Saturday, November 19, 2005

Katrina Encours et Toujours XXVII

I have let this ball drop quite a bit in the past 6 weeks, and I'm afraid that postings will probably not rise above once a week until mid-December, when I return to New Orleans itself and should have a lot more to contribute. There's a lot here, though, so I hope you give some of it a look.

In the past week, I have tried to do two little things to help New Orleans from afar, neither of which will amount to much I'm afraid. On Wednesday morning I addressed my local Rotary Club with a slide show about Katrina, appealing to the audience to write their Congressional representatives to get them to support a Federal statement stating that the US Govt is committed to improving NO's levee system and coastal restoration efforts to the level of withstanding a Cat 5 storm. I told them that this would cost an estimated 20-30 billion USD over 20 years, and that without it NO would never recover. Let's just say the reception was tepid, to say the least. When I contrasted (verbally, I wish I had the visuals that are lost in my inbox somewhere) Dutch, Italian, and British efforts against the sea, one attendee simply said "do they ever see Cat 5 storms?" I responded that Holland sees strong storms daily and that NO has been there since the 1720's and has never saw anything like Katrina, so therefore the engineering should be within reach. She harrumphed. The rest of the audience was quiet, as they silently thought about their tax dollars slowly drained away to support a bunch of po folk in the swamps. I closed with the proposition of "which would you prefer, six more months in Iraq, or rebuilding NO?" They remained non-committal. Pathetic, and it got me thinking more and more about secession.

The second thing I tried to do was to get my professional association to commit to holding their next unscheduled convention in New Orleans. I did this by emailing our upcoming Association President. He said he'd mention it at the business meeting this next week. They came to NO in the 1980's and everyone says a great time was had by all (imagine that). Unfortunately for NO, we're a small convention (ca. 1000 attendees), and our conventions are committed up until 2011! So, even if we schedule NO for 2012, it'll be after the upcoming 4-5 crucial years will have played out.

On to the clippings.

1) Here's a posting by Chris Wiseman, fellow Blue Jay (local reference) and activist. I haven't heard the commentary yet, but Chris says it relates to national responsibilities vis-a-vis NO reconstruction:

Comrades & Family,

Just found out via the web that my commentary ran today (Friday, November 18, 2005) on Marketplace’s evening show.

For what it’s worth, the link is here:

Special thanks to my friend Deborah Clark for helping me get a little word out about the Gulf Coast. Very special thanks to my friends Armand St. Martin and Patty Lee for recording my bit in their recently flooded and now under-repair home.

Peace,Chris Wiseman
New Orleans

2) And here is Chris's original blog announcement. Give it a look, because he is there and I am here. He has been quite active since he set this up, and there's a lot of great nuggets there:

To work out some of my thoughts and observations and experiences regarding these extraordinary times in New Orleans, I’ve joined the stampede to the blogosphere.

If you feel like checking it out (and even putting me in my place), here’s the address:

Enjoy, ignore, or enjoy by ignoring.
Chris Wiseman

3) This website is a New Orleans ripoff of The Onion, and it's usufruckin fantastic. The jokes are extremely local, though, so treat it as a test of how local you are or have been in recent years. In intent, it's wonderful. And for you NYC supporters of NO, here's your platform:

4) Allright, I know y'all have a short attention span, so I put this activist notice near the beginning of the post, in order to beg you to save NO through contacting your local Rep:

In 15 minutes, your friends and family can help make stronger levees for New Orleans a reality. Ask your friends and family who live OUTSIDE of Louisiana to send letters to their senators urging support for strengthening New Orleans levees to withstand a Cat 5 storm surge. Studies released daily show that the current levee system is antiquated and appropriate for farmland, not a major city. If the government sees the need to build a proper levee system, then New Orleans residents and businesses will return. Letters to non-Louisiana politicians are a powerful thing and can make a difference for you. Your family and friends can email their senators by typing:

So Hillary Clinton'swebsite is Click on "contact" and follow the easy directions. They can also send a snail mail letter or call. One freshman representative who would be great to write is Rep.Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska who grew up in Baton Rouge; another is Rep. John Linder of Georgia, brother of Bill Linder of WH Linder and Associates in New Orleans. Those letters make a difference and also spread the word that the federal government's incompetence caused hundreds of deaths and the destruction of thousands of peoples' homes andlivelihoods.

Your levee champion,Sandy Rosenthal

5) Here's another neat Katrina link, pertaining to St. Bernard Parish:

6) Here's some bathroom graffiti from Markey's in Bywater (must be read with a Yat accent): "I once knew a girl named KatrinaI thought I'd be so happy to see herBut she came into town and blew me aroundAnd now I'm hangin out with Fema"

7) Here are some LA government docs concerning Katrina:

8) Here's another posting by Jordan:

FACING SOUTH: Who's watching the Gulf?

FACING SOUTH A Progressive ReportNovember 14, 2005

Dear Friends,

Around much of the Gulf Coast coast, there's an eerysilence. It's been over two months since thehurricanes. The flood waters have receded, and the TVcameras are nearly all gone.

But for those living in the hurricane-ravaged South,the struggle for the region's future has just begun.
While Gulf residents focus on picking up the pieces, ahandful of powerful interests -- well-connectedcontractors, unscrupulous developers, ambitiouspoliticians -- are cutting deals and hatching plans tocapitalize on the disaster.

But who's watching them?

We are. Today, the Institute for Southern Studies andSouthern Exposure have launched an urgent new projectto watch-dog what's happening in the Southern Gulf,and promote a more democratic and accountable future:Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch.

And we need your help to make it a success.

We're bringing together a talented team ofinvestigative reporters, community leaders, bloggers,and others to deliver coverage you won't find anywhereelse.

We are going to watch the power-brokers and follow themoney. We'll tell you who stands to gain, who's beingleft out, and what it means for the South and country.

We'll also introduce you to ordinary people who aredoing extraordinary things to make their communitiesbetter.

Now we need you. Here's how you can help:

1) Be a Gulf Watcher: Active readers like you can helpus find important news and leads. Send us an anonymoustip here:

2) Get Active: Reconstruction Watch will featureregular action steps you can take to support thoseworking for a just and accountable rebuilding in theGulf.

3) Support our Investigative Fund: Contributions fromreaders like you are what make our award-winninginvestigative reports and progressive voice possible.Your support today will help us expand our coverageand increase the impact of Reconstruction Watch.

We need to raise $20,000 to fully launchReconstruction Watch, and you can help us reach thatgoal. Please take a moment and make a tax-deductiblecontribution to our Investigative Fund today:

Thank you for your support!
Chris KrommDirector, Institute for Southern Studies

P.S. -- Your tax-deductible contribution of $35, $50or more today will help us expose what's happening inthe Gulf and put Katrina back on the national agenda.Join us today!

GOAL: $20,000Quick Links...NEW! Gulf Coast Reconstruction WatchJoin or ContributeInstitute HomeFacing South Blog
Join our mailing list!email: chris@southernstudies.orgweb:

9) Here's an excellent article about architects' ideas about what to do with the mess we're left with:,1282,-5411827,00.html

Architects Envision New Orleans Rebuilding

Sunday November 13, 2005 11:16 AM

AP Photo LASS101
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Michael Willis has designed anairport terminal in San Francisco and a 750million-gallon water treatment plant in Los Angeles,but nothing on the architect's resume gives him ablueprint for rebuilding New Orleans.

Not since the Nazi blitz of London or the bombing ofHiroshima have architects and urban planners seen aproject on par with resurrecting thishurricane-ravaged city, according to Willis.

``The scale of it overwhelms the normal city planningprocess,'' he said Saturday during a break at theLouisiana Recovery and Rebuilding Conference, astate-sponsored event organized by the AmericanInstitute of Architects to discuss the city's future.

Hundreds of civic and business leaders, electedofficials and planning experts have been weighing theoptions during the three-day conference that wrappedup Saturday. The goal: come up with written agenda tohelp guide the massive rebuilding effort.

``Before you can plan something like this, you have toget the fundamentals. You've got to work theprinciples out,'' said Ron Faucheux, head ofgovernment affairs for the Washington-based AIA.

