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March 03, 2006



The media just hit the end of that leash didn't they?


Rick Ballard - The good people of NOLA make it my affair by asking for scads of Federal Cash to rebuild. If your previous generations, dating back to the 1960's at least, cannot come up with a way to secure their city, manage it poorly, do not provide the proper precautions and defenses against nature to secure it and *then* come asking for more money to be spent just the same then I have one answer for them:


Rebuilding *just the same* is folly. The cost of putting in a hard and true flood system and storm surge system is in the 10's of Billions of Federal dollars.

Venice does not have the mighty Mississippi to contend with nor Category 5 hurricanes, it sinks peacefully and slowly and they let lower floors submerge. They do that because those lowest of buildings have a real *footing* upon the land. NOLA does *not*.

Before we spend $20B for a Cat 5 system that will, perforce, sink and need to be upgraded and maintained at some small cost, before we pour money in to rebuild outwards, and before we pay good Federal tax dollars over which are some of *mine* and *yours*, I will not pour money into a swamp to watch a *sink*. And mind you, that money will be on top of just trying to replace what was damaged and washed out.

This generation should ask of those surviving forebearers why they did *nothing* to properly prepare their city. That is the question I expect to be asked, should I be lucky enough to survive to see that day.

Save what can be saved and is of importance, keep a port open, but find a damn way to protect the people from being in a damn city that is sinking, with shrinking delta to protect it because of the fine idea of *managing* the Mississippi, and do what is necessary to ensure that we do *not* continue the folly of our parents and grandparents and forebearers back to the founding of the city by the French.

The French made a good decision for its time, but to continue on with it is folly.

I would not wish it, but the best thing to happen in the next few years is for a *real* Cat 5 to hit the city. Then saving what only can be saved as much more of the delta is lost will be the *only* option. The Atlantic Ocean has done its regular change and we are no longer getting the second stringers of hurricanes, and face a minimum decade more of same.

For the cost of *rebuilding* and *replacing* what was and then *enhancing* it, I expect a real solution to be found. If this were calm Venice or even the somewhat stormy North Sea the Dutch face, I would look at such a proposition. But this is a land of uncompacted silt and sediment, of diverted flows of a mighty river, of hurricanes washing the outer protections away so the storm surges go farther and farther up, and of total laxity and mismanagement and understanding.

Money to help the survivors? Yes.

Money to try and save NOLA as a whole? No.

The vaunted state and locals may gin up the 10s of Billions if it is their want. The Feds did not help rebuild San Francisco after its quake and fire and *it* was rebuilt. If you want my tax dollars, then expect to have to really put in the hard thought into how to get a good and long lasting solution in place, so we do not have to gin it up all over again in 1 year or 3 or 5 or 10 or 15.

I am not ungenerous, nor unkind. But I refuse to let my money fund idiocy like this without at least speaking up. If NOLA and others had proven *competent* and *honest* about protecting those that elected them, we would not be in this situation *now*. If they want *my* tax dollars, they can expect me to speak up and have my say on what I expect.

Because when I am asked 'What did you do to save New Orleans?' it is my fervent hope that the *people* of New Orleans will be safe when that happens. My answer will be that I tried to see a different path and better way that kept the vitality of the culture and its people, yet protected them from the folly of our parents and grand-parents and ensured there would always BE a New Orleans, even if the city itself disappears when it finally sinks or the delta is so gone that the soil begins to leave from under the city.

So many looking for new and bright ways to bring down the Republic. So few looking for new and bright ways to make it better for everyone.


It is probably folly to direct the fluid effluent of the entire land mass between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.

Florence Schmieg

Rick Ballard: I agree with you. I have not donated to the RNC since 2004 because I am not convinced the Republicans in Congress deserve it. Their running away from Bush on everything lately seems a fool's choice to me. And it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more they fight his initiatives, the more trouble he will have and his ratings will suffer more. They will then use that as an excuse to run away even further. This is the result of having no term limits. Only the impeachment threat keeps me from almost hoping they lose their majority to punish their ridiculous behavior. But I do not want to live in a country run by liberal Democrats so I will not hope for that. Apparently the AP issued a correction of its original inaccurate report regarding the levees. They admit now that it was overtopping not breaching being discussed. Of course, they released this late on a Friday night. Wonder why?


