it for almost a year.
You're correct about your flood road, though. I believe that your project would never get off the ground. The destructive wind and water forces would overpower it, while the sands and detritus would quickly cover it up. It would never return to its original placement, as per your suggestion. It just wouldn't be practical.
The application would be a nightmare for everybody. It seems obvious that I am not alone in that belief, since you can't find any buyers for your "invention". I'm not the sharpest tack, probably, but I am far from stupid. Nor am I naive enough to listen to a bridge salesman....
I met a guy that gets regular checks in the mail for his invention. He got tired of piling his finger/toe nails on the side table while cutting them, and designed a sliding housing to trap them. When the task is finished, you simply dump them into the trash. He has made several millions on the royalties. You ought to go back to the drawing board, and make something that sells! "Your dog don't hunt!"
Everybody needs to READ this; go to the web site and LOOK at the article and its graphics.
Brit mentioned this article in the "Grapevine" segment on Monday. Thanks for the thread and the link, going to read it.
Outstanding article! Thanks for the ping!
Very interesting, huh?
That's where I heard about it; I was going to post it when I found this thread.
Kind of hard to read the article, they obviously didn't use word wrap.
REPETITIVE PROPERTY LOSS BREAKDOWN
The chart above shows repetitive-loss property claims under the National Flood Insurance Program and the dollar amounts paid on those claims. (A repetitive-loss property is one with multiple insured losses due to floods within a 10-year period.) The five Gulf Coast states account for more than half the claims filed--a clear indication of the vulnerability of property in Hurricane Alley. The chart does not reflect claims made because of Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Insured losses for those storms are expected to top $22 billion. DIAGRAM BY AGUSTIN CHUNG
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