New Orleans and hurricane Katrina – the correct story

10. mai 2019


By Morten Jødal, biologist, (translated from Norwegian by Tim Crome)
At the very end of August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, and significant parts of the city were flooded. Parts of the town were completely destroyed, however, the French quarter was largely saved. The devastation was enormous, the cost of reconstruction equally. 14 years later there are still houses that have not been rebuilt. In our Western world, the results of hurricanes and floods are blamed on climate change. We still hear this in the climate debate. This explanation is far from reality, and is only politically correct. There are many other reasons for the flood damage in and around New Orleans.

New Orleans is located on the US Gulf Coast, in the state of Louisiana. The whole area is pancake flat, made up of fine-particle material that the Mississippi River has carried with it for millennia. There are many thousands of square kilometers of swamps and marshland (“bayou”), without any hills. When you drive in towards the city, the road is elevated on piles for many miles across the wetlands. The whole area is prone to flooding – for two reasons.

Mississippi Floods
This river in the United States is one of the largest watercourses on the planet, with an enormous flow of water. When I visited New Orleans in May 2019, there was a spring flood caused both by snow melting further north, and large rainfall throughout the spring. The Mississippi had a water flow of about 28,000 cubic meters per second, and was several meters above it’s “normal level”. Nevertheless, it did not breach its banks.

Before the Europeans started populating the land along the Mississippi River, the high water flows gave annual flooding. The river flooded over the plain, not only in the low-lying area outside the coast, but also in the states inland in the country. Here, too, it is flat. It could flood all the way up to the American Great Lakes. These water masses carried large amounts of fertile sludge and fines over the land. It was an important part of the ecology of the plain, and in the river delta area.

When the newcomers came to this part of America, they built dikes along the river banks. Eventually these walls came to stretch continuously on both sides of the watercourse, hundreds of miles to the west. That meant two things. First, the flood-plain was given far less fine-particle material, which fertilized both the natural and the cultivated land. The flat flood plain, formed by river material deposited by floods, will slowly dry out and compress naturally, and therefore sink, if it no longer experiences regular flooding. The lack of water means that the pores in the soil are not filled, which causes the soil to contract and the land to sink, as it also does in Bangladesh due to the regulation of waterways. Secondly, it led to better control of the floods.

clip_image004Flood dikes along the Mississippi. One finds these miles after miles up the river.

Over the centuries the flood control has been improved and the water masses in Mississippi were eventually tamed. However, when sand, gravel and fine-particle material cannot flow out over the plains and the floods are controlled, this is deposited on the river bed and the level of the river rises while the flood-plain around it drops. Therefore, the Mississippi River today, as well as the waters and bay outside the city (the “Pontchartrain Lake”) is above the level of the city. It goes without saying that this is a very dangerous situation for a large city, which has completely established its existence on the solid and high dikes. These must be constantly reinforced and built higher, both because the city is sinking and because the river bed is rising.

This was the situation during the hurricane and flood in 2005. Although the entire city of New Orleans is below the level of the river the high dikes kept the river water out of the town. In the same way they have done for many decades. The river was not to blame. Neither were the dikes built against it, they did their job. There problem for the city was that some of the dikes constructed along man-made canals inside the city burst.

The land areas along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico are exposed to hurricanes. The season begins in June and lasts until November. For thousands of years, hurricanes have come ashore in what is now the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. They do not reach land every year, and their strength varies. The one that made landfall in 2005 was listed on August 23rd as a category 5 hurricane. At this time, the storm was over the sea. When it hit the country on August 29th, it had been downgraded to category 3. The scale ranges from 1-5, of which 5 is the strongest. Hurricane Katrina was in other words originally very powerful, and had the potential to do great damage. And it did. But what was the cause?

Changed hydrology and ecology
The Mississippi River is, as described above, greatly altered, through the construction of flood barriers. In addition, the forest along the waterway has been cut down, and the wetlands drained and cultivated. Thus reduces the river’s ability to absorb flood water. However, the water masses in the river are no longer the major flood problem for New Orleans, there is another explanation.

The areas along the east coast of the United States have experienced a rapidly growing population, as well as increased industrialization and urbanization. With the expansion of the oil business in the Gulf of Mexico in the 1960s and 1980s, large canals were dug through the swamp areas into salt water. Ten of them have been particularly important. Other areas were dredged. All these changes were made to allow boat traffic, countless miles of pipelines were also constructed through the area. They brought oil and gas up to 50,000 installations.

The canals and dredging destroyed the natural hydrology of the delta areas. Open water areas were formed, partly as a result of erosion, and through large saline penetration. In the period 1956-1978, this activity led to the loss of 30-59 percent of the wetlands. The canals that were built in the 1960s, between the Gulf of Mexico and the New Orleans port areas, destroyed a total of 110 km2 of wetland. They also served as funnels for the water masses from Hurricane Katrina. It is also important to consider the large reduction of material and nutrient transport down the Mississippi. This was due to two conditions: ponds and reservoirs further up the river, and the establishment of flood barriers on both sides of the river – far inland. With greatly reduced material transport, the renewal process of the river delta stopped. Reduced material transport also led to the surrounding area sinking and the entire delta area decreasing, while the river was built up. Less nutrients in addition meant a change in the biological processes in the area.

The outermost islands against the gulf have always been treeless, but in the swamps (“bayou”), there have been forests. The most common tree type is the marsh cypresses (Taxodium distichum), that grows well in the brackish water. When the canals were dug, salt water penetrated further inland and destroyed some of the forests. Many dead trees still stand as ghosts in the landscape. In addition, a single biological factor has been important: the swamp beaver (Myocaster coypus). The fur industry in this part of the country introduced this species from South America in the 1930s, for farming. Some escaped and established large wild populations. The changing salinity in the area, as well as the introduction of the beavers, has destroyed parts of the forest in the swamp areas and in the marsh landscape towards the coast. It has also reduced the landscapes resistance to the water that follows when a hurricane crosses the coast.

clip_image006Trees killed by salt water that have penetrated the bayou system.

In recent decades, significant parts of the islands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico have disappeared. There is now much more open water. The vegetation has changed, and the canals act as funnels for the water that follows the hurricanes, pushing it up into the city of New Orleans.

Human errors
Many have called Hurricane Katrina for a natural disaster. Others describe it as being solely man-made. In reality, while it was a manifestation of nature’s enormous and recurrent forces, the devastation was mostly the result of human causes. The systems and structures established to deal with the effects of hurricanes were improperly planned and constructed, and the preparations for hurricanes – as well as the emergency procedures – did not work satisfactorily.

Some of the reasons behind the tragedy extend decades back in time, while others may be linked to actions and decisions just before, during, and after the floods. The dikes along the river have changed the dynamics of the area so that what should rise – sinks, while what should sink – rises. The loss of buffering wetlands was crucial, but poverty and technical problems have also played an important role. As New Orleans is below sea level, the city must always pump rainwater out. Because it is the US’s most rainy city, it has established a network of very powerful pumps. During the hurricane, the power supply failed and the pumps stood idle. This had major consequences.