Has the Information Hurricane overtopped or breached the levees at the Associated Press.


kim - This information hurricane is undermining their foundations and they are slowly being pushed back and in by the storm surge. It is always method #3 that gets you when you only think about 1 and 2.

New Orleans wanted the Atchafalaya cut-off so that more water would flow towards them. The effect of that and levees was to constrain the flow, increase it and allow less sediment deposition in the delta. Flooding allowed the delta to be continuously rebuilt as it subsided, without that the subsidance continues unabated and soon dry land disappears. One civil engineer said that the delta was losing square footage to water at about "a football field a day". And now that the barrier islands aren't a barrier, the *next* storm, no matter how small, will eat at the delta itself. New Orleans could be a Gulf Coast city in a decade or less... depends on the number and paths of storms. After that... it will be undermined by the Mississippi *and* storms and normal Gulf currents.

Remember all of that was done to keep the port there open... instead of dredging the Atchafalaya and building a *second* port facility near that. So, saving the port is going to kill the city in the long run.

Wake me up when the finger pointing is over and someone gets the bad news on the condition of the delta, barrier islands, wetland subsidance, and the fact New Orleans is sinking. Because all the hemming and hawing and fingerpointing and vituperation are not going to change geophysical conditions one little bit. Then, maybe, we will not leave it up to the *experts* nor those that have vested interest in certain aspects of the city without thinking about the whole environment the city is sinking into to make up new plans.

We can make a secure population center. We can save historical portions of the city. We can run a viable port. What can't be done is rebuild New Orleans up to as it *was* and then invest much, much more to try and protect it, and then maintain and refresh that as more and more of the land goes below water level.

Let the Mississippi do her job of flooding the delta and rebuilding it. Open the Atchafalaya and let the might river go as she wants. Build a second port. And get the damn population away from areas that are inundated by storm surges and floods! If we start work *soon* parts of New Orleans can be saved and preserved and possibly moved.

Ragging on MSM and its various parts and keeping them honest is fun, to an extent, but the time to start working on what to *do* is upon us. Before 10s of Billions get put into 'No Plan' Nagin Land.


How refreshing to hear an honest assessment..


Rick, you are the ONLY one that I have heard nail the problem with the Congress. I had started my own little "Overseer Campaign" because of my total disgust for these creatures.

They do not have enough sense to understand their problem is not Bush. I am dearly sick of emailing and calling the nitwits. If they spent half the time fighting the media/Dems as they did 'feeling their concerns' they would have been in great shape.

The Congressional Clowns need to hop back in their car and pay attention to the ringmaster - if they want to hold the majority...Rick


Hear, hear, ajacksonian, or I fear you'll tear from me the dollar dear.

Rick Ballard


He has a good post up on his blog as well. Could be an AT piece.


Yes, Ajacksonian, would you consider submitting that to Thom Lifson? It's very thoughtful work.


I'd combine to the blog piece, the points you made here about the real options.

Rick Ballard


Ajacksonian - Thom Lifson is editor of The American Thinker or AT. I apologize if you already know that but sometimes shorthand can be a bit confusing. Either Clarice or I can give you a hand with making an initial contact. I can be reached by clicking my name here and then clicking it again over at Flares on the contributor list.


ajacksonian, maybe you can answer this: why is a new delta not forming?


Please be assured, ajacksonian, that the 'you'll' in my prev. post did not imply you taxing me. The geophysical inevitabilities are there, as you so clearly illustrate; who's to underwrite reconstruction that must inevitably fail? Why are you looking at me? Get that bright light out of my eyes.


noah - The water is not flowing over the delta during floods and slowing during those times, which are peak sediment carrying times. Also, the levee system has constrained the Mississippi at the most vital areas so that the flow, in general, is faster and the channel does not shift. This is wonderful for NOLA, but the sediment, now thoroughly entrained, does not slow naturally as it would in a normal channel so that it filters out in the Gulf. The upshot is that the entire Gulf of Mexico slowly gets the sediment that was due in the delta.

