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RE: Journalist query: New Orleans levee/floodwall breaches

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John and All Good List Serve Members,

An interesting analogy is to compare the floods and levee performance in 1993 with the floods and performance in 2005 in New Orleans. There were thousands of miles of levees that were tested with the 1993 floods in the Midwest. There were no failures of US Army Corps of Engineers "owned" levees. There were levee failures, but these were agricultural levees that were not designed to the same risk as the levees constructed to protect Kansas City.

The following web site shows the history of the levee walls in Kansas City. There was a major program of levee construction and protection of Kansas City following the 1951 flood. The levee walls protected Kansas City quite well in the 1993 floods.

All to often we focus on what went wrong. We can not ignore those lessons, but we also need to look back and find what worked. If it worked, it is not as easily researched because of our focus for the spectacular, but there are lessons there as well.

It is interesting to see that once the New Orleans mega-pumps got power back on, how little time it took to pump the water. Those are amazing pumps designed by Wood. Some are almost 100 years old and they have 22 stations that can pump 47,000 cubic feet in one second. Now that's an amazing system of pumps.

......OK they need to do some work on back up power.

I would welcome a series of photographs in the future showing New Orleans high and dry with little damage to a future Cat 3 hurricane juxtaposed with photographs from Hurricane Katrina.

Harold Sprague

From: "John McQuaid" <John.McQuaid(--nospam--at)>
Reply-To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Subject: Journalist query: New Orleans levee/floodwall breaches
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2005 16:35:03 -0400

I am a reporter for The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. I am researching the
engineering issues raised by the structural failures in several canal
floodwalls in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina (and the ongoing problems
with Hurricane Rita) and am seeking expertise/input from structural
engineers and other scientists with expertise in the area of materials

Trying to develop a deeper understanding of the forces that would have been
acting on floodwalls with high water in the canals, various failure
dynamics, etc.

Any help/references appreciated.


John McQuaid

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans

Washington bureau

1101 Connecticut Avenue NW s. 300

Washington, DC 20036



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