More powerful hurricanes earlier
Hurricane Katrina is said to be a testament to human influence on the climate, and it is claimed that since it was of outstanding strength, it did damage that could never have occurred before our modern times. However, the argument does not hold water. Former hurricanes have been at least as powerful, but since population and infrastructure were much smaller in the past, the devastation and costs were also lower. A research group has estimated that if the hurricane that hit Miami in 1926 had hit New Orleans today, it would do more harm than any previous storm in American history.

Nor is it true that hurricanes occur more frequently than before. For the United States, the period from 1974 to 1994 was characterized by low hurricane activity, while the following decade had a higher frequency. However, following 2005, there was a period of twelve years during which there was a complete absence of category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes crossing the coast of the United States. Hurricane Harvey landed on August 26, 2017, after an “hurricane drought” of 142 months. There has not been such a long period without hurricane landfall since 1851.

Man-made climate changes did not cause the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hurricanes have always made land fall in the United States and done great harm. There has been no increase in either hurricane frequency or strength over the past 45 years. The destruction from Katrina was made worse by human intervention in the hydrology and ecology of the wetlands, where the Mississippi River is approaching the sea, as well as by technical problems associated with flood protection in the city. Future measures to safeguard the city against damage to the town involve restoring the ecosystems of the Bayou and better technical solutions for flood control in the city. A focus on smaller greenhouse gas emissions has nothing to do with it – it’s not the problem here.

The article was written based on the background information provided by the Hurricane Katrina exhibition at the Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans.

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Paul S
August 2, 2019 2:13 pm

I was there the very first day they allowed people back into the city to assist my mother in law. Very spooky, very eerie. Could hear mocking birds 1/2 mile away because of the lack of the din of a busy city.

Pop Piasa
August 2, 2019 2:29 pm

Excellent presentation. Completely agrees with observations by us Mississippi River dwellers who have been paying attention.
The levees which protect croplands and very few dwellings should be eliminated all the way up the tributaries (particularly the Missouri) and the land federalized, with the equitably bought-out landowners retaining first rights to farm the property at a fair lease rate, subject to refund in the case of flooding. The decrease in FEMA expenditures in river towns all along the Mississippi valley would offset the loss of cropland revenue during times of flooding. The farmers’ bonus would be the increase in productivity after each silt deposit. Crops planted and subsequently flooded (a rare scenario) could be covered by elective crop insurance, a common practice in farming.

August 2, 2019 2:37 pm

Very good post by Morten Jødal, (biologist) from Norway, which produces some excellent commentary from time to time here as this article provides. I always thought more of the failing city dykes and power outages to the pumps as the main culprit in the damages Hurricane Katrina caused, not thinking through completely the cumulative man made aspect of changing the dynamics of the entire Mississippi River itself. We all know that it has been extensively modified over the last few centuries, but most people from far and wide just assume it was the Hurricane that did the bulk of the damage when in reality it was also (mainly) caused by other man made effects that had nothing to do with global warming and climate change.

It would be nice to see a similar analysis of Superstorm Sandy on New York and area, and also considering that the full moon/king tide also magnified those damages as well. You never hear about the king tides anymore as having adding to the misery of Sandy on the eastern seaboard, although it added anywhere from 2-6 feet or more (depending exactly where) to storm surge levels because of higher king tides. If it had been low tide, the damage certainly would have been less, but we never hear anything about this.

Margaret King
Reply to  Earthling2
August 2, 2019 5:45 pm

Oh, where to begin??
So many faux pas, so little time!

I live 12 miles from Katrina’s Ground Zero, Pearlington, Mississippi, on the Pearl River (also LA/MS state line). Although New Orleans certainly suffered a horrific event and a much higher death count, Mississippi was the bullseye for the worst (front right quadrant or NE).
We are storm veterans and evacuated at higher rate than NOLA (there are a myriad of reasons for this-and politicians in LA with blood on their hands). We are more rural, many fled 100 miles north to relatives, some of us evac’d to a concrete motel on a 50 ft bluff on I-10. Storm surge at our bayou home 8 miles from the beach hit 33ft. 12 miles inland at the County Emergency Operations, surge was 15ft!!! Never seen anything like it. None of us ever thought it was climate change. Still don’t!

She was a Cat 5, 450 miles across. She broke every buoy marker with gauges, the last reading was 50foot wave. When she hit Buras, LA she dropped categories but the momentum, the 100s of miles of 20,40,60 ft waves kept surging, blowing houses of wood, huge buildings of concrete, brick, masonry.

Hurricanes are huge circles, broken into 4 quadrants, SE,NE,NW,SW, turning counterclockwise. The NE receives highest winds, rains, most tornadoes, highest surge (we lie on a south facing coastline-East coast may have differing results) The 3 coastal counties of MS and St Bernard Parish received the hits.
What killed NOLA was NOT the MS River but the waters and wind coming at City from the north and east, thru Lake Borgne and Pontchartrain. If you look at a map, you’ll see how MS River snakes south of NOLA city. It is called man-made disaster because leaders have known for decades that older pumps were inadequate, some levees were crappy too. Leaders knew from studying Dutch systems that eventually levees would fail. Mayor’s failure to provide transportation to his poorest residents was criminal in my mind. He rounded up 100s of buses….with no drivers, too few shelters or water or food. Many blame the Federal govt- and rightly so. But state, local too.

MS lost 265 souls (mostly from drowning in surge or drowning in attics 5-10 miles from the coast. Our hotel shredded apart, no roof or windows on storm side, no homes stood, just 40 ft debris fields. We rebuilt strong, homes elevated, good to 140 mph winds, grid is underground, people put up 14 day supply, not 3 days. FEMA took 8 days to get to us-as climate change increases, response time will get longer and level of help will decrease.

Katrina was a wake up call, not THE EVENT. She was the grande dame of old school hurricanes. Maria, Irma, Harvey, Florence are the future face. Stronger or longer, more often, pounding East and West, Gulf or Baja. Cyclones, El Niño, La Niña will exacerbate cycles.

As a resident of the Gulf Coast, I have seen the damage done by Big Oil, from wetlands destroyed to the death of our marine life and coastal marshes, the fertile cradle fragile to so many variables. Changes of a few ppm of salinity can kill off all oyster crab harvests. Floods in northern states wash death into our “farmlands”, the Gulf waters.
The reasons why it is happening are centuries in the making. Yes. But the solutions are today! If we want to keep our culture alive (and we are a unique rich culture) we must start the restoration of marshlands, the sponges in floods, cradles of new life-birds, oysters, micro organisms…..
Climate change is affecting us on the Gulf-look at HABs, Vibrio, dead zones, big oil leaks killing reefs, barrier islands. Directly or indirectly, it is affecting us here
Norway is far away. And far north. While I agree Katrina was NOT a warming storm, I’d be moronic to deny that climate change, sea level rise, land subsidence are here!!!! Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t make it so. Talk to scientists at USF or USM Gulf Coast….or a shrimper or an oystermen. We are living it!

