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Re: Katrina was not a natural catastrophe but a man-made one

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I don't believe for a minute that I know all the facts, but it is my understanding that the flooding of New Orleans was caused by a great many things, all of which acted together:

1) Katrina dumped a lot of water on New Orleans and the Mississippi River region

2) The people of New Orleans built up the city on land that would have been underwater, if not for the levees

3) The Corps design was probably inadequate (that is from news accounts, not from any personal knowledge)

4) Congress wouldn't/couldn't provide enough funds to produce an adequate levee system

5) Vegetation (namely trees) were allowed to root into the levees, thereby damaging the stability of the levees

6) Several of the primary pumping systems failed (whether due to inadequate maintenance or an overload situation, I don't know)

Yes, a lot of people blame the US Army Corps of Engineers (note the word "engineers" in the name) but there is plenty of blame to go around. Yes, Katrina WAS the precipitating factor, however, there were a lot of factors that contributed to the flooding. Despite all the efforts being made, I can pretty well GUARANTEE that New Orleans will flood again at some point in its future. I can also GUARANTEE that San Francisco and Los Angeles will be hit by a devastating earthquake, that the Dallas/Ft. Worth downtown areas will be hit by a major tornado, that Miami will suffer major damage from a Category 5 hurricane, and even that some day (hopefully in the far, distant future) the Earth will be struck by a meteorite of sufficient size to cause another ice age. So get over it!

If anyone is going to help protect us from natural disasters, it will be engineers. Let's act like professionals, learn from the past and move on to the future.

As a side note, I think the YouTube clip was funny in that it appeared the New Orleans City Council missed the whole point of the activist group and kept referring to the Katrina Flooding. Just like it is easier to call H1N1 the "swine flu", it is easier to call the New Orleans flooding "Katrina". Even the title of this thread misses the point. Katrina was a hurricane, and as such it was a natural phenomenon (unless you want to get off into conspiracy theories). The flooding of New Orleans contained man-made components. The two things are different. We are turning into a nation that makes life-changing decisions based on "sound bites".

Thank you, Stan and Dr. Astaneh for BOTH your points of view.

Jay Shilstone

At 09:08 PM 11/23/2009, you wrote:
Professor Astaneh:

You are obviously long overdue for your reality check.  Please repeat after

1)  "Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans."

2)  "Terrorists destroyed the WTC towers."

The facts are what the facts are, whether the good people in New Orleans and
Berkeley like it or not.

Now that the facts are clear, it might also be a good time to stop
mindlessly bashing ASCE, the USACE, and Caltrans.  Your endless cheap shots
have no effect except to make you look like a malcontent idiot.


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., SECB
Plano, Texas

On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 2:44 PM, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl <
astaneh(--nospam--at)> wrote:

> Please see the following YouTube news story to see what people think about
> us engineers specially about Corps of Engineers and what it did in design of
> levees in New Orleans.
> Regards
> "Hassan"
> Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E., Professor
> UC-Berkeley

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