Secondly, the old channel it is in was shifting to the Atchafalya, which was more direct and would allow a different portion of the delta to build up. If you look at the map you will see the outer delta curve up to the Atchafalaya. *That* is where the sediment needs to go during flood times, with lesser amounts in the NOLA area. The delta is a dynamic system and its geography is not fixed over time. Parts get built up and subside at different rates over time, and the Mississipppi shifts to those more direct routes to the sea. As the channel silts up, the slow flows and more sediment is deposited. Then the channel will shift to a different course that is more direct to the Gulf. So, by putting in a cut-off to constrain the Atchafalaya flow that part of the delta is not rebuilt, the water flows too quickly to lose its sediment in the delta properly and that leaves the delta near NOLA *more* vulnerable. The major slow down is when the flow of water into the Gulf finally is absorbed by the Gulf. Until that point sediment is suspended and moving with the flow, where it finally gets to the Gulf it slows down and slowly descends carried only by Gulf currents. So the delta sediment flow, by channelization for shipping, does not slow where it would as the Mississippi would fan out with deposition at the mouth. Eliminating that process, cutting the Atchafalaya and putting in flood protection does very little to allow delta build up. Here we are about 40 years after the Atchafalaya project and one Cat 5 has nearly wiped out the barrier islands. Before and after maps clearly show this, I believe it is in the Google imagery section.

To kim and Rick Ballard - My ideas I make free for theft. Just give me attributiion is all I ever ask. I want a better *country* not limelight. If I can get just one or two people to actually *think* about a problem and address it, then I have done all I can. I cannot crusade. There are days when staying awake is a major feat and being rational is a problem. I do my damnedest to stay on-point and within the confines of this reality and, with luck, this part of space-time in the multiverse. Other days I do far less well.

The channelizing and redirection of the Atchafalaya has been a major sticking point with me from my childhood and seeing the waters of the Mississippi churning at the cutoff. An engineer, when asked, said: "If we ever have to fully open them, I doubt we can ever close it again." It serves as a FLOOD CONTROL measure!!!! So NOLA and downstream do not get FLOODED. That is the long and short of the delta problem right there.

If you wanted to do something *useful* there, stick in some turbines and generators and slow the flow and generate electricity. That would probably build up the delta too quickly, and then the Mississippi would shift again...

The long and short, steal and promulgate good ideas. Attribute to honor the original thinker, but add on your piece to it. Make my idiotic ideas *better*. I can no longer do the complete soup-to-nuts work that was so very easy not so very long ago. I can't give you the complete answer... with luck I can hand out the one small piece that will crystallize the entire solution.

Even if that original piece is expelled, it will have done its job.

So many looking to tear down, so few willing to create and think and contribute. I can do so little... and so much needs doing...

I am now rambling and intemperate. Please excuse me.

Harry Arthur

ajacksonian, superb analysis seldom if ever seen in the MSM who are too lazy to understand the real problems with the MS delta and NO. The barrier islands and the marshes/wetlands are key to protection from hurricane surge. NO has done almost everything entirely wrong to address the destruction of the natural barriers. I hope you will keep educating people on the real problems with NO.


Rick, please do this. You are better suited to do it than I. And ajacksonian has--despite his disclaimers--done it better than anyone else has.


Harry Arthur - Agreed. I will say that USACE did what they could with the knowledge of the day. That said, they *do* follow orders.... and when the Executive gives projects to Louisiana, well... *sigh* And then there is the entire shipment part of it. One would think a real *canal* for container shipping would be a decent solution to bypass the delta and let it be... silly me!