Several architects, including Willis, urged civicleaders to avoid a ``one-size-fits-all'' approach.
This is a unique opportunity to create ``walkable,''densely populated neighborhoods with a rich texture ofdemographic and architectural diversity, said DavidDixon, a principal at the Boston-based Goody, Clancyarchitectural firm.

``New Orleans can go one of two directions: It can beLas Vegas, a city based on entertainment,'' he said,``or it can be America's greenest, most walkablecity.''

Preserving historic architecture must be a guidingprinciple for any approach, Willis said.

``At the end of the day, it's got to look and feellike New Orleans,'' he said.

For the audience, though, the cost of rebuilding was amajor concern, and Dixon's suggestion that state andlocal officials share the financial burden with thefederal government didn't go over well.

``We don't have money. We have zero revenue at themoment,'' said city Councilwoman Jacquelyn BrechtelClarkson, who represents the French Quarter.

The mayor already cut the city's work force by half,the state is facing a nearly $1 billion deficit, andhundreds of businesses and homes that supported thecity's tax base have been destroyed.

Tom Reese, who works at Tulane University and hasresearched contemporary architecture, said thearchitects were ``selling dreams'' when they urgedcity leaders to embrace planning concepts like ``smartgrowth,'' ``green architecture'' and mixed-usedevelopments.

``There is so little discussion about the economicrealities of this region,'' he said. ``If you don'tknow that, you can't begin to create any kind ofsolution.''

10) has been running an excellent series comparing Dutch and Louisiana flood protection. Here's a recent installment:

Dutch system of flood control an engineering marvelSunday, November 13 2005By John McQuaidStaff writer
TER HEIJDE, NETHERLANDS -The North Sea's furiouswinters can kick up storm surges more than 13 feethigh - a lethal threat to a country where millionslive below sea level, some as much as 22 feet down.And the Dutch have devised a peerless system of flooddefenses - one of the world's engineering marvels - tokeep that water out.
Giant barriers straddle ocean inlets, their gatespoised to slam shut to repel the invading sea. Massiveearthen dams run for miles, blocking off vast areasonce open to the North Sea, now converted tofreshwater lakes and new living space.
Those are among the master strokes. But the Dutchsystem is also noted for its subtlety. The only thinglying between the tiny red-roofed village of TerHeijde and the sea, a scant 200 yards away, is a bigpile of sand.
It's no ordinary dune, however. Monitored andmaintained with obsessive care, it's built to absorbpounding blows from ocean waves. It may erode,requiring repair, but it won't fall down. It'sengineered to fail less than once every 10,000 years,making it 50 times safer than the New Orleans leveeswere supposed to be before Hurricane Katrinaoverwhelmed them.
But authorities aren't complacent about those numbers.Concerned about projected sea level rise, thegovernment is studying how to further fortify thedune. "It's adequate, but we do know we will need moreprotection for the future, " said Ter Heijde nativeJacqueline Voois. "Growing up here, you learn youcan't trust the sea. "
The Netherlands' flood defenses - a sculpted landscapeof dunes, dikes, dams, barriers, sluices and pumpsdesigned to repel the twin threats of ocean stormsurges and river flooding - are light years ahead ofthe New Orleans area's busted-up levee system.
As American policymakers and the Army Corps ofEngineers study how to rebuild the levees to protectagainst a Category 5 hurricane, Dutch engineers saythey can learn a lot from the Dutch model, where allelements - from structural engineering to long-termpolicymaking - fit seamlessly together.
"Your levee system doesn't appear to have beendesigned as a system. It's designed in a veryhaphazard way. One structure built one way, one builtanother, " said Jurjen Battjes, a professor emeritusof engineering at the Technical University of Delftand a member of the American Society of CivilEngineers team investigating the New Orleans levees.
"They can move vehicles on Mars. Why should yoursystem fail because of a wall collapsing or because anoperator left the pumping station? "
State to look closely
There was a time when New Orleans led the world inflood control and the Netherlands looked west forguidance, importing the huge screw pumps designed byAlbert Baldwin Wood that had drained low-lying areasand greatly expanded New Orleans' habitable turf.Today, the Dutch system offers a trove of examples,from policy ideas to engineering fixes, that could beuseful to New Orleans. Indeed, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieunext month will lead a delegation of Louisianaofficials and congressional colleagues to theNetherlands to study them.
Like New Orleans, which built up its river leveesafter the 1927 flood and its hurricane levees afterBetsy in 1965, the Dutch system has been forged indisaster. But the Dutch have a lot more disasterexperience, and it shows.
For the past 1,000 years they have sculpted andresculpted their landscape to repel floods, only tosee it repeatedly inundated - most recently by a 1953North Sea storm surge that killed more than 1,800people. Each time, they have rebuilt bigger, betterand with greater sophistication. Flood protection isthe number one national priority, and that isreflected not only in dikes and barriers but inpolitics, budgets and the concerns of everydaycitizens.
Their philosophy, shaped by centuries of combatingfloods, is to fight water - but also to accommodate itrather than just containing it, preserving naturalflows where possible. "There's one important lessonwe've learned as Dutch - we're fighting a heroic fightagainst nature, the sea and the rivers, " said TedSluijter, a spokesman for the giant Eastern Scheldestorm surge barrier. "But if you fight nature, natureis going to strike back. Water needs space. "
The Netherlands learned such lessons by trial anderror over the centuries. To a far greater extent thanin the United States, citizens' lives depend on flooddefenses. Studies show that without its elaboratenetwork of flood control structures, 65 percent of thecountry would be underwater.
The Dutch Ministry of Water, Public Works andTransportation spends $1.5 billion a year on flooddefense and water management. If the United Statesspent that much on a per-citizen basis, it would costupward of $30 billion annually, seven or eight timesthe Corps of Engineers' annual budget of $4 billion.
Sinking and sinking
The country's most densely populated region is builton what used to be low-lying marshes. Three riversflow out to the North Sea through the Netherlands: theRhine, the Meuse and the Schelde. For millennia thewestern part of the country consisted of estuaries andpeat bogs repeatedly reshaped by floods and tides.
But somehow the forebears of today's Dutch settledthese areas, leading a precarious existence on naturalor man-made ridges.
"There the ocean throws itself, two times a day, dailyand nightly, in a tremendous stream over a widecountry, so one doubts if the ground belongs to theland or to the sea, " wrote Roman philosopher Plinythe Elder, who as a soldier in the first century A.D.helped construct a canal in what would become theNetherlands. "There lives a miserable people at thehighest known levels of the tide and here they havebuilt their huts, living like sailors when the watercovers their environment and as if shipwrecked whenthe water has gone. "
Around 1000 A.D., Europe's population swelled andfarming expanded. The Dutch began to use limitedtechnologies and their own ingenuity to drain theswamps and keep them dry. Over the centuries, thetools grew more sophisticated and more and morepolders - drained areas ringed by dikes - werecreated.
But draining peat bogs has one major drawback: Theysink. Peat and clay soils contract when drained. Thelower they get, the more susceptible they become tofloods. The increased flooding in turn made people digtheir drainage ditches and canals ever deeper, avicious cycle that continues today. The problem,compounded by the loss of silting from rivers nowcontrolled by dikes, is similar to the subsidenceplaguing the New Orleans area.
Combined with gradually rising seas, the change isshocking. In 900, the Netherlands averaged more than12 feet above sea level. By 1500, it had dropped evenwith the sea. Today, it averages 8 feet below sealevel and is still dropping at the rate of a quarterinch each year.
Battles won by the sea
Holland's struggle with the sea has shaped itshistory, and every six generations or so has beenmarked by a terrible defeat, a catastrophic flood thathas swept over swaths of the country, destroyingdikes, homes, property and human lives. The Dutchlandscape is dotted with reminders of past floods andthe measures taken to ensure such a disaster wouldnever happen again.
The only thing left of Koudekerke, a villageoverlooking an estuary of the Schelde, is the PlompeToren, a brick church tower that casts a lonelysilhouette over nearby farms. A 16th-century floodswept away 13 villages, Koudekerke among them. Thetower was all that remained. Later rebuilt, it wasleveled again during World War II and permanentlyabandoned. A recording in the tower tells the legendof a merman who cursed fishermen from the village forcatching his wife.
Visible to the east is a breached dike from the 1953flood that was never repaired - authorities insteadopted to rebuild farther back from the water. The areabehind the breach is now a marsh. Visible to the westis the enormous Eastern Schelde storm barrier thatblocks North Sea surges from the estuary.
Completed in 1986, as part of $14.7 billion inpost-1953 improvements, the Eastern Schelde barrier isa monument to the Netherlands' innovative approach toflood control and includes features the corps islooking at for New Orleans.
Shortening the defenses
For centuries, the Dutch protected themselves byringing settled areas and farmland with dikes,essentially the same approach used in south Louisiana.But the 1953 flood revealed a big weakness in thatstrategy: Storm surge water could move far inlandthrough the estuaries, which were open to the sea.
This was also a key failing of the New Orleans system,Battjes and other Dutch engineers say: The region'slevee-lined canals were conduits for Katrina's stormsurge to pour into the heart of the city. From theeast, water flowed into the Intracoastal Waterway andIndustrial Canal, where floodwalls were topped andthen collapsed, flooding the Lower 9th Ward, St.Bernard Parish and eastern New Orleans. From LakePontchartrain, it flowed into the 17th Street andLondon Avenue drainage canals, which were breached,flooding central New Orleans.
In the wake of the 1953 flood, engineers andpolicy-makers presented the Netherlands with a choice:They could build dikes higher and stronger as they hadalways done in the past. Or they could take adifferent, more ambitious approach, building largebarriers across estuaries and other open waterways.
The second option had one crucial advantage: It wouldeffectively shorten the country's tortuously longcoastline by hundreds of miles. If the length of thecountry's defensive barrier shrank, the thinking went,so would the chance that a dike might fail at someunnoticed weak point and lead to a larger catastrophe.Many miles of older dikes would become secondary,backup protections.
"It's much more logical to shorten your line ofdefense, " said Battjes, the retired engineeringprofessor, who advised the new system's designers. "Tomake a military analogy, the water is the enemy. Youdon't let the enemy, before the fight starts,penetrate your territory. "
Installing surge gates
American engineers have begun looking at how toaddress this problem in a Category 5 design. Onesolution would be to put floodgates on some canals.Another would be to retool New Orleans'generations-old stormwater drainage system and movepump stations from the middle of town to thelakefront.
On a more ambitious scale, some officials suggestupgrading an old proposal to build a large levee andfloodgate system across the marshes to block surgesfrom entering the Chef Menteur and Rigolets passesinto the lake. An early version of the plan wasabandoned after environmentalists raised questionsabout impacts on marshlands.
The Netherlands example provides a template for how togo about this. Early Delta Works plans called for damsto be constructed across all the region's estuaries -just as the government had dammed off a 20-mileopening along the northern coastline in 1933, creatinga giant freshwater lake. But by the 1970s,environmentalists, commercial fishing organizationsand other groups were complaining that the completeddams were ruining the region's ecology.
They sparked a national debate and eventually acompromise, one that balanced storm defenses againstharm to the environment.
The largest result of the change is the enormousEastern Schelde storm surge barrier, a massive seriesof 62 floodgates snaking across the water. The gates,which range from 19 to 29 feet high, depending ontheir position on the barrier, are left open most ofthe time to allow tidal flows in and out, preservingthe estuary behind it. When the high-water alarmsounds - as it has on average twice a year since itopened - the gates are shut until the danger passes.
Thinking big from start
As a reminder of why the barrier is there, the heightof the 1953 flood - about 13 feet - is marked by athick red line at a point along the barrier's southernendpoint.
That reminder is also imbedded in the design DNA ofevery flood protection project in the country in theform of very high, legally mandated safety standards -something New Orleans most assuredly did not have.
The biggest flaw of New Orleans' pre-Katrina leveesystem was that it provided a low level of safety: Itwas built only to withstand storm surges from some,but not all, Category 3 hurricanes and was virtuallyguaranteed to fail in a stronger storm. In retrospect,engineers say it didn't even live up to its Category 3billing. In fact, no one knew precisely what level ofsafety it provided because of its many weak points,changes in the landscape over time and the corps'outdated assessments.
Such problems are inconceivable in the Netherlands.Urbanized areas of the country - such as the regionsurrounding Ter Heijde, which includes The Hague andRotterdam - are engineered to withstand the kind ofstorm surge that comes only once in 10,000 years. Moresparsely populated areas, such as those protected bythe Delta Works, are safe against a 1-in-4,000-yearflood. The lowest level of protection, found in ruralareas, is for a 1-in-1,250-year flood. All are manytimes safer than New Orleans ever was.
Feeling safer
Those numbers are more than risk calculations. In asense, they're as much the bedrock of the nation'sflood security as any dike or barrier. Everybody knowsthose numbers. They reassure citizens, many of whomnow take sound flood protection for granted.
"We feel safe - nobody is afraid. Nobody's thinking,when is the water coming? " said Andre van der Beek, ahome care worker in Nieuw-Lekkerland, who paused fromriding his bike near a line of 200-year-old windmillsand two pumping stations, all built to keep waterlevels down. "There are a lot of believers here, andthey believe the story of Noah, that God promised inGenesis there would not be another flood. "
But the water is still rising, and the land issinking, and because of those changes in thelandscape, Dutch officials say that some dikes andother parts of the system no longer meet thestandards. So they are giving the whole thing atop-to-bottom review to identify emerging weaknesses.Vigilance, they say, must be eternal.
"We are not going to allow the level of protection todecrease, " said Marion Smit, the Water andTransportation Ministry's top water policy official.
Achieving that long-term resoluteness might prove tobe the single greatest challenge facing New Orleans.Flood control is a national religion in theNetherlands. In 49 U.S. states, it's Louisiana'sproblem.
John McQuaid can be reached or (202) 383-7889.