Reply to  Margaret King
August 2, 2019 8:14 pm

I think I can comment since my mother’s house was at ground zero of Katrina in Bay St. Louis, MS. By what I’ve be able to determine, her property was under thirty-five feet of water at the maximum surge. Whether her house was actually underwater is unknown, since only a concrete slab remained at storm’s end.

At any rate, all I can say is, the climate in the area has not changed. Camille hit very close by in 1969, and was stronger. There was nothing different about Katrina than previous hurricanes of similar strength, nor the location where it made landfall, nor the time of the year it occurred. There are a lot of things going on affecting the environment in that area, but climate change is not one of them.

I will challenge you just as I have others who have blamed climate change for specific weather events: what was the actual element(s) in the climate that changed (temperature, precip, wind, cloud cover, etc), how did it contribute to that particular weather event, what was different compared to previous similar weather events, and what evidence is there that it was not natural?

Mark A Luhman
Reply to  Margaret King
August 2, 2019 9:11 pm

Pure B’S, Carmel was bigger and far more powerful, Carmel did not take my Aunts house in Belixim Caterina did, but Carmel had five city blocks of house to destroy before it could get to their house, Carmel only had fourth inches of water in the r years but one block away was twenty feet of water held back by the remain of the houses that laid between her house and the sea. Caterina had no such impeadement since the house were not allowed to be rebuild. The Mississippi delta and the gulf has paid a terrible price since the river is not allowed to flow over it unimpeded, Oil development has nothing to do with that. It the intercoastal water way any the fact ocean going ship are allowed to go up the Mississippi without locks That is what the author was trying to tell you and you are to dense to understand!

Maggie King
Reply to  Mark A Luhman
August 2, 2019 11:06 pm

Camille, not Carmel, was a Cat 5 with 190mph winds. But her storm winds were 60 miles out, Katrina’s winds were 120 miles out.
Camille did not top RR, Katrina did, and up the Jordan, Wolfe, Pearl and back bays, flooding 12 miles inland!
And every town built back on the beach after Camille- codes were stricter but in 2005, the whole coast was built up.
Camille was stronger but concentrated.
Katrina flattened 104,000 homes/apts, damaged 160,000 more. YOU don’t know if squat about either. I live here.

Mike Schilling
Reply to  Maggie King
August 3, 2019 2:55 am

I agree, people talk about it, but they don’t know what they are talking about. I have not moved back since the storm, I lived down the road and down the road is not the same.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Margaret King
August 2, 2019 9:21 pm

“I’d be moronic to deny that climate change, sea level rise, land subsidence are here!!!! ”

Most of the sea level rise there is owing to the land subsidence, no? And the land subsidence is mostly owing to water extraction and the lesser amounts of silt being deposited on them, no?

Reply to  Roger Knights
August 2, 2019 9:58 pm

No significant water extraction.

Subsidence throughout the swamps South of New Orleans are for lack of silt carried by the river.

Channeling the river to provide water speed to keep the channel from quickly silting up drives the bulk of the silt out the mouths of the river approximately 60-70 miles south of New Orleans.
They’ve opened a few holes in the river walls, but not enough. Midwest silt does not feed the swamps South of New Orleans.

As another commenter pointed out, permits were given to oil companies who treated the swamps as theirs to destroy.
* Fill was piled that blocked water movement.
* Trenches were dug for riverboat passage that allowed salt water to flow directly into freshwater and brackish water swamps.
* Riverboats are run at top speed through the passages the companies cut into the swamps causing large waves to erode islands and bayou edges. This is still ongoing.

Reply to  ATheoK
August 3, 2019 12:23 pm

The morning of Hurricane Katrina, a Veteran and retired Police Officer, responded to calls on his shortwave radio to rescue stranded citizens. Gathering his adult son and neighbor (a Vietnam War Veteran), they ventured into floodwaters on his personal skiboat. Remember the photo of the dog on the roof. This is the Veteran’s photo. As they entered floodwaters, a major Filmographer accompanied them. “Who We Are Hurricane Katrina ” was nominated for Best Filmography and Best Editing. Hoping that your affiliations will provide broadcast opportunities. Appreciatively, yours. Ermelle Martinez (Executive Producer )

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  Margaret King
August 3, 2019 7:15 pm

Now, now, now, Margaret et al. I think there have been a number of misunderstandings in this thread. Let me try to fix things.

MS was TBAGed by Katrina >> NOLA. But GWB (who was no JFK, or even LBJ or GHWB FTM) WUZ not the BAMF.


* Dems were DERPs.


* Mayor was DFL.

[oops! Gotta go! BRB!]



* SSS << Katrina because NH SST << tropical SST.

* WER NJ/NY hit harder by SSS than MS, NOLA by RR? IDK.

I hope this clarifies things somewhat.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Earthling2
August 2, 2019 5:52 pm

and also considering that the full moon/king tide also magnified those damages as well.”

Wow! You went went full redundant on that one! Well done!

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 2, 2019 10:03 pm

Full moon?
King Tide?

If you are referring to Katrina, the tides in the Gulf of Mexico are not like the tides along the oceanic coasts.
Tidal rise and fall around New Orleans is 1 to 2 feet maximum. Usually much less. Nor are their two high tides and two low tides per day.
comment image

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 3, 2019 8:35 am

Your welcome Jeff. P.S. What is ‘you went went’? Is that redundant?

Reply to  Earthling2
August 2, 2019 6:54 pm

People forget that SSS was a dying hurricane (actually NOT a hurricane when it hit NJ) that ran into a weak cold front. Not very convincing evidence of global warming.

August 2, 2019 2:46 pm

How about corruption.

Ex-New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s conviction on corruption charges leaves little doubt the Katrina disaster would never have unfolded as fatally as it did had there not been Third World-style mismanagement in that city. link

Reply to  commieBob
August 2, 2019 4:08 pm

Well, the article wasn’t addressing the aftermath – more the causes. (Although there was corruption there, too, with Nagin and company pocketing a fair chunk of emergency preparedness money.)

Reply to  Writing Observer
August 2, 2019 7:45 pm

The corruption was the cause of the failed levies. The mayor was the least of the corrupted. The real culprits were the local levy boards over decades who looked the other way at crappy levy construction.

Reply to  commieBob
August 2, 2019 4:36 pm

Exactly. Not to mention the poor disaster preparedness planning and the desire to blame this on the sitting president to score political points. And billions of dollars diverted to other pet political causes instead of maintenance and improvements to the flood control systems. The Dutch have managed a similar situation successfully for centuries.

Martin Cropp
Reply to  NavarreAggie
August 2, 2019 10:01 pm

The Dutch don’t get hurricanes.

Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 3, 2019 3:07 am

Actually they do, though not tropical hurricanes. Winds in the North Sea admittedly very rarely go beyond Cat. 1 hurricanes, but they have 10+ foot tides to cope with in addition.

Storm surges of 20 foot are not unknown in the North Sea.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 3, 2019 5:26 am

Yes, tty!

