Katrina Lessons
And then the levees broke
Today is two years since Katrina roared ashore, flooding St. Bernard, Plaquemines and New Orleans. A 15-foot tidal surge destroyed all waterfront homes from Mandeville to Slidell. A 30-foot tidal surge destroyed all waterfront homes along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
By sunrise tidal surge was so high that water was coming over levees. In some places it scoured out the soil, causing the levee to fail. We hear that by 7 a.m. the infamous 17th Street Canal breach began flooding the Lakeview neighborhood. In Plaquemines homes were destroyed first by wind, then washed away. In St. Bernard and New Orleans, rapidly rising water sent residents scurrying for their attics. Many drowned as their homes flooded.
Why didn’t those people leave? Like some of their elected officials, they lived in denial of how bad a hurricane can be.
When the network news hit that evening, every news crew was reporting that New Orleans had dodged the bullet. They were wrong.
New Orleans leaders told neither the citizens nor the media that the city was flooding. Why?
After the winds and rain stopped, what means could have been used to notify homeowners to evacuate and move to higher ground?
At that time, many portions of the communications system still worked. It wasn’t until after the flooding that all systems completely failed. Could police have used loud speakers? Could announcements been made from helicopters? I wonder.
Today is two years since Katrina.  
The recovery goes on. I still have a lot of unanswered questions about human behavior, whether it is the mayor who can’t communicate urgency in a timely manner, or the citizen that lives in denial and can’t exercise personal responsibility.  The price they paid was too great.
The Times Picayune published a great web map showing the exact time that flooding began. Please click on this link to view the maps:
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
...And Then the Levees Broke