Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Who’ll stop the rain?

Written By: Bob - Aug• 28•12

Pactolus, NC 09/24/1999 — Pactolus, just North of Greenville is accessible only by boat after Hurricane Floyd caused the flood-swollen Tar River to overflow its banks. Photo by Dave Gatley/FEMA

Hurricane Isaac is grinding against Louisiana (80MPH winds, crawling in at 8 MPH), and I’m worried that the failure to evacuate New Orleans is going to lead to a lot of avoidable deaths from flooding as the nearly stalled storm creeps through the area, dumping in excess of 20 inches of rain. It has the potential to be another Floyd.

I’ve often described New Orleans as “a hole in a swamp surrounded on three sides by water,” and that is a fairly accurate if glib description. Bordered by the Mississippi River, Lake Ponchartrain, and the Gulf of Mexico, much of the city of New Orleans is a bowl, kept from flooding by a system of levees and massive pumps.

As long as the levees hold and the pumps work, the city should be able to ride out the storm. Many of the 1,800+ deaths from Hurricane Katrina were a result of the storm surge overwhelming