The northsea too has lost islands, citys sunken with church towers intact e.g. in “de grote mandränke”

Gerry, England
Reply to  Martin Cropp
August 4, 2019 4:12 am

The North Sea has a feature which can make storm surges worse if the driving force is from the north. Look at the shape and you will see a funnel that ends with the English Channel. If a weather system tracks south down the North Sea the rising sea can’t escape so you get flooding as happened in 1953. Added to a spring tide the sea defences were overwhelmed. A very irregular occurrence though.

Dr Deanster
Reply to  NavarreAggie
August 2, 2019 10:20 pm


Katrina was nothing but a fabricated disaster to cast a negative shadow on GWB. While I was not on the coast, I did live in North Louisiana and participated in taking in hundreds of refugees. …. and was very engaged in the news talk.

GWB actually called Kathleen Blanco and wanted her to make the call for a National Emergency …. SHE REFUSED … thus creating the disaster that was Katrina. It wasn’t until it was too late that she finally let the feds mobilize …. mission accomplished, damage done. The miscalculation was that the Dimwits didn’t anticipate just how serious the situation would become and the human cost. But it didn’t matter, because the same lackeys in the media that run cover for the climate change crowd were running cover for the dimwits as well, putting all the blame in GWB.

As the OP notes … Katrina was “politically correct” … ie, a scheme to benefit the Left.

Maggie King
Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 3, 2019 3:43 am

GOM sometimes has 2 tides, and if southerly winds blow, we on MS Coast get tidal flooding a lot in summer.

Maggie King
Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 3, 2019 3:48 am


Did you even KNOW MS bore the brunt of Katrina? Didja know 104,000 families had just a slab?

Because it didn’t happen to you doesn’t make it a “fabrication”…..

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Maggie King
August 3, 2019 4:49 am

Don’t be looking for sympathy, you’re the one who chose to live in a “flood zone”.

Dr Deanster
Reply to  Maggie King
August 3, 2019 9:04 am

Yes Maggie … I have friends in Past Christian who lost everything. MS got slammed, but the News Media didn’t focus on MS …. they focused on the man made disaster in New Orleans.

The MS folk responded to Katrina completely differently. First, they got their butts out of there. Second, they didn’t wait for daddy gubmint to come in and fix it all, feed them, house them, and shower them with $2000 debit cards that they promptly squandered on designer purses and shoes. No . The folk of MS did what they always did …. pulled together and rebuilt.

Ask yourself this. How much government aid did MS get compared to Dimwit stronghold New Orleans?

Reply to  Maggie King
August 3, 2019 9:14 am

Yes fabricated. You skipped over the part about “cast negative a shadow on GWB.”

The press could not blame the corrupt mayor for failure to get the buses out and could not blame a female governor for failure to declare emergency on time so the next up the chain was GWB.

The destruction was real, but the narrative was fabricated.

Maggie King
Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 3, 2019 5:29 pm

A new appreciation for nature. When she’s feeling wicked.
Was the house groaning or shuddering? We’ve stayed in our rebuilt raised home for Cat 1-2. House on pilings sway, don’t snap. Learned that from Southern pines, but it’s kinda scary. House is bulletproof to 140 mph. Not me- I run to hotel concrete fortress up on 50 ft bluff!

8 hrs of Katrina ripped every shred of civilization here. The world got black & white inminutes. We had to figure out who were allies, who were chaos and greed. True colors.

Maggie King
Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 3, 2019 6:22 pm

Dr Deanster
Yes, MS was a different tale, untold as we know, than NOLA.

It is disgusting that politics plays such a big role in life or death of innocents, no matter their zip code.

And believe me, in the hell after Katrina, noone was checking party affiliations, so I do wish people would lighten up. Katrina was a huge tragedy that took 10 years to rebuild. We had close to a million Vols just in MS. Build104,000 homes, repaired 160,000 more. Every power pole in my country was gone, 30,000 new poles. Every school bus, ambo, cop car fire engine gone! But 6 weeks later, county schools opened, few books, no kitchen. Lunch ladies made 3000 sandwiches and salads in 100° heat, no stoves, fridges,nothin’.
That was the most important goal: get our kids in school, with friends.
Church was outdoors, bring own chair!

We are hard workers, 2,3 jobs. We care for our grandparents, we help neighbors, we offer food, drink, shelter, $$ before you ask, so as to preserve your dignity. We didn’t have anything else left! And gallows humor…..we laughed, made fun of our loss, our craziness, our grief. Strangers held each other, sobbing. I remember the 5thday I heard a woman cry out at our “hotel” (no roof or glass or power, water). We thought she’d learned of a death, we walked down to offer sympathy but it was JOY. Hubby had gone to the slab where home used to be, for hours digging thru wood, plaster, dog food, glass, sheets and found their marriage license. It was their anniversary! We all brought a gift, an apple, 4 cool beers, a tomato and pack of smokes! My daughter and hubby had birthdays at Hotel katrina, and they were so precious.
Never much cared for Gov Barbour, a backroom MS politician & DC lobbyist. But Guv had preplaced our boys in the National Guard. They got there on day 3 with water MREs.

They called woman & kids to back of truck, slinging MREs to us. I saw those boys tearing up: we were their Mama’s, sisters, girlfriends!
So I hollered “Yo surf n turf here”
Everyone stopped…..then laughter.Or else you fall apart.

Although we got zip news coverage except Robin Roberts and Cokie Roberts (grew up here), we we’re blessed with volunteers: we had Amish, Baptist, Mexican Navy, Catholics, gay Presbys who stayed 3 yrs, Mennonite, Jewish synagogues, youth groups. Gave up a week on island to gut moldy dangerous houses.

No phones but grapevine said truck loaded with dishes/silverware coming. We’d go wait in line: 1 hour for breakfast, 1 hr to see nurse for tetanus shot, 2 hrs for Red Cross…..FEMA did not show in our Hood for 9 days, we had escaped on day 9.
We fared better cuz we are pretty rural, but tight. We did not have entire county of 30,000 in one place. We had access to some food water, shelter, but someone took night watch with gun to protect us and any food gas, gennie or whatev the thieves could trade or use. Young mom’s came to me for baby food, they left home with a days worth. You wanna slap them but we are all just numb, trying to get by. I had box milk, Mac mooshed’s up with weinies for kids, washrags for diapers……
I cannot imagine NOLA. I’d be terrified, as we’re 90% of peeps in dome- regular working folk without a paycheck.
One bank opened near us. Daily would cash yr check for $100 w local ID. We got enough $ to flee to my family in SC. A month later, I sent them a note and $300. That didn’t happen in NOLA, OR Biloxi or Slidell.

Sorry to rattle on.

And to Samuel Cogar, the Schmuck. Never asked for sympathy or a hand out. 70% of world population live in flood zones. And those people living on rivers? They are the “severe repeat claim properties” year in year out
I filed once on my flood insurance, in 2005 for $15,800….we are built 25 ft ASL, good to Cat 3, and hope a tornado just misses your home, I’d watch you mess yr pants you JERK

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Maggie King
August 4, 2019 4:24 am

Maggie King – August 3, 2019 at 6:22 pm

And to Samuel Cogar, the Schmuck. Never asked for sympathy or a hand out.