The main problem is buck passing... and a passed buck does not get invested, somehow.

clarice - a real hydrologist can do better than I can, or a civil engineer working on water projects and ground water problems in uncompacted sediment areas... I am just a trained geologist... a *real* hydrologist would do far better than my back of the envelope work. Modern software to model floods and sediment entrainment would show much of this, although it would probably take some hefty computer time and modeling to do so. I just try to fit the entire *system* together and see how it works as a whole when it changes. Or I *could* do that... the conscious part of my mind that worked in that area is out of commission now, so I am trusting my sub-conscious to give me a semi-accurate portrayal of the delta system, its flows, sediment entrainment, flood changes, channel movement, engineered bits and human resource use. Two years ago I could have probably done a 10 page summary, fully worked up, linked and such... today the abstract of *that* work is all I can get from my mind.

While shakey in some areas, the overall flow picture is damn clear. Look on the imagery, it will tell you.

Rick Ballard

Your Serenity,

As it is said, so shall it be.

Obedisco, etc.

Eddie Murrow

Wizbangblog has noted that the co-author of the original, faulty AP dispatch about the levee briefing (Margaret Ebrahim) has exactly the same name as someone who used to work with Dan Rather and Mary Mapes at 60 Minutes II--the program that fabricated the Texas Air National Guard memos.

If it is the same person, I would not be suprised.


Wonderful--ajacksonian has done such a wonderful job..it deserves a wider audience than we few...Thanks, Rick.

Eddie Murrow

Or surprised.


Her co-authors are not non-partisans either. http://www.rathergate.com/?p=1519


Many thanks ajacksonian.


noah - My pleasure! Wonderful to work those old sedimentation memories once again... all that yummy Stoke's Law and Reynold's Numbers and sifting and sifting and sifting and measuring and weighing and waiting and waiting and waiting for things to settle. What a way to spend a weekend! And then doing a turbidity analysis... mmmmmmmm... I am *so* glad I had an XT clone back then, couldn't do the analysis properly without it. Well, with a slide rule, yes... lovely K&E log-log decitrig from 1936....

Yup, the fine stuff should be well entrained until it gets to the Gulf, all the minor stuff up to some semi-big silt particles. Sand probably left near the mouth of the old channel, but it is not what you would call *stable*, needs the silt between the grains to stabilize it. I believe the technical term for it is: muck.


Everyone keeps talking about the "failure" of New Orleans. But again, what REALLY went wrong? Let's review.

First, the evacuation. That was a local thing. Then, the lack of information of the levees failing. Again, a local thing. Then the failure to evacuate the people out of the Superdome and Convention Center. Also a local thing.

Such a situation should have been planned for and a secondary plan should have been pre- developed and pre-arranged to evacuate the stranded people to a secondary place. It's not too hard to guess that the Superdome was only a temporary fix. Perhaps the locals could have set up places in schools gyms across Louisianna, maybe 500-1000 to a school so maybe about 40 school districts across the state. They could have sent down the local school busses, packed with food and water on the way down, from across the state to shuttle them from the Superdome, Convention Center- maybe sort them alphabetically by their last names to their respective schools as to have a greater chance of keeping families together. Anyway, something like this, or any other good plan, should have been PRE-ARRANGED! It's not rocket science. The fact that those people were stranded there for a week should not have been the fault of the Feds. It's the result of poor planning by the state government.

Soylent Red


Mark it a zero Smokey.


By the way, I kind of like my plan I thought of earlier and think EVERY state should have a plan like this in place to evacuate large numbers of people from one place to secondary places within days. Local schools make the best sense for this, as there are so many spead out in a state, and they already have the busses. After all, anything can happen - floods, bird flu, dirty bombs, and every state should be ready to go at any time.


Eddie Murrow has supplied one answer. The levees at the AP were dynamited on this one. Why isn't that woman still working for CBS? It's been awhile since I looked but Jayson Blair was listed as an editor at 'Drudge Retort', note the 't', but I wasn't sure whether it was a joke or not. He's probably talented as an accumulator, perfect if he actually is editing there. I also believe in the mutability of man, thus the possiblity of Blair's reform; but Murrow's AP gal ain't mutated yet.

