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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Gulfport-Biloxi Update

The Clarion Ledger reports that authorities are confirming 100 dead in Harrison County, but fear that the final death toll will be considerably higher:
An emergency management official has confirmed more than 100 dead from Hurricane Katrina in the Biloxi-Gulfport area.

"We are very, very worried that this is going to go a lot higher," said Joe Spraggins, civil defense director for Harrison County, home to Biloxi and Gulfport. "We're just estimating but the number could go double or triple from what we're talking now."
It sounds like most of those were in Biloxi, but who knows. Apartment buildings were pulled right off their foundations.

The HoustonChronicle reports that authorities are still trying to dam the 17th Street levee break in New Orleans:
Tonight they put the plan into action. They were filling 3,000-pound cargo containers full of sand, rock or other heavy materials. They intended to fly these containers and 180 concrete barriers by helicopter to the site, and place them into the breach.

Succeeding will be difficult from the air alone, engineers said. And, after the corps drops each cargo container and concrete barrier into the breach, water will flow through the remaining hole faster and with more force.
They are also wondering how the breach occurred, and theories abound:
Corps of Engineers officials said their analysis indicated that a limited amount of water washed over the top of the levee in waves, scouring and weakening the foundation on the levee's dry side.

Suhayda said that's possible. But another possibility is that, during the half-day floodwaters built up in Lake Pontchartrain and the canal, water may have percolated through the earthen part of the berm, undermining it.
Let's hope other levees don't get undermined. One report from a PA trainee working in a hotel reported that the river reversed course before the hurricane, so a lot of pressure must have built up back there.

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