11) What's troubling about this analysis is that it does make some sense. If SE Louisiana is slipping into the Gulf, what are we meant to do after all? I don't agree with him, but his argument is devoid of stupidity and actually makes a formidable case. My answer would be that with sufficient commitment, wecould save SE LA with coastal restoration -- in order to slowly correct the unfortunate engineering which has been the reason we've been sinking since they started putting levees in back in the 1920's...While I think he makes some valid points, I also think that the process is reversible and that he's a water engineer trying to pad his CV with the worst case scenario op-ed in a major newspaper (hell, we all do it) -- and I don't agree with his conclusion. We can beat this, which entailes zoning laws requiring houses on stilts from here on out, higher levees, and a major engineering initiative to restore the wetlands south of the city.
Unfortunately, outside of the Port of New Orleans itself, there isn't an ironclad economic case for saving SE LA that would appeal to the good citizens of, say, Iowa. I suppose we could continue to retrench up the Mississip until it's, er, St. Louis sitting on the coast instead of us -- but maybe someone would do something before it gets that far. Hard to know for sure, in this particular insane asylum that is "These United States":
Time to move to higher groundBy Timothy M. Kusky September 25, 2005
New Orleans is one of America's great historic cities, and our emotional response to the disaster is to rebuild it grander and greater than before. However this may not be the most rational or scientifically sound response and could lead to even greater human catastrophe and financial loss in the future.
New Orleans is located on a coastal delta basin up to 10 feet below sea level [ACTUALLY I ALWAYS THOUGHT IT WAS ONLY 4 FT, BUT WHO'S COUNTING?] and still sinking as much as one inch per year. Much of the city could be 18 feet below sea level by the end of the century, or even more if sea level rise becomes significant.
The city has other problems of location. To protect communities along the Mississippi River, the Army Corps of Engineers built a 2,000 mile long system of levees [OF WHICH ONLY ABOUT 200 MILES ARE N.O.] that help prevent river flood waters surging from the channel and inundating low lying areas. However, the levees also channel sediments that normally get deposited on the flood plain and delta far out into the Gulf of Mexico, causing the land surface of the delta south of New Orleans to sink below sea level at an alarming rate. A total land area the size of Manhattan is disappearing every year, meaning that New Orleans will be right on the Gulf Coast by the end of the century.
The projected setting of the city in 2100 is in a hole up to 18 feet below sea level directly on the hurricane-prone coast. The city will look like a fish tank battered by coastal waves, surrounded by 50- to 100-foot-high seawalls that are barely able to protect it from hurricanes that are only as strong as Katrina. Such a city is untenable, and we as a nation need to face this reality.
The levees have an additional collateral effect that may doom the future of New Orleans. A river confined by levees builds its base higher than without levees. Catastrophic floods occur when the river base rises tens of feet above the flood plains, then breaks through the levees. The Chinese know this from their history of flooding along the Yellow River, known as the River of Sorrow after the millions of people who have died there, more than from any other natural disaster in the world. As we consider rebuilding New Orleans we need to remember China's experience.
The Mississippi has over geological time altered its course, with its mouth migrating east and west by hundreds of miles. Each abandoned delta subsides below sea level after the river jumps to another location, as buried muds compact and the river no longer replenishes the delta with sediment. The lower Mississippi now follows a long and circuitous course from the Atchafalaya River junction, through New Orleans, to its mouth near Venice. The river is ready to switch its course to follow the Atchafalaya, offering it a shorter route to the gulf. When this occurs, perhaps triggered by catastrophic flooding and a drenching hurricane, it will be devastating to the lower delta, which will quickly subside. New Orleans will be rapidly inundated by waves and storms from the Gulf of Mexico. To mitigate this hazard the Army Corps maintains an extensive system of diversions, levees, and dams at the Mississippi/Atchafalaya junction, with the aim of keeping the Mississippi in its channel.
New Orleans is sinking further below sea level every year, and the shoreline is rapidly approaching the city. The river is rising, and more hurricanes and floods are certain to strike the region in the next 100 years. The decision whether to rebuild or relocate an historic city is a difficult one. Moving the bulk of the city would be more costly, at least at this stage before sinking increases and another disaster strikes. The costs of either decision will be enormous, but relocating makes more sense and will eventually be inevitable. Whether we cut our losses now and move or wait until a super-hurricane makes a direct hit and kills hundreds of thousands of people must be carefully considered.
One option would be to begin building newer, higher, stronger seawalls around the business and historic parts of the city, and declare other parts a national monument, in tribute to those who lost their lives to Katrina. The process of moving could be gradual, relocating refugees, destroyed businesses, port facilities, and other infrastructure to a new New Orleans.
Katrina (even before Rita) was a warning: New Orleans is sinking unbearably below sea level, and it's time to move to higher ground.
Timothy M. Kusky is a professor of natural sciences at Saint Louis University.
© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

