September 01, 2005

There's Whining, And Then There's Common Sense

First, a mind-numbingly dumb editorial in the Star-Tribune.

Versus, a blog commenter who knows her shit:

What's going on in Louisiana - pretty much a logistical nightmare actually.

The storm and subsequent flooding have reduced access to the city down to one or two major roads. Most of the boats are toast and navigable waterways are no longer navigable because they're clogged with debris (cars, shipping containers, damaged vessels, chunks of buildings...) The airports are also submerged. So basically there are very few options for getting stuff into or getting stuff out of the city.

The breaches in the levees are immense and they haven't figured out yet how to drop enough stuff in there to plug them. The Corps (who have a lot of experience in stopping up vast volumes of water - particularly along the Mississippi) has been dropping their biggest sand bags into the breaches for a couple of days - not working. They'd love to drop a few barges in to plug up the holes but they can't get them there due to the aforementioned crap clogging up the waterways.

Talk about breaking stuff just to see how it works...

Other infrastructure that's pretty much toast in N.O.:
- Not just phone lines but call routing facilities are wet and broken.
- Not just power transmission lines, but power transformer and switching stations are wet and broken.
- Cell phone towers and routing facilities are also wet and broken.
- Fresh water supplies are fouled.
- Sewer systems and treatment facilities are likewise fouled.
- And as we all know, the pumps that are supposed to keep the city from flooding in the first place are also toast. (interesting to note that when running full bore, within 30 seconds the city's pumps can drive out a volume of water equivalent to a quarter-block seven-story building)
Oh, right, and the transportation infrastructure is basically shot since the causeways have broken up, bridges too, and roads have been submerged, washed out, etc. Airports are underwater. Port and dock facilities also broken.

That's a lot of broken infrastructure.

Initial estimates figure it will take the pumps at least 30 days to drain the flood from the city - that's assuming all the pumps are operational and there's electricity to drive them. But first the levees have to be repaired. That will take a lot of material which ordinarily would be transported to the scene utilizing some combination of roads, docks or airports. And it will take a lot of manpower - which ordinarily require food, water, shelter and basic sanitary facilities. Did I mention that this was a logistical nightmare?

Then after the city is finally dried out, they get to start rebuilding the infrastructure. It's going to take years.

If you're at all interested in how logistical nightmares of this sort get straightened out, I recommend: They've had really good coverage of recent history's greatest logistical nightmares including the construction of the first highway across Afghanistan after we wrecked that country, the stabilization and deconstruction of the World Trade Towers after they got wrecked by a couple pissed off Islamic student pilots, and the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure after we bombed the crap out of it.
Granted ENR is a little short on the hand-wringing human drama stories, but that's what the rest of the media is there for.

Posted by: buildergrrl at 01.09.05 19:42


Ryan says: This is the kind of logic going on over at the Star-Tribune:

Ryan says: "How, after 9/11, do you explain the lack of proper equipment in New Orleans to deal with a breaching of the levees?"

Caroline says: that doesn't even make sense

Ryan says: I know, it's a total non sequiter.

Ryan says: It's kind of like saying: "How, after brushing your teeth, do you explain why your feet still smell."

Caroline says: pretty much

Posted by Ryan at September 1, 2005 10:33 PM | TrackBack

Man, nice find.

Posted by: Tony B at September 2, 2005 07:02 PM
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