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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Questions And Answers

Nola.com has an interesting post regarding the floodwalls that failed in New Orleans. Why did they fail?
"Why did we have no hurricane levee failures but five separate places with floodwall failures?" asked Joseph Suhayda, a retired LSU coastal engineer who examined the breaches last week. "That suggests there may be something about floodwalls that makes them more susceptible to failure. Did (the storm) exceed design conditions? What were the conditions? What about the construction?"

Ivor Van Heerden, who uses computer models to study storm-surge dynamics for the LSU Hurricane Center, has said that fragmentary initial data indicate that Katrina's storm-surge heights in Lake Pontchartrain would not have been high enough to top the canal walls and that a "catastrophic structural failure" occurred in the floodwalls. ...

Floodwalls were breached in the 17th Street Canal, at two places in the London Avenue Canal, and at two places in the Industrial Canal, Suhayda said. Naomi said last week that one of the Industrial Canal breaches likely was caused by a loose barge that broke through it.

Suhayda said that his inspection of the debris from the 17th Street Canal breach suggests the wall simply gave way. "It looks to have been laterally pushed, not scoured in back with dirt being removed in pieces," he said. "You can see levee material, some distance pushed inside the floodwall area, like a bulldozer pushed it."

He suggested that because the walls failed in a few spots, the flaw may not be in the design but in the construction or materials.
Well, they were known to be vulnerable to overtopping and I have read reports that at least one in a parish (I think this was one of the Industrial Canal breaks) of them did look like a "waterfall" before it breached. This is obviously a huge safety issue going into the future.

Howard of Oraculations has an interesting post on the UN reform efforts. The New Orleans Port has reopened and its airport is beginning to accept commercial flights:
Nearly two-thirds of southeastern Louisiana's water treatment plants were up and running, and 41 of New Orleans' 174 permanent pumps were operational. Officials expect the still half-flooded city to be completely drained by Oct. 8.
This is moving along very fast. The official LA death toll is now at 280, but that is bound to increase. I hope a survey of the levee system is planned before they encourage people to go back into the lower-lying areas though.

In the meantime, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates again. The Pentagon admits that it now has five people supporting the contention that Able Danger identified Atta. Bush says that he has concerns about America's ability to deal with a severe terrorist attack:
"Given what happened with Katrina, shouldn't Americans be concerned their government isn't prepared to respond to another disaster or even a terrorist attack?" a reporter asked.

Responded Bush: "Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all level of government, and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right I take responsibility."

The president said he wants to know exactly went wrong in relation to Katrina response so he can answer the question "Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack?"

"That's a very important question," he said.
There is always room to improve, but power is pretty much back on in most of Alabama and Mississippi, and this recovery effort is proceeding along rapidly in NO. I would be rather disheartened if I were an Islamic terrorist or a Chinese general. You would have to employ a large number of nuclear devices to generate this much destruction.

There is only one obvious tactic for the terrorists to take, and that is to knock out economic infrastructure by contaminating a few large areas with radiation. We are now going to have to concentrate on setting up alternative processing centers for our major transactions and mandating that companies have alternate processing centers for use. The fed has been consolidating when it needs to diversify and they relaxed the original regulations about diversification of company resources because they were hurting the cities too much. Bad move.

As for the Chinese, they will be thinking EMP bursts. I don't think they have safe bioweapons yet. The ports remain vulnerable, but to succeed several of them have to be knocked out at once. Chief No Nag thinks that China would try to knock out the Panama Canal as part of this strategy. Will China ever attack directly unless it believes it can deliver a knockout blow? Probably not. And can they count on getting enough loyally suicidal agents in place to do what they must? Probably not.

Would China give weapons to Islamic terrorists to attempt a cloaked attack? That is a very interesting question but a cautious approach would be to assume that they would. I find it rather comforting that China appears to be having its own problem with Islamicists, but I don't want to depend on that.

Have a good day!

Comments:
a) if they were to use nuclear devices, i don't think there is much reason getting the water and sewage flowing agian since no one would live there for quite some time.

b) I don't think China is even on the radar screen when it comes to potential threats right now. Maybe in 100 years. But, we fuel their economy. It would be like us nuking all the oil feilds in the middle east so they couldn't pump any more oil. Makes no sense.
 
Another thought just ocurred to me: Just after the flooding started I got an email or a comment on my blog from a New Orleans resident to the effect that it was all the new construction that failed and not the old levees, leading to the speculation on his part that there was corruption involved in the letting of the contracts and the building and safety inspection of the walls involved.
 
Howard, I think there was a hint of that in the Nola.com post. It definitely makes you wonder. The failures and the type of failures produced massive flooding that killed a lot of people. Not knowing what happened ought to make us all quite uneasy.

Dingo - oh, no, bud. China is a threat to world peace right now. They are and have been very worried about falling further behind and losing control of the country. They are very possibly now in a situation much like that of Japan's before Pearl Harbor. What some arguing internally is that they must move now, or lose the ability to move at all.
 
Maybe it was human error: On the Levees of New Orleans (Update 7)
 
It serves them nothing to destabilize the west right now. They didn't even obstruct the US getting the UN resolution on Iraq. They don't have the military strength to do anything at this point and would cripple their economy. They don't even have the naval resources to protect their sea routs for bringing in oil and other resources, etc. They would be crushed and they know it. On the same note, it is not like the US and China are even competing for the same resources at this point. We have both created our own sphere of influences when it comes to oil importation.

I think you have been listening to the wrong people on this one. It makes no sense for them to embark on a capitalistic reform only to shoot yourself in the foot 10 years into a 70 year project.

Like I said, maybe in many moons they will be a strategic threat, but no time soon. Only one thing will start a war with them right now, and that is Taiwan.
 
Snort. Their own government ministers are quite worried. I have been reading the Chinese press.

Riots, rage and a destabilized economy have the military and the party shaking in its boots.

You are assuming they have a stable situation. They don't.
 
I don't assume they are stable. But when you are standing on only one pillar (economic prosperity) you don't cut that out from underneith you.

Yes, they may have some old generals you would like war at any costs with whoever. But we have had plenty of them in the US also.
 
Mickey greets Hong Kong - does this sound like a nation on the verge of attack?
 
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