12) This analysis makes a lot more sense to me than the idea of just "cutting and running" on NO and moving to higher ground. This is where it's at. Again, the T-P is rising above it's lame past:
Friday, November 18, 2005 Consultants to city: Shrink livable areas
By Martha Carr Staff writer
In the most comprehensive recovery plan proposed todate, a panel of more than 50 specialists in urban andpost-disaster planning said New Orleans shouldconcentrate its rebuilding efforts on the sections ofthe city that occupy the high ground, while securinglower-lying areas for potential rebirth in thelong-term.
Tackling what is certain to be the most controversialaspect of any rebuilding plan, the contingent from theUrban Land Institute said Friday that the city shoulduse its original footprint, as well as lessons learnedfrom Hurricane Katrina, as a guide in determining whatareas are most logical for redevelopment.
Firing off a collection of bold ideas, the group alsoproposed creating a public development corporationthat would buy and sell property to speed the city’sredevelopment; establishing an oversight board withbroad powers over the city’s finances; and engineeringa secondary flood-control network inside the city thatwould use natural ridges, levees, water reservoirs,and green space to stop widespread flooding.
The panelists, many of whom helped rebuild cities likeNew York after 9/11 and Los Angeles after theNorthridge earthquake in 1994, said it’s not practicalto redevelop every acre of New Orleans in theshort-term, considering that 300,000 residents and160,000 jobs have been lost. It’s also not sociallyequitable to allow residents back into neighborhoodsthat do not have adequate levee protection and may betoxic.
“These areas are going to take more data gathering andmore time,” said Joseph Brown, president of EDAW, aSan Francisco-based architecture and environmentconsulting company. “Some collective action may beneeded here.”
The group went so far as to draft a color-coded map ofthe city showing three “investment zones” the city maywant to follow. The first zone included the high partsof the city, like Uptown and the French Quarter, whichpanelists say is ready for rehabilitation immediately.The second zone highlighted the mid-ground, which thepanel suggested is also ready for individualrehabilitation, with some opportunities to puttogether parcels of land for green space orredevelopment.
The last zone, which included some of the city’shardest hit neighborhoods, needs additional study, butcould have the potential for mass buyouts and futuregreen space, the panel said. Those areas include mostof New Orleans east, Gentilly and Desire; the northernpart of Lakeview; and parts of the Lower 9th Ward,Broadmoor, Mid-City and Hollygrove.
In those neighborhoods, the panel emphasized that allhomeowners should be compensated for their property atpre-Katrina values. They also stressed that if theworst-hit areas are allowed to redevelop in ascattershot way, homeowners will begin to rehab houseson partially abandoned streets, creating the shantytowns with little to no property value.
The panel’s map also included green areas runningalong natural ridges and between neighborhoods, wheremembers suggest creating a network of flood-protectionmeasures, from inner-city levees to new parks, toreduce the risk of flooding and stop waters fromblanketing the city.
While the proposal was immediately questioned by NewOrleans City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis, whorepresents eastern New Orleans and the Lower 9th Ward,others attending the panel’s presentation were morereceptive to the idea, but questioned whether thepolitical will exists to make it happen.
“This is going to take tremendous will on our part,”said New Orleans resident Jean Nathan. “I think we aregoing to need help on a sustained basis.”
The map wasn’t the panel’s only daring concept.
The group called for the creation of the Crescent CityRebuilding Authority, a non-profit developmentcorporation that would be in charge of all fundsfunneled into the city for the rebuilding effort.
The corporation, to be created by the statelegislature, would have the power to do land banking,buy homes and property, purchase and restructuremortgages, finance redevelopment projects, issuebonds, assist with neighborhood planning, and fosterthe creation of community development corporations.
While the city already has a redevelopmentauthority——NORA——ULI panelists said the agency is weakand not suitable for the monumental task of assemblingland and orchestrating mass rebuilding efforts.
Panelists also said their concept differs from theLouisiana Recovery Authority currently proposed byU.S. Congressman Richard Baker. That agency would betotally controlled by the federal government. The CCRAboard, on the other hand, would have appointees namedby the President, Governor, Mayor and City Council.Both entities may be able to work in concert if theconcepts are tweaked, panelists said.
Carl Weisbrod, president of Trinity Church RealEstate——one of New York City’s biggest commercialproperty owners——said that it only took 10 weeks after9/11 for that city’s leadership to band together andcreate the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation,signaling to the federal government that everyone wason the same page. That group has served as the city’scentral rebuilding agency.
“We put our differences aside for a short period oftime to address the immediate challenges,” saidWeisbrod, who served on the LMDC’s board. “Because ofthat, we were able to get immediate federal aid.”
It’s too late for the CCRA idea to be taken up in thecurrent legislative session, which ends Tuesday. Butlegislators could consider the idea in January, whenthey are expected to convene a second special session.Weisbrod said ULI has not lobbied for the idea at thestate level. Members of Mayor Ray Nagin’s Bring NewOrleans Back Commission on Friday said they werehearing the proposal for the first time.
The Urban Land Institute was paired with Nagin’scommission shortly after Hurricane Katrina by localdeveloper Joe Cannizaro, who serves on the commissionand is also former chairman of the WashingtonD.C.-based think tank.
The group has spent the last several weeks workingpro-bono to advise the 17-member commission as itattempts to develop a comprehensive rebuildingstrategy by year’s end. All of the experts whoparticipated on the week-long panel, most of whom runmajor corporations or municipalities——like PittsburghMayor Tom Murphy and Manhattan burrow president C.Virginia Fields——volunteered their time to serve. Thegroup has also committed to long-term assistance inNew Orleans, as well as in Baton Rouge and WashingtonD.C.
Their final report is due next month.
“All of us who went through this process are hookedbecause you all became part of our team,” said ULIpresident Marilyn Taylor. “If you will have us, wewill be with you continuing to help.”
Ten members of the mayor’s commission were present forthe report at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. Nagin,however, was in Washington D.C.meeting with federallawmakers.
Other recommendations of the panel included creating atemporary financial oversight board to help the cityavoid bankruptcy; reforming the city’s tax code;creating an internal system of levees and canals thatwould serve as secondary protection and enhance greenspace; and consolidating fragmented agencies to take aregional approach to levee protection, transitservices, emergency response and economic development.
Murphy said the financial oversight board, which wouldbe created by the Legislature and run by appointeesfrom all levels of government, would oversee andapprove the city’s budget, approve major contracts,and recommend financing options for redevelopment. Inthe end, it would create a layer of accountabilitythat could alleviate the concerns of federal lawmakersthat money will be misspent. The panel alsorecommended that the city create an Inspector Generaland Board of Ethics as authorized in the City Charter.
“There are interests here who want the rules to stayas they are,” he said. “It won’t be pretty. You haveto be willing for some conflict.”
Murphy also said the tax structure, which was cobbledtogether over 200 years, must be changed to deal withthe absence of tax revenue in post-Katrina reality:especially when it comes to the city’s practice ofunder assessing property.
“Your tax structure stinks and you need to change it,”said Pittsburgh Mayor Murphy. “We are makingrecommendations for tough love here.”
On the economic development front, the panelrecommended focusing on the city’s traditionaleconomic sectors, like tourism and shipping, butplacing new emphasis on the music business and thehealth care and biosciences sector. Key to the city’sgrowth is bringing back musicians, finding them work,and getting them equipment. Same with the city’s keymedical researchers and institutions, they said.
As for the cityscape, the panel embraced the ideas setforth by the Louisiana Recovery and RebuildingConference last week, mainly the use of smart growthprincipals, including advocating for levee and wetlandimprovements, developing local and regionaltransportation systems that connect neighborhoods, andbuilding in areas that are safe and non-toxic. Thepanel advocated for rehabilitating historicproperties, building infill housing in existingneighborhoods, and increasing green spaces by buildingcorridors, bike paths and parks that connect areas.
Throughout their presentation, the experts emphasizedthe need to set short-term benchmarks for success, andto break the planning into three phases: the recoverystage, which should last through Aug. 2006; therebuilding stage, which should go from 2006 to 2010,and the growing stage, which would end in 2018, whenthe city celebrates it’s 300th anniversary.
Among the goals the panel set for the next few monthsis restoring electrical service to all neighborhoodsby January, creating benchmarks for toxicity levels byMarch, rebuilding levees to pre-Katrina levels andbuilding a protection system for pumps and watertreatment facilities by June, and stabilizing port andwater management facilities by August.
The group also urged urgent housing actions, includinggetting trailers to the area, repopulating suitablepublic housing, adopting a building code, askingfinancial institutions to extend mortgage forbearanceperiods, and creating centers where residents can gethelp rehabbing their homes.
“Your housing is now a public resource,” said TonySalazar, a developer with McCormack, Baron and Salazarin Los Angeles. “You can’t think of it as privateproperty any more.”
When the panel concluded its hour-long presentation,members of Nagin’s commission said they were extremelyimpressed by the detail of the draft report and thepanel’s wealth of ideas. While the ULI panel stoppedshort of advocating a merger of Nagin’s commission andGov. Blanco’s Louisiana Recovery Authority, it didstress that city and state leaders must craft a singlevision, and move more quickly in their rebuildingefforts.
“I appreciate your bluntness,” said commissionco-chair Barbara Major. “You have challenged us tomake more difficult and controversial choices. As myaunt used to say, ‘God can put a ram in a bush.’ Therehas to be some behavioral changes across the board. Ithink we just have to kick a little butt and do whatwe have to do.”
Before the panel submits a final report, it will holdtown hall meetings in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Houston,Dallas and Memphis. For more information, go
Martha Carr may be reached at mcarr@timespicayune.comor at (504) 826-3306.