If ajacksonian's understanding of the geophysical realities at the outlet of this most huge waterway aren't made common knowledge, then we are setting up another great loss of life and treasure, and the ones who allow it will be responsible. This now include YOU. Big picture of Uncle Sam pointing at you. It's a duty. Get busy.


Sylvia....you got it but I even think Baton Rouge has enough buses and schools to have handled it promptly, as a temporary solution. Plus the schools have the benefit of large cafeterias. Like your ideas on this. You really ought to share them with some of the Grand Overseers....to give them a clue.

ajacksonian also probably has it right but it will never fly by either side of the Overseers. Pugs embrace a real solution like this and cement themselves as the uncaring, racists that are refusing to let those people go home? The Dems will just sit back and point at the racists that will not allow the people to go home. One thing about it.....it should make front page and they will trample each other to get to the camera to condemn it.


Henry V urged his lords and soldiers "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, Or close the wall up with our English dead!" but did he mean "Once more unto the overspill, dear friends, once more, Or cover over the top of the wall up with our English dead!" ?

I think not.


Nice, Neo.

I'm afraid you're right, owl, and give a hoot. A disaster is inevitable if we try to recreate New Orleans. Surely at the point of spending the money to do that there will be pause. Some plan, almost any plan, except rebuilding to everyone's satisfaction.


owl - Not of any real political stripe, though the ideas I have are usually labelled conservative they are, really, a technicalist viewpoint and an attempt to adhere to the concepts that make the American experience something unable to be replicated elsewhere. My solutions, perforce, are ones that require a bit of forethought and, as a side-light, will employ hundreds more than the building of levees, putting in pilings and other such things which will, finally, sink. I mean, sticking toothpicks in jello surrounded by milk is just as interesting and rewarding and, in the end, the jello ends up just the same as New Orleans will. Heaven forbid someone suggests putting a *true* heavy industry in Louisiana! Can't have that! Those poor rural folks might have to get jobs or *gasp* create businesses to cater to those coming in to work there.

Perish the thought! Instead lets hire a few construction companies for a decade or so and put in *lots* of piling and pre-made concrete walls and... well... hope that no more hurricanes hit there during that time... and figure out a way to remake the barrier islands... and help rebuild the delta... and... leave New Orleans a basket case of a city around a port which still leaves it as a prime terrorist target.

YES!! THAT'S THE ANSWER!! Let's invite al Qaeda to supper! Worked so well in Pakistan... oh... they got blown up... so sorry!

kim - Just ask any geologist what New Orleans is built on. Prepare for gales of laughter. Or sobs.

And while this little phenomenon happened somewhat north of NOLA, the same incipient fault line in the North American plate just happens to run right down the Mississippi. Some readings indicate the largest quake in the area is usually only a 6 or so... but if it has a long-period quake system like New Madrid, we may not have experienced any 300 year or longer cycles yet. And the word when non-compacted, water soaked muck gets jolted by a quake: slurry. A Freedom Ship should have about 15 minutes to make way in case of *any* quake so it doesn't get moved around by a tsunami. *That* is actually a frightening thought, a 25' high, mile deep wall of water hitting any part of the coastline of the Gulf. Brrrrr... bad thought!


ajacksonian....you may have misunderstood my ramblings. I meant to point out that if you are correct, your comments sound suspiciously like a person applying technical knowledge and (heaven help us all), common sense. That is a comodity that seems to make grown men frown.


owl - Thank you for the clarification.

It is true, that does a good job of pegging me. Although I also enjoy such a thing as reading the Constitution and figuring it out as a system to come up with, I believe, novel approaches to such things as education reform, the right to bear arms and what the States should be doing to help in that, the role of Congress in asymmetrical warfare and using citizenship as the means to forcing those wanting an end to abortion to actually understand what it is they want to end.

Yes, I have very strange thoughts, indeed.

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