Well now, Maggie King, you sure as ell was not asking for a “cold beer” when you asked the following two questions.

Maggie King — “Did you even KNOW MS bore the brunt of Katrina? Didja know 104,000 families had just a slab?

Concerning a 14 year old event, …. you should have been telling someone about it, … NOT sarcastically asking them in order to garner a “feel sorry” response.

Reply to  NavarreAggie
August 2, 2019 11:18 pm

I agree, the Dutch do a much better job. On the other hand, they do get flooded occasionally, the latest being 1953. link

Kevin Kastner
Reply to  commieBob
August 3, 2019 12:02 pm

Me and my brother Keith was there in New Orleans at our house off downman road by Curran and West Laverne st my aunt Eloise called me ask me what I was going to do. I told her I don’t want to leave my house. She talked into us go to the Superdome we was going to stay at the house to protect it from coming into my house.

Ron Long
August 2, 2019 3:09 pm

Why doesn’t somebody just move the whole town to the nearest land a few feet above sea level? This cyclic disaster is illogical (I’m channeling Spock here). This foreigner visits the Katrina exhibit and figures the whole thing out in what, 10 minutes? Jeez!

Patrick Hartman
Reply to  Ron Long
August 2, 2019 4:26 pm

Maybe Floating Cities ifall the coast lines are going to drown.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 2, 2019 6:57 pm

Yes lets move the 2 busiest port in the usa net to ny city 😆 good luck with that

Reply to  Neal
August 3, 2019 3:13 am

It will have to be done sooner or later you know. The delta is sinking through compaction and without new sediment. And sooner or later Mississippi will break through and shift west to the Atchafalaya.

Maggie King
Reply to  tty
August 3, 2019 3:37 am

The southern point in Manhattan, Battery Park is a mere 6-9 ft Above Sea Level. And much of subway, sewer, water, power grid etc is underground. They’re already building floodwalls.

Mobile? Charleston? NJ? IDK

Reply to  Ron Long
August 2, 2019 8:35 pm

Well, the description that N.O. is below sea level isn’t quite the whole story. The area around and including the French Quarter is about 3’ ABOVE sea level, and does as well wrt flooding as most other coastal cities. A few miles away is another area, called Metairie Ridge, that is also several feet above sea level (my extended family has a great deal of property there, and have never been flooded).

The problem, of course, is that the city greatly outgrew the areas above sea level, and expanded into swampland, excuse me, wetlands. Restrict the size of the city, and you can keep the port without the constant fear of flooding. Unfortunately, no politician has ever been in favor of restricting growth, regardless of the merits of doing so,

August 2, 2019 3:30 pm

But that’s all far too complicated, much easier to simply blame it all on
Climate Change.


Paul S
August 2, 2019 3:36 pm

Right-on regarding the corruption and lack of maintenance and misuse of funds which were supposed to be spend on levys, pumps,dikes, etc. but weren’t. That is why I never refer to it as “Hurricane Katrina”, but “The Flood of 2005”. It was a minor hurricane as hurricanes go as far as wind damage that occurred.

Chris Morris
August 2, 2019 3:58 pm

I believe that one of the issues for the flooding was the major pumping station had 25Hz motors, and the dedicated power station failed, so there was no electricity to remove the flood waters that had breached the barriers. They had to get the power station going before those pumps could run.
If that is correct, then it is another case of infrastructure neglect.

Pop Piasa
August 2, 2019 4:22 pm

After waiting well over an hour for my comment to appear, I must ask why my comments are continually delayed. CTM, can you fill me in?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Pop Piasa
August 3, 2019 9:26 am

Pop, apparently WUWT (WordPress) only updates the comments once per hour at the top of the hour, so if you post a message at 10 minutes past the hour, you will have to wait about 50 minutes before your post shows up on the website!

David Riser
August 2, 2019 4:30 pm

The issue that resulted in the flooding of N.O. was a failure of the Army Corp of Engineers to properly design and maintain the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) canal. This failure allowed the MRGO to provide a direct path for storm surge which happened to be perfectly aligned with the surge from Katrina even though the storm center missed N.O. by about 50 miles or more the storm surge ran up the MRGO and hit the secondary levees which are weaker than the Mississippi levees that contained the surge without an issue. The secondary levees failed and flooded the city. This is not a matter of opinion this is what happened. An additionally interesting point, the ACOE would normally be immune from liabililty for flooding but in this case the failure was in the maintaining and design of a navigation canal that was ultimately responsible for the flooding in NO.

HD Hoese
Reply to  David Riser
August 2, 2019 7:01 pm

George Rounsefell and colleagues in the Fish and Wildlife Service and elsewhere gathered a very impressive analysis of the MRGO that was fairly prescient, the hydrography important to more than just the fisheries. The MRGO was also an industrial failure, and is now being closed. The work is available on-line and was probably largely ignored based on the little I knew about it. Rounsefell, G. A. 1964. Preconstruction study of the fisheries of the estuarine area traversed by the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Project. Fishery Bulletin U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service 63(2):373-393.

If you look at the definition of wetland or just walk in it, you will find that it is not lost, unless, as convention has developed it is a synonym of marsh, or mangrove which has been spreading and may be a better storm barrier. The loss is transformation to open water as noted, around a meter or so deep. All these things to varying degrees cut storm surge, but as two geologists got in trouble with, marsh is more like a “speed bump” important but questionable and controversial in a lot of restoration projects’ projections. Rita and Audrey before it went across better and higher marsh well up to Lake Charles.

There are lots of ideas about what to do about the situation, the natural waterways subject to lots of changes, natural and otherwise, in relatively short periods of lifetimes. There is a lot in several issues of the Journal of Coastal Research covering various aspects of the coast (including the management plan) and lots of studies going on about the diversions. Might help to quit building on slabs. Might help to quit building as they did in New Orleans East. Might help to do more and better homework. I suspect that there is no such thing as the best solution, only the less worst. A sort of Triage and no way those on the Potomac can understand it very well.

Reply to  David Riser
August 2, 2019 7:46 pm

Nope it wasn’t the ACOE … it was the local levy boards that screwed up.

Michael Jankowski
August 2, 2019 4:53 pm

The levees failed well below what they were supposed to have been designed-for…because they were actually not designed and constructed properly. It was purely a failure of government and engineering on the part of the Army Corps.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
August 2, 2019 5:50 pm


The contractor for the 17th street levee had sued the Corps of engineers due to cost overruns caused by being provided incorrect soil geology reports prior to the bidding process.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
August 2, 2019 8:56 pm

I have seen credible reporting that one reason the oil industry settled in Houston , Texas rather than New Orleans Louisiana was the differing levels of corruption among the local politicians. Given that Texas produced Lyndon Johnson, Louisiana must have been a shark tank.

Reply to  Tom Halla
August 3, 2019 3:18 am

Texas graft is perhaps honest graft – the politicians stay bought?