13) Here's another local eyewitness report, relating to the father of a bartender we know in the Quarter:
In case you missed it, this is the story on Chart Room Lisa's Dad.

14) The Saints last week got another 2 year lease on life as a New Orleans franchise. I urge every New Orleanian to think of that timeframe as a game clock. We've got 2 years to hold on to all that's precious psychologically (i.e. the Saints). Get to work pressing them palms:
'Save the Saints' stops in New Orleans
By Jeff Duncan Staff writer
The “Save the Saints” road show will make a stop inNew Orleans on Monday night after a disappointingdebut Thursday in Baton Rouge.
In an effort to rally support for the Saints in theaftermath of Hurricane Katrina, state officials planto invite New Orleans-area business leaders Monday toa meeting at the New Orleans Convention and VisitorsBureau on St. Charles Avenue. No time has been set.
The effort is being headed by Louisiana Stadium andExposition District leaders, Tim Coulon, the SuperdomeCommission chairman;, Doug Thornton, regional vicepresident of SMG;, and Larry Roedel, the LSED’s leadattorney.
Thornton said he expects some Saints executives toattend and hopes to lure an executive from the NFLoffice, if possible.
“We’re committed to showing the league that we’regalvanized in our mission,” Thornton said.
Everyone involved is hoping for more support than wasshown in Baton Rouge, when a disappointing gatheringof about 30 business leaders from the area met withSaints and state officials to discuss ways they cansupport the team during the transition period. Stateofficials had invited around 200 business leaders tothe session.
Saints officials almost outnumbered the Baton Rougecontingent Thursday night. Owner-executive Rita BensonLeBlanc, Ggeneral Mmanager Mickey Loomis and chieffinancial officer Dennis Lauscha spoke to the groupand implored them for their support in the communityfor the final two games at Tiger Stadium.
“The turnout wasn’t as big as we expected, but it’s astart,” Roedel said.
Lauscha said the Saints (2-7) have sold less than30,000 tickets for their final two games at TigerStadium, against Tampa Bay on Dec. 4 and Carolina onDec. 18.
“It’s important to us an organization to show what wecan do,” he said.
LeBlanc said she understood the frustration fansexperienced in the first game at Baton Rouge againstMiami, when laborious ticket exchanges forced manyseason-ticket holders to miss parts of the game whilestanding in long lines.
She also defended her grandfather, owner Tom Benson,who, she said, has become “a punching bag” for fansand media this season and asked fans to move forwardand “prove that Louisiana can come together despiteemotional issues and differences.”
Former Gov. Charles “Buddy” Roemer, however, stole theshow. Speaking to the crowd after Saints and stateofficials had spoken, he delivered a heartfelt speechthat captured the room and challenged Saints officialsto keep the team in Louisiana.
“There is no excuse for the Saints to go anywhere,” hesaid. “I love the Saints, but I love the Saints fanseven more. They have stood by the Saints’ side for30-something years.”
Roemer asked LeBlanc to take a message to Benson.
“It’s time for your grandfather to say, ‘There’s noreason to go. I’m committed (to Louisiana),’¤” saidRoemer, who today develops retirement communitiesstatewide for a company in Baton Rouge. “The Saintsare our team. They’re not Tom Benson’s team.” 
Jeff Duncan can be reached or (504)¤826-3405.

15) This is precious, out of the Guardian, and discussing an Irish mayor somewhere. I'm guessing he's been to Bourbon St. in his day.:,16546,1646339,00.html
Katrina 'sent by God to punish New Orleans gays'
Angelique ChrisafisSaturday November 19, 2005The Guardian
A Democratic Unionist councillor who said hurricaneKatrina was sent to the US by God to punish the NewOrleans gay community yesterday stood by his viewsdespite calls for his resignation.Maurice Mills, twice mayor of Ballymena, said NewOrleans was about to host an annual gay pride festivalwhen God intervened through Katrina.
It was a warning to nations "where such wickedness isincreasingly promoted and practised". Northern Irelandgay rights campaigners said he should be sacked. Buthe said: "This is me as an individual taking a standfor God."

