I’m still thinking about Isaac. My writing hasn’t been able to keep pace.
They say every storm is unique, and certainly Isaac was very different from Katrina. Yet comparisons are inevitable, despite being problematic. One headline put it this way:
Drenched New Orleans passes big post-Katrina test
The US Army Corp of Engineers has done a lot of work since the floods of 2005. In monetary terms, it’s something in the neighborhood of $14 billion. I have no idea how many hours of human labor that represents. I still believe we should aim for a higher level of protection. We should build not for a so-called hundred year storm, but for 10,000 year storm, as the Dutch do. But that’s a separate gripe. One story coming out of Isaac is that the work the Corps has actually been tasked with appears to be effective. New Orleans was not flooded by Isaac’s surge.
But immediately outside of these federal flood protection structures, communities did flood. Braithwaite. LaPlace. Slidell. Lots of homes under water. (If you want to help the people who were flooded, please consider making a donation to Beacon of Hope.) A key question is, did our flood protection cause or exacerbate flooding elsewhere? It will take a while for that analysis. But if the answer comes back yes — if the system that keeps my home dry floods someone else’s home — what then, I wonder?
If you are looking for real root cause then it is wetlands destruction (much of which is caused by Corps policies that “starve” the Mississippi of sediment… so the the Corps can still be “blamed” if anyone needs that. It wasn’t the levee protection system that caused the flooding. If anything the “great wall” should have kept water OUT of LaPlace.
And the NorthShore flooding was from rain and natural drainage of the rainfall through the basin.
Rebuilding and protecting the wetlands protects “everyone”.
Northshore & Mississippi river flooding doesn’t take a hurricane… just lots of rain.
Braithwaite… Thank Nungesser. He spent all the money on the West side of Plaquemines Parish and very little on the East side. And only started building the levees on the east side in June. June? really?? To build the levee they have to take the existing protection down to the hard bottom which effectively lowered the protection they had.