August 2, 2019 5:56 pm

The locks and levees had been under the control of the US Army Corps. of Engineers (as is the Cape Cod Canal.) Using some stunning political dirty tricks and with help from Congress, the city government was able to seize control from the Corps. There began epic corruption and mismanagement.
The Corps. detailed when, where and under what conditions the locks and levees would fail, in an effort to get the city to resume maintenance and rebuilding activities. All to no avail.
When Katrina hit, the locks and levees failed *exactly* as the Corps. had indicated, and the city flooded.
Did the locks and levees fail, or did they perform exactly as calculated?
If they performed as calculated, and behaved as expected, how can that be called a failure?

peter snell
August 2, 2019 6:14 pm

1) Morten .. you may want to consult a map. I live on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico .. NoLa is NOT a coastal city; it is many river miles from the Gulf. Lake Ponchetrain and the River are the nearby waters, and THEY are not coastal either.

2) Katrina was NOT a middling storm; I have witnessed many hurricanes over 7 decades, and Katrina was the only storm which gave me real concern. Its surge (where it ACTUALLY made landfall .. about 11 miles west of my location) was the highest storm surge ever recorded in N. America. That and the 200 mph wind speed in squalls and gusts make it a MAJOR hurricane.

Reply to  peter snell
August 2, 2019 7:53 pm

The storm surge in and near New Orleans was inconsequential, just a few feet. It was very high in coastal MS, well east of NO. The winds in NO also were just minor hurricane sustained speeds.

The huge amount of damage in NO was strictly due to failure of the levies which if built to spec would never have failed.

Maggie King
Reply to  peter snell
August 2, 2019 10:13 pm

Okey dokey!
Sorry to hear your mom lost her home-its a big hit, especially for us older folks. And you lose that very American sense of security. In 8 hours, the false construct of order, stability vanished. Chaos nipped our heels, and you find out quick who is friend or foe. You’d be surprised at some…..

I’ve been here since 1990. Live on the bayou north of the Bay…..evac’d 12 times. Granted we were in El Niño cycle from mid-90s til 2003 or so. La Niña was a witch: 2005 season so active we exhausted the Greek alphabet-crazy…..but not climate change.

And I do not see a water level rise…..I’m on a tidal bayou. Perhaps what I perceive as global change is actually human impact on my finite world here on waters I know in the dark. And THAT impact is profound.

Add the Midwest floods lowering salinity so low we lost 100% of oysters, 65% of crab, 100% of brown shrimp, 150 dolphin deaths, ad nauseum. These nutrient rich freshwaters are perfect for HABs to flourish. Blue green or red tides.
BP Disaster has left reefs, seafloor totally dead, billions of degraded oil tarballs sunk oil below surface (cuz US fines per gallon spilled, so Corexit sinks oil-clever). Tarballs covered beaches. Covered with 6 inches sand at night. Now eroding. Tarballs in Gulf host a more virulent Vibrio than Atlantic waters.
Fracking in Gulf is a hi risk. Cracks in methane caverns (like the one by DWH) have been seen. Seafloor covered in degraded (more toxic) oil, a good storm could sling it miles inland.

All MS beaches were shut down pre July 4th and long after-tourism, commercial seafood, etc all gone!

I’m not gonna argue climate science with anyone, but please don’t deny the mess humans have made of the gulf, oceans in general, and the havoc fossil fuels and tsunamis of pig, poultry and cow poop on the River have caused….the Gulf is the latrine for 32 states, yeah thanks!..I won’t let my dogs near the beach, certainly not the grandkids.

Reply to  Maggie King
August 3, 2019 1:33 pm

As I said, there are a lot of things affecting the environment down there. My family (on my mother’s side), has lived in the NO area since the 1800s. I’ve been visiting since the 1950s. Lived in Baton Rouge 14 years. Climate same as always; air so thick, hot, and muggy in the summer you could almost take a leap and swim in it. Winters 40 degrees and rain.

NO gets its drinking water from the river. I wouldn’t touch it. It’s the sewer system of the midwest, and a major source of pollution in the Gulf. The BP debacle, though, was not as bad as believed. You are wrong re the destruction on the floor of the Gulf. Research has shown that nature cleaned it up much faster than anyone thought possible.

Just be glad that the homes destroyed by Katrina had not had all their incandescent light bulbs replaced with the mercury-laced fluorescent bulbs available at the time. You still wouldn’t be eating seafood from the Gulf.

steven mosher
August 2, 2019 7:00 pm

good post. man you slayed that strawman.

August 2, 2019 7:41 pm

A couple of corrections:

The overwhelming reason for the flooding in New Orleans from Katrina was corruption. Louisiana has always been among the most corrupted areas of the US. It is a cultural thing. The levies that failed and were the proximate cause of the city’s flooding were the responsibility of the local levy board, made up of bought off SOBs who exercised no oversight of construction of the failed levies, which of course never came close to meeting specification. The Federally built levies did not fail.

Second – a bayou is not a swamp. A bayou is a tidal river – a river that flows both directions depending upon the tides.

Maggie King
Reply to  Duane
August 2, 2019 9:28 pm

Thank you!
My family survived Katrina in Bay St Louis, MS but every person we knew lost their home except one (she had 4 ft water, we helped gut 1st 4 ft. Max of 15 ppl sleeping there for almost 8 most.)

Our County Emergency Operations (12 miles from beach but 1 mile from Jordan River) got 15 ft surge. We knew it would be bad, NOONE could grasp HOW bad.
For a person to call it a “flood” indicates no insight, nor empathy, nor first hand knowledge.

Most deniers seem to live on mountaintops or say we deserve it for living near coasts. Hey, 75% of pop lives within a short distance of coasts, rivers, other vulnerable land.
In 25 years, I made one claim on my flood insurance. River dwellers have SRL severe repeat claim history-

Reply to  Maggie King
August 3, 2019 2:44 pm

Yeah. I live on the coast as well. 15 miles inland and 240 ft above sea level. Ivan was my worst ride. Est 115 mph wind for 3 hrs based on an insurance consortium research paper. I had maybe $300 in property damage and one totaled Bronco II that took the impact from an oak that would have nailed my house otherwise. Took me and a chainsaw 2 days to get to my tobacco in the Bronco.

Maggie King
Reply to  tweak
August 3, 2019 5:26 pm

A new appreciation for nature. When she’s feeling wicked.
Was the house groaning or shuddering? We’ve stayed in our rebuilt raised home for Cat 1-2. House on pilings sway, don’t snap. Learned that from Southern pines, but it’s kinda scary. House is bulletproof to 140 mph. Not me- I run to hotel concrete fortress up on 50 ft bluff!

8 hrs of Katrina ripped every shred of civilization here. The world got black & white inminutes. We had to figure out who were allies, who were chaos and greed. True colors.

Reply to  tweak
August 3, 2019 9:49 pm

Yes, lots of howling. Not as bad as the tornado I rode out in 94 up in MS, but bad. Strangest thing I saw was Freightliner using my driveway to turn around in the middle of that before the tree ate my Bronco.