16) Bob Marshall has been doing some of the best reporting about the mechanics of the levee breaches. I think he was doing hunting and fishing reporting before Katrina...:
Water in yards could have been clue to breach
By Bob MarshallStaff writer
A year ago Beth LeBlanc and her neighbors on BellaireDrive had a problem no one could seem to fix. Theiryards, which swept to the base of the 17th StreetCanal levee, kept filling with water. Then on Aug. 29,as Hurricane Katrina moved out of the area, that leveecollapsed and tumbled into their homes, allowing LakePontchartrain and a world of misery to pour into thecity.
Now the residents of Bellaire Drive have questions.
"We called Sewerage & Water Board, and one of theirguys tested the water and said it was coming from thecanal," LeBlanc recalled. "They sent repair crews out.They tore up sidewalks and driveways. Things gotbetter, but it never got dry.
"So I keep wondering why no one ever came out to askabout it. No one from the Corps of Engineers. No onefrom the Levee Board. Sewerage & Water Board nevercame back."
The corps wonders as well.
"If someone had told us there was lake water on theoutside of that levee -- or any levee -- it would havebeen a red flag to us, and we would have been outthere, without question," said Jerry Colletti,operations manager for completed works at the corps’New Orleans office.
"We have nothing on that, nothing at all. That’ssomething we should have been told about."
But investigators on forensic engineering teamsprobing the failures said they aren’t surprised thecorps didn’t know about that leak -- or about numerousother leaks and problems with the levees thatresidents reported to them. That ignorance reflects aminefield of twisted bureaucratic jurisdictions, poorlevee maintenance, missed opportunities and suspectengineering they say likely contributed to thecostliest natural disaster in American history.
Interviews with Bellaire Drive residents; officials atthe corps, the Orleans Levee District and the Sewerage& Water Board; and engineers who investigated thebreaks paint a picture of a disaster that was bound tohappen.
"Certainly, that kind of leaking is a warning signthat should have raised alarms, that something waswrong with an important component of the hurricaneprotection in the city," said J. David Rogers of theUniversity of Missouri, a noted forensic engineer witha specialty on levees and floodwalls who led aninspection of the levee failures.
"But, sad to say," he said, "I’m not surprised if itwas missed." He said most of those on the forensicteams investigating the levee failures "do not knowwho has responsibility for what in New Orleans. That’sjust the opposite for the rest of the country wherelevees and dams and such are concerned.
"The residents were right to be concerned."....

17) There's also a great flood system series of articlesin right now comparing Dutch and New Orleansflood control systems. Give it a read -- and do theright thing.
Chafee: Government should consider high cost floodprotection
By Keith Darcé ûStaff writer û
The federal government should consider building anouter layer of flood protection structures beyond thetraditional levees around the New Orleans area, buthigh construction costs could block that from becominga reality, said U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a member ofa levee oversight committee who touredhurricane-devastated parts of the city Monday.
“That may be the route to go,” the Rhode IslandRepublican said while noting that an outer floodprotection system shielding the New Orleans area fromhurricane storm surges could cost $14 million for eachmile of structure.
“That’s expensive,” he said. “But then there is anenormous amount of revenue generated from the successof New Orleans. It’s a city that generates billionsand billions in revenue. That’s a factor.”
Chafee, who sits on the Senate Environment and PublicWorks Committee, which oversees levee construction,flew to New Orleans with Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La.,and David Vitter, R-La., on Monday morning. The grouptoured a home on Louis XIV Street in Lakeview and tooka driving tour of the Lower 9th Ward, stopping at thelevee breach along the Industrial Canal.
Chafee was stunned by the level of destruction. “Youhave to see it,” he said.
The visit was the latest in a series of trips byranking members of Congress to areas of the city thatwere hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.
The long-term viability and success of the region aretied to the eventual construction of an outer floodprotection system, Vitter said after a news conferencethat ended Chafee’s visit.
“Taking that next step is vital,” Vitter said.
In a closed-door presentation to the senators, ArmyCorps of Engineers representatives discussed thepossibility of building outer flood protectionstructures that would serve as a front-line defenseagainst Gulf of Mexico storm surges, similar to theseries of high-tech gates and barriers built in recentdecades by the Dutch to protect the Netherlands fromNorth Sea flooding, Vitter said. Traditional levees,which for New Orleans are now the primary and the lastline of defense, would remain in place as a secondlayer of protection.
Some people have suggested imitating the Dutch, whospent 40 years and $14.7 billion building a network ofbarriers, gates and dams after a disastrous flood in1953.
“You can’t build levees high enough around (NewOrleans). You have to go out,” Vitter said.
He said the corps engineers described a “veryconceptual” vision of an outer flood protection systemwithout specifying whether it would comprise levees,dams, gates or a combination of those structures. “Thebasic idea is to have an outer level of protectionfurther out from the city, particularly to the southand east,” he said.
The Louisiana senators are pushing for Congress toapprove by the end of the year financing for the corpsto study and design such a system, Vitter said.
A visit to New Orleans in late November by theNetherlands’ ambassador to the United States willprovide another opportunity to explore using Dutchflood control technology in Louisiana, Landrieu said.
Dutch officials also have agreed to host members ofCongress who want to visit the Netherlands to seetheir gates and barriers at work, she said.
“Whether we design a system like theirs isn’timportant. What is important is the chance to seetheir designs and ideas,” Landrieu said.
Meanwhile, money already is available for the corps torebuild by June the region’s existing levee system towithstand a storm surge from a Category 3 hurricane,Landrieu said. The work will correct flaws in thelevees that are believed to have contributed toseveral major breaks during Katrina that flooded 80percent of the city. Corps officials have said aCategory 3 system by the start of the next hurricaneseason actually represents an improvement, becausesubsidence had lowered many New Orleans levees to lessthan that standard before Katrina hit.
In addition, some investigators reviewing the leveesystem in the wake of the storm say portions of thestructures did not meet original design standards.
Vitter said the upcoming work by the corps will fixthose problems.
“It’s not just plugging the holes. It’s doing a wholelot more than that to build true Category 3protection, which we didn’t have before Katrina,” hesaid.
Keith Darcé can be reached at kdarce@timespicayune.comor (504) 826-3491.

18) This is late by nearly a week, but still relevant. The source is Paulette:
According to sources who have seen this list, FEMA andEPA have determined that people should not be allowedto return to their homes in the following zip codesbecause homes there are seriously contaminated byhealth-threatening mold and/or petroleum problems. There is reportedly a much longer list of 200 pages orso that breaks these zip codes down further intoblocks - adding the 4 digit number after each zip codearea.
This list has been shared with our elected officialson the federal state and local level.
We must demand that this information be publiclydisclosed and the information that was used to createthis list must be publicly disclosed and debated.
Here are the zip codes:701127011370116701177011970122701247012570126701277012870129

19) Here's another posting by Jordan, including a lot of important messages concerning the situation on the ground for some and more eyewitness reports:
Friends and Allies,
Below is an important message from Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC - - it speaks about the current situation of the people of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana better than I could.
Also, at the bottom of the message is a list of needs from FFLIC - they are an excellent organization, they still need your support and solidarity, as all of us here fighting for justice in Louisiana do.
For an excellent collection of articles, resources and organizations related to New Orleans (as well as great coverage of the current unrest in France, politics in Lebanon and Syria, organizing at the US-Mexico border, the nonprofit industrial complex, and much more) check out:
Special New Orleans collection at:
The struggle isn't over.
in solidarity,
We know that this update is long overdue and appreciate your patience in our getting it out. First of all, we want to thank everyone again for all your support. We especially want to thank everyone who has sent love, clothes, and other donations to Flora, Marcy and others. We also want to give special thanks to those who donated computers, office supplies, fax and copy machines and furniture to help get our Lake Charles office off the ground. It has not been an easy month. Our staff and members continue to struggle with the aftermath of both Katrina and Rita -- houses are destroyed, jobs are gone, offices are barely functional, loved ones need to be buried. Grieving and rage seem to be part of all of our daily realities as we try to fully comprehend what has happened and vision where we will go now that all has changed. Grief is both for our members and allies whose lives were lost, and for all of us whose homes are gone, whose lives as we knew them will never be the same. We also grieve for a nation who has already lost interest in our struggle, a country that had an opportunity to rise up and declare an undying committment to eradicating the racism and greed which nourished these disasters, but somehow just hasn't. And we are rageful at a city and state who intend to rebuild the city of New Orleans without us and indeed exclusive of us. A city which continues to glorify the police and sheriffs despite proof that they left people to die in the city's jail and plainly killed others who were trying to escape the flood waters. A city that approves of contractors who exploit migrant workers - hiring them to do dangerous and hazardous clean up and then refusing to pay the promised wage or anything at all for weeks at a time. A state that allows for thousands to be evicted everyday with no dispute because those being evicted neither know nor can attend the hearing from their new "evacuation location" - but will arrive back home eventually to find a new lock on the door and their belongings on the corner with the rest of the trash on the street. A city and state that imply over and over that the city will be a better place without the poor and the Black despite the truth that New Orleans was built by poor people of color and destroyed by greed and racism. We are not hopeless, we know our day will come. And we will still be here. We wont grieve and rage forever, but for now, our hearts are still heavy. One thing that gives us hope is getting back on our feet. Our new southwest LA office is located at 188 Williamsburg Street, Lake Charles, LA, 70605. Thanks to everyone who helped us, it is a beautiful office space and has most of what we need to keep on! We still need some desks and chairs and phones, but we have what we need to keep doing the work. Come visit us! For those who are wondering about our central city office, we still have our office space in New Orleans and Gina is working from there half time as the city gets back to its feet. FFLIC was also finally able to meet as a staff and put together a new plan with priorities. We now have two main directives along with our ever-present organizing and juvenile justice reform work: 1) to locate every one of our members from the affected areas and as much as we can assist them with whatever their particular needs may be; and 2) work with other coalitions to document and bring attention to the stories and experiences of the survivors. This information and attention can be used to build demand for an independent investigation into the disasters and also ensure that the reconstruction of New Orleans not continue without the voices, desires and dreams of the people of New Orleans. We have located many folks already and have distributed thousands of dollars to those who needed it. We have gathered clothes and furniture donations for our members. We are hosting a workshop this week on Human Rights Documentation for those of our members interested in interviewing and documenting survivors' experiences. We have travelled from DC to Los Angeles to Chicago to Atlanta and throughout Louisiana speaking and marching and talking and organizing in the hopes that that a unified coalition might evolve to lead us in this struggle and resistance. We have begun to work with a growing coalition of lawyers and organizers focused on ensuring that the reconstruction of New Orleans does *not* include a 7000 bed prison in its center, does *not* include a corrupt and brutal police force and does *not* include 2 dilapidated and dysfunctional juvenile detention centers. We could go on and on but know that folks have much to read and do. Below are reports from our staff for folks who are wanting more detail about what our days and nights are like. Please know that we appreciate each and every one of your all's support and solidarity. We are still accepting donations: under the updates is a list of our and our members' wants and needs. All donations can be sent to our new office address. Thank you and much peace, Gina, Grace, Kori & Xochitl, FFLIC Staff ***************************************************************** Grace, our Lake Charles organizer wrote the following update after a day of calls and searching for our members (*names have been changed): "Mary* is living in a little camping trailer, with a leaking roof, in her driveway. They have received their Fema, Red Cross and food stamps. She was very excited to hear about FFLIC opening it's doors here next week. She told me Rhonda* and her family had to move and have gone to Philadelphia to start a new life. There apartment complex was next door to Vera's* and is torn up. Ms. Dana's* son, Steve* has run away twice in the last two weeks from Youth Challenge, been gone since Tues and she has no word on him. She has received her Fema and Red Cross but has yet to get her food stamps. I told her where to go and she is going to try next week. She is down mentally and struggling with Steve. She needs help financially and I will meet with her on Wed of next week. She is ready to get back to court and is very excited about the new office. She said Damon*, one of the boys she was working with when she was thrown out of court, was beaten badly by a guard that we know from JDC during the evacuation to Baton Rouge, in front of a van load of other kids being evacuated.
Miss Paula* is in very poor shape. Her son lost it 2 weeks ago. He was in a psychiatric hospital when he smashed his eyeball out with his hand and they have transferred him to a mental hospital in another parish. She is spending an enormous amount of money traveling all the way there to see him. She says he is completely out of it and the stress and fear I sensed from her end scared me. She seems close to losing it herself. I am meeting her tomorrow afternoon after she sees him to eat supper and see what support I can offer. I think we should also offer help financially for the cost of fuel and meals. What do you all think?
Carol* is at her breaking point after returning to find her newly remodeled house ready for the bulldozer. Her lodge that she rented out washed away and her mobile home she rented out with the roof gone.
All in Hackberry, one of our hardest hit areas near the coast. She says there is no way she could think of going to work now.
As I told all of you yesterday Vera* is ill and down mentally as well.
I have a doctor's appointment on Monday morning but after that I am going back to work hard. Everyone's need is just so great we must get things moving right away and I sense a place for all to come and support one another is a vital need at this time.
I was also thinking maybe we should hold a support group meeting and let folks just talk in the next two weeks and provide a good old FFLIC fried chicken dinner and plan for just for a couple of hours of sharing. Maybe Sat. the 29th in the early afternoon or the following Sun? This is what makes us FFLIC is coming together in the time of need and loving one another, plus it would give folks something to look forward to instead of just surviving day to day. Plus those that could help get things ready, it would give them a sense of purpose and things to do. How do your calendars look? I can handle all of the arrangements, alongside our members. Just need your time.
This has been an exhausting and heartbreaking day.
These are our people and their hurt is so real. I have finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and am seeing work much clearer than I have in a long time.
These folks have suffered so much. I found it hard to keep from breaking down and crying with them but God gave me the strength to offer them solace and support. This feeling I have now is similar to what I felt like coming home as the destruction I was seeing became worse and worse along the roads bringing us home. But now it is about our people and their hearts and their souls and I feel compelled to leave the whole mess I have here and go help others. This is the true damge of Rita and Katrina and there is no accounting for that in Bush's tallying of damages to the Gulf Coast.There is no account for this pain and hardship. Our fund will not be able to help these folks with this but it can ease their other worries and bring some peace to them that maybe what pulls them through.
Gina, Kori and Xochitl I love you all and am thankful to all of you for the support and love I receive from each of you. More thankful than any of you may ever know. We must take what we have between us and share it within our circle quickly, as I know where some of these folks are and I have been there. I have no doubt in my heart that without the folks of the JJPL and FFLIC I would have never had been able to get through those hours of darkness in my life that I believe most of the folks I have mentioned in this email are facing tonight. This is the unwritten part of our mission, the giving of ourselves in the hard times, that will draw folks in and make us stronger.
It is this need and giving that has created the LC FFLIC group that has remained united for so long. My plea is that you will come quickly and as wholeheartedly as possible. "
Co-Director, Gina wrote the following when she returned home for the first time: "Ok, I'm writing this while I'm drinking the biggest daiquiri I could find on the westbank. It is with great sorrow and devestation Im writing this email. I just came from my house and well, I thought I would be prepared for what I would find. There is nothing that prepared me for what I would see there. I knew I had 5-6ft of water but the level of crossness was completely overwhelming. As I drove into the deserted city, I was shocked at the level of devestation found there. Trees downed everywhere, electical pole and lines spewn through the streets and absolutely no one in the streets other than military personnel. Cars and boats thown everywhere. As I made it to my home, I expected to see my clothes and shoes all ruined, but as I approached my driveway I found my iron fence laying on the ground (mind you I could never open it cause I didnt have a key).
The water line was above my sister and my moms cars and my bedroom door had rotted so it had given way and was ajar. I walked into what was my newly painted room, by yours truly, to find the paint peeling, clothes and shoes everywhere and my mattress still dripping wet. I dont need to discuss the stench. In my den, my sofa, dining table and refrigerator were thrown all over the floor, my wine and the cabinet over sink completely thrown on the floor. all the books that I have collected over the years, ruined. Ok, you guys know Im generally a "whatever" kind of person and I had already seperated myself from the material things but when I realized just how many of my photo albums I left behind I just lost it. I cant believe all of the memories of my children and my older dearly departed family just gone. When you pick up the albums they just crumble in your hands. I thought they were up high enough but obviously I was wrong. My foyer walls are now decorated with mold and mildew. I cant even imagine this house to be livable again. I didnt want to bring Jessica with me, but its a good thing she came as she at least had the foresight to go and get the clothes out the dirty clothes hamper as all of my things and the boys things are lost. I guess I am homeless and clotheless. This is unbelieveable. I'm not sure how I will recover from this emotionally. It's not even about the material things really, but knowing that each and every one of those items represented a moment in time that I will never get back, time shopping with a friend that I havent seen in years perhaps. Lord, I dont know how people will deal with this. I keep thinking about Ms. Collins* and other people whose entire house was under water. How will we ever rebuild this city..that is everywhere outside of the french quarter, garden district and downtown!!! To think as I look down my block and for miles on end that homes look this exact same way and hundreds of people will return to find the same thing. Those of you that pray and even those of you that dont please do so this time for me and my children and families all across the gulf coast."******************************************************************************For those who would like to continue to support FFLIC in our work, please send all donations to 188 Williamsburg Street, Lake Charles, LA, 70607. We cant tell you how much we appreciate you! Needs:Clothes for Ms. Lecia, a member of the Lake Charles Chapter of FFLIC whose family lost everything:Woman size 26/28 and 11/12 shoe; man size 36 pants 17neck shirt or Large; 11 shoe; woman size 24 and 11/shoe; man size 48 pant and 3x or 19 1/2 neck shirt and 12 shoePlease send to: Hotel Ramanda Inn, 2700 Hwy 82E, Greenville, MS 38701 and send us an email to let us know
For other members: calling/phone cardsgift cards from places that sell furniture, clothes or gasFor our office: folding chairs for meetingsoffice chairspicture frames & other office decorationsa microwavea coffee pota vacuum cleanera tv/vcr combo for video showingstape recorders for use in documentationchildren's books, toys and play area items
For the FFLIC Hurricane Relief Fund:cash and check donations that will be used to help our members rebuild their homes and their lives EMAIL CONTACT FOR FFLIC: Xochitl Bervera - the Friends_of_fflic mailing listTo Subscribe Send email to: Or visit:

20) Some Levitation:
'Twas the Night Before Katrina (cajun style)
'Twas de night before Katrina, when all tru da state Not a gas pump was pumpin', Not a store open late All da plywood was hung, on de windows wit care, Knowing dat a hurricane, Soon would be dere.
Da chilren were ready wit deir flashlight in hand While rain bands from da hurricane covered over our lan And Mom wit her Mag-lite, and me wit my cap Has jus filled da battub for flushing our crap..
When out on de lawn, there arose such a clatter I sprang from da closet to see what was de matter The trees on da terrace, and de neighbor's roof torn, We feared we'd be dyin' in dis terrible storm.
Wit a little wind gus, so lively and quick, I membered quite clearly our walls was not brick More rapid than Eagles, her courses they changed! And she whistled and wafted and surged all the same.
Off shingles! Off sidings! Off rooftops! Off power! Down trees! Down fences! Down trailers! Down towers! On da street of New Orleans, she continued to maul, Screaming Blow away! Blow away! Blow away all!
As da wind ripped and tossed da debris tru de sky, I peeked out the shutters at the cars floatin' by. So go to the attic my family did do, With a portable radio and some batteries too.
And den in a twinkling, I heard on da set, The end was not coming for a few hours yet! As I calmed down da kids and was turning around Tru de window it came with a huge crashing sound
A tree branch it was all covered in soot De wind blew it smack-dab on top of my foot! A bundle of twigs now lay in a stack And my Livin' Room looked like it was under attack.
De wind how it howled, de storm very scary, Myself and my family were all too unwary. Da dangers of hurricanes are serious ya know, Dey are taken for granted as Betsy did show.
Wit da winds dying down and da danger beneath, I noticed my tool shed was missing its sheath So I grabbed my last tarp, and nailed it on down, Den I got in my car and drove into town.
Da traffic was awful and stores had no ice, My 5-gallon cooler would have to suffice Generators was scarce, not one left in town, Dere was trees on the roads and power lines down.
FEMA was ready wit people to work, Electrical companies came in from New York. I sprang to da car, and gave my family a whistle, Den away we all went like a Tomahawk missile!
You could hear us exclaim as we drove out of sight, "The heck wit dis place, Texas seem just right!"
(Author unknown)

21) Here is another obituary attributed to Katrina, ultimately:
Msgr. John Lyle Newfield (1921-2005)
Msgr. John Lyle Newfield, the son of Paul C. Newfield Sr and Marie Louise Terrell, was born January 5, 1921 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and baptized at Sacred Heart Church (on St. Bernard Avenue) in New Orleans. During his formative years John Lyle served as an altar boy at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, on St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans.
On December 22, 1945, Fr. John Lyle Newfield was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by New Orleans Archbishop, Joseph Francis Rummel, at which time the young priest inherited the chalice and paten that had belonged to his former pastor at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, the late Msgr. Joseph A. Levesque (1863-1940).
Msgr. John Lyle Newfield died Friday, November 11, 2005 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He will be interred at __________ Cemetery, ___________, Louisiana. Details will be announced as they become available.
Parishes and Assignments:
~ 1. St. Agnes Parish, Metairie, Louisiana (1946-1950), Assistant Pastor
~ 2. Sacred Heart Parish, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (1950-1955)
~ 3 St. Henry, New Orleans (1955-1957)
~ 4 St. Anthony of Padua, Barataria (1957-1961, Pastor, with responsibilities for two mission churches: ** Sacred Heart, Lafitte, Louisiana ** St. Pius X, Crown Point, Louisiana
~ 5. St. Genevieve of Paris, Thibodaux, Louisiana (1961-1966), Founding Pastor
~ 6. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Westwego, Louisiana (1966-1971), Pastor
~ 7. St. Francis de Sales, Houma, Louisiana (1971-1987), Pastor
He was named Monsignor in 1977, shortly before the founding of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. With the creation of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in 1977, his new title became Rector of the Cathedral, and he continued to serve in that capacity until his retirement from active parochial duties in 1987.
~ 8 Chaplain at Metairie Manor Retirement Home, Metairie, Louisiana (1987-1989)
[Illness: During a brief period of illness, he resided with his brother and sister in Arabi, Louisiana.]
~ 9. Holy Savior, Lockport, Louisiana (1990-1991), in residence, [Fr. Brendan Foley, Pastor]
He retired to a private residence in Raceland, Louisiana, from whence he served as chaplain to the Dominican Missionary Sisters. In 1991 he moved to Chateau Notre Dame in New Orleans.
Msgr. Newfield served as a Canon Lawyer in the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, handling marriage cases. Even after his transfer to Houma, he continued to serve in that capacity. After the creation of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in 1977, he was appointed Chief Judge of that diocese’s Tribunal.
He was a member of the Knights of Columbus (4th Degree); a member of the Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; and a member of the Canon Law Society of America.
Msgr. John Lyle Newfield attended Our Lady Star of the Sea Elementary School in New Orleans; Holy Cross High School (1933-1935); St. Joseph Seminary at St. Benedict Abbey (1935-1940); and finally Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana (1940-1945), where he earned degrees in Philosophy and Theology. On December 1945, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
He celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest in December 1995, with a festive reception at St. Francis de Sales in Houma.
He was the brother of the late Paul C. Newfield, Jr. of Mandeville, Louisiana; of Frank H. Newfield and Virginia Newfield (both presently residing in Thibodaux, Louisiana, but formerly of Arabi, Louisiana; and of Mrs. Guy M. (Marie Louise) Francis of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is also survived by a host of cousins, nieces and nephews. Funeral arrangements by Chauvin Funeral Home, Houma, Louisiana.
+ Requiescat in pace domini. +
[Photos attached.]

22) A Correction of the last post, put where any newspaper woulda put it...:
"Our state budget is $18 Billion in a normal year. We also had a 350 million dollar surplus due to oil royalties. It was balanced before the storm and the State also has a 450 million dollar "rainy day" fund. Say what you want about LA politicians, but we WERE one of only six states not in the red. 5 of them energy producing states."

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