Reply to  tweak
August 3, 2019 9:57 pm

One additional thing I did before the storm was to erect K type shoring on my garage door out of paranoia.

Fortunately I had been through DC school and knew how.

Maggie King
Reply to  tweak
August 4, 2019 12:45 am

Lol, my husband is a real Mr Fixit, an amazing mind for trouble shooting or alternative method. And I am the organizer/documentation. We have supplies, a hurricane protocol, after 35 yrs here, were a well oiled evac machine.

People laughed when we evac’d to hotel fort on I-10 50 ft bluff. I emptied meat freezer, pantry, linen closet, kitchen and the Basket (baby pix, papers IDs etc) AND our flatboat & motor, 2 dogs and cat, our 9 yr old and the work truck. Bill which we parked under huge old oak….and our PC….. Yup!
We heard a deep groaning mid-storm, the oak!!! He ran out and moved truck, and wham Earth rumbled. 300 yr oak fell.

We fed half the ppl there, before it rotted:;elderly and kids first. Made urn of coffee early morning. Years later a lady ran and hugged me ” you’re the coffee lady- that cup saved my sanity!” ….hubby was called the Mayor. I guess ppl look for ppl who get things done, idk.

Storms are surreal. We went to enclosed courtyard in hotel when K was screening, sheet metal tearing. Noisy.
The metal roof was tearing like paper, then fly off. Pink insulation, long black cables snapping glass shattering, women screaming. Hubby and I were kinda laughing, ” Maggie it’s like a Hollywood movie”:….it’s not happening to you-weird.

My fave was we had room door open looking at parking lot …signs, roofs, a 6 ft beach ball then we see a dirt bike cartwheeling thru there. ” wait, where’s Dorothy’s cow or the flying monkeys?”…….
I-10 had a gas tank from airport floated up, 30 ft across- morons trying to steal gas from a sphere rolling around-lol…..a washer here. fridge standing upright on deserted interstate…..wish we took more pix…..
Hopefully at 68, I’m done with “Storm of a lifetime” . You too-gimme a ‘Cane, tornados freak me way out! Have a good night

August 2, 2019 9:03 pm

The levees that failed in New Orleans were concrete wall levees. Water pressure on one side combined with soft soil caused them to topple like dominoes. Sloped earth on both sides of a concrete core would have required expropriating a lot more land, people’s homes and yards, not
a popular option for local politicians.
Pumping stations were not well maintained with custom built 25 Hz motors and there were few personnel available to operate the pumps, most having evacuated, considered non-essential. Flood waters remained in some sections of the city for 4 weeks.

JRF in Pensacola
August 2, 2019 9:37 pm

The interesting thing about hurricanes is that your “feeling” about the storm depends upon your location in relation to the cyclone. That will always be so.

I believe that Morten is mostly correct. Several factors contributed to that storm’s devastation starting with channelization of the Mississippi. Channelization has advantages, principally for transportation, but disadvantages include impacts on aquatic ecology and flooding at high flow rates. Add to that, a city below sea level and an inadequate levee/dike system, plus a cyclone approaching at an undesirable angle, and the stage is set for a disaster.

So, man is involved but not from climate change and I’m surprised that no one mentioned Camille. This hurricane was a Cat 5 at landfall near Pass Christian/Waveland, MS. The year: 1969.

August 2, 2019 9:47 pm

I stopped reading part way through the article as it is full of half truths and complete misconceptions.

A) The area is not “pancake flat”!

The French Quarter was not “saved”! Nor was those portions of New Orleans collectively called “Old Town”.
These areas were/are higher than the rest of the area which includes filled bayous. Filled bayous that are sill sinking as organic material decomposes.
Many of these areas along with others that pioneers and colonists built upon were higher and made higher by the middens Native Americans left.

“When you drive in towards the city, the road is elevated on piles for many miles across the wetlands.”

This is only when one drives in from/to Baton Rouge. Those “piles” cross the Atchafalaya basin.

To the North, across Lake Pontchartrain is Mandeville. There is a bridge crossing the lake (estuary) and regular road into Mandeville.
The the East is the road to Slidell. Parts of the road are bridge crossings. A bridge that was damaged by Katrina.
To the South, one crosses the Mississippi River to the communities on the South Side, called the West Bank; Marrero, Westego, Terrytown, Belle Chasse, etc. All of these lands are above sea level, though many areas have been filled so builders could construct homes.

One can visit Jean Lafitte Park; Barataria Preserve. See gators, take swamp tours, etc. etc. This is swampland with connections to the Gulf of Mexico.

Yes, the Mississippi River dikes are high; protecting New Orleans from river flooding is not the reason for the dikes!
New Orleans is and has been a very important port city!
Like coffee? A large portion of the country’s coffee beans are brought in through New Orleans.

The dikes are high to maintain the river and river flow to keep the channel in position and clear for oceangoing vessels!
Without the dikes, the Mississippi River would have moved multiple times over the last 150 years. Without the River barriers and spillways, the Mississippi River would have left New Orleans completely high and dry decades ago.

The Spring 2019 floods?
Yes, a major problem for America’s heartland where the dikes are meant to control flooding.
New Orleans didn’t even notice the flood potential.
Only some of the spillways were opened for the Spring 2019 flood, most of the spillways that were opened were not running at maximum.

The little bit of fresh water allowed into Lake Pontchartrain will move the lake’s water back towards brackish, instead of high salt.
perhaps for a few years, oysters will be a significant Lake Pontchartrain crop again.

I stopped reading at that point. Not worth the irritation.

Margaret King
Reply to  ATheoK
August 2, 2019 10:25 pm

Camille was more powerful but very compact compared to Katrina!
And our seniors who survived Camille (“she never breached the railroad” ….like a big dirt berm or levee). stayed for Katrina. They stayed to keep looters out. But those homes were in surge fields, waters to 2nd floor in 45 seconds. No escape, homes were toothpicks. Katrina reached 12 miles inland up our rivers and bayous. From Slidell, all MS and past Mobile. Camille never topped RR. BUT yes she was a killer.

Maggie King
Reply to  ATheoK
August 2, 2019 10:37 pm

I know, right?
The hydrology in this particular corner of Earth is such a complex convoluted ecosystem, it defies categorization. Especially a dude from NORWAY! LOL!

The Bonne Carre was open 118days and created a mess in the Gulf. All 21 MS beaches closed, seafood ban, 100% loss of oyster and brown shrimp harvest, 65% of crab here. So the old river still kicks butt…..

Did Norseman even mention MRGO? Or Pontchartrain? Anyway imma gawn pecan!

August 3, 2019 12:19 am

while you are at it, why not explain this away?

then you could explain why Alaska has been freezing all summer.

Reply to  griff
August 3, 2019 3:25 am

I will, if you explain this away first:

Maggie King
Reply to  tty
August 3, 2019 3:28 am


Maggie King
Reply to  griff
August 3, 2019 3:26 am

Most of the 32 states that use the MS River had record flooding, leading to the problems with pathogenic blooms, near zero salinity, crap harvests and Delta floods.

“Explain it away”??

The ACOE and a few agri-bizzes are trying to force thru some godawful, multi trillion dam project that’d relieve a few. This area has centuries of flooding history, 2019 is just worse. Many farmers get subsidies or emergency funding.
Mr Oysterman gets ZIP!

And Alaska?
It’s “global climate change” not “I live in Mississippi, it was 74° in July so climate change is BS” stupidity.
You’re welcome!

August 3, 2019 8:39 am

Morten Jødal ==> Very nicely done.

August 3, 2019 11:04 am

The damages to New Orleans from Katrina were a failure of government, certainly not global warming. For several years I served on an interstate commission. Once a year we met in New Orleans. When we did we got a detailed briefing from the Corps. They covered ever potential problem from river flooding to continual subsidence to major hurricanes that might affect the Mississippi Delta. They explained what to expect if “a big one hit.” Reviewing the aftermath of Katrina there were no real surprises for me at least.

A lot of the flooding in New Orleans came from Lake Pontchartrain. The Corps planned and had the money to build storm surge gates at the mouth of the Lake that if in place would have prevented much of the flooding that impacted New Orleans. Poorly constructed dikes might have survived. The storm surge gate plan was opposed in court by several environmental groups and they won. I haven’t followed up recently there were rumors that the surge gates were once again on the agenda.

New Orleans has been sinking almost since it was first settled in 1718.

For those complaining about what “big oil” did in the Delta after WWII, you really need to better study history. Appreciate that we often get lost in the name calling about Fascism and Imperial Japan, but the war was all about resources, most especially gas and oil. I cannot imagine in the 1950s and 1960s that many, except some living in the marsh would have complained about oil exploration there.

Maggie King
Reply to  Edwin
August 3, 2019 5:12 pm


I watched my world change profoundly in May 2010, for months we watched the oil, the dead birds, or dying dolphins, gasping, afraid and dead. DEAD due to Big Oil, BP, Halliburton, Transocean et Al. The depth and pall of intentional corner cutting by corporations of great wealth.
The DWH site was approved for very deep drilling. BOEM, MMR, EPA all knew risks in deep water drills, close by methane caverns. Fractures from drilling could lead to disaster.

Halliburton knowingly shot sub spec cement that didn’t hold
Pressure tests were read incorrectly
Leak not detected on time
Valve fail #1
Valve fail #2 8 min before explosion, blow out preventer tried as mud/gas gushed
Gas detection alarm on rig Failed
Mud/gas overwhelmed “separator” that could divert-fail
BOP- Dead battery, defective switch
That was the day 11 men died.

Culture of cutting corners, sloppy safety training monitoring, 1000s of safety, environmental violations. BP is infamous for this.

Now almost 10 yrs later, we are seeing new loss, damages.
Did you know that Feds were NOT involved in stopping leak, containing oil, cleaning up, assessing gallons spilled. That was all BP Contracted. Private security was Halliburton mercenaries, physically removing residents off beach. Media blackout, no fly zone, intimidation, 1000s of SEO terms bought from Google, Yahoo.

Fines on spills are per gallon spilled. BP employed a toxic dispersant that grabbed surface oil and sunk it down 2-3 Meters. Voila! No oil to see! BP admitted lying to Congress about amount spilled. These tarballs sunk to deep reefs, bleaching them. Tarballs washed up on marsh grasses, killing roots, killing marsh flood protection, tarballs of crude/Corexit are 52X more toxic than alone. Tarballs attract Vibrio, concentrations 100X higher than in Atlantic.
Seafloor a confirmed to be covered 6 inches with degraded oil. A hurricane could pick it up and hurl it on land

Taylor leaked for 14 YEARS!!!!

COMPLAINING? I should be throwing Molotov cocktails! Their canals for supertankers destroyed flood protection, nurseries for many.
Clean up workers were told if they demanded respirators (required) they’d be fired.

Tar mats on sand beaches were noted by local residents, given to BP. The next day, mats were GONE! TIL we dug 6 inches.
Oil Sheens disappeared overnite! We heard planes at night…..
People near spraying of Corexit have sickened, and 2 ppl I know died of chem pneumonia. BP says Prove it.
Ppl think BP paid everyone bags of dough. But no medical claims are paid. The NIH did a study, predicted 170,000 people will die from chemical toxicity. Cancers, neuro disorders, organ failures don’t manifest for years. They wouldn’t e ven tell us what was in Corexit (proprietary trade secret!!!) Judge ordered them to divulge it was 2 butoxyethanol, amongst other toxins.
Mutations in shrimp, tuna and dolphins are still seen generations later. 2 butoxy is cell wall permeable, thus can mutate DNA in those species.

IF BIG OIL and contractors acted ethically and as a eco-conscious entity, MAYBE we could coexist. But all oil corps in the Gulf have been climate denying for decades, deny fossil fuels kill 100s of 1000s globally. Say regulations are killing profits. But BP in 2010, even with $6 billion spent on DWH hada record year with highest profits. How much is our culture, history, seafood industry, our community worth? Do we even factor into supplier or consumers as they bitch about gas prices. That cheap gas has a high price. We are resilient people who share life with adversity. The waters, the rigs, the logging….the hurricanes, the corruption, the oil spills….we pull thru.
Recently a group of oil execs told the Gulf states and Feds that due to climate change and sea level rise, they want taxpayers to pay to protect their refineries and storage facilities! What gall!

Now that y’all ticked me off with arrogance and condescension (we should be kissin’ oil cos butts), I am taking the flatboat out on waters I could navigate in the dark, watch the osprey, the egrets, listen to tree frogs and hear bats whooshing thru dusk air. Enjoy it til Trump or EXXON wants to track for gas and we start a guerilla war back here….never fight a man on his own land, never.

Reply to  Maggie King
August 4, 2019 9:50 am

Maggie, you are talking about very recent history not the history of oil exploration in the Delta. When oil and gas was discovered in the Delta (ca 1947) the country celebrated. Our understanding of the entire system was far, far different than today. If you don’t like “big oil” quit driving any vehicle with a internal combustion engine, quit using all plastics, etc so you would be setting an example for everyone else.

The examples you cite are from offshore and deepwater drilling, e.g. Deepwater Horizon. Ixtoc I was a far worse spill than Deepwater Horizon, contrary to what the MSM tries to feed us. My organization was partially responsible for tracking both spills. And no, we were not “big oil.” Never forget shortly before the Deepwater Horizon tragedy the Obama-Biden administration gave the rig a big safety award.

Len Werner
August 4, 2019 6:45 am

Strange (?) thing–every single issue presented here I heard in my first engineering geology class n 1966, every one of them. It finally happened 39 years later, and all I could do was shrug because so many knew it would happen someday and so many more ignored the inevitability. What do we do to ‘save people’ when they ignore the warnings? Kind of like the ‘drug problem’, where warnings to not get involved with the the stuff go unheeded, and then somehow it’s someone else’s fault when fentanyl kills.

A city built below sea level in hurricane country, what could go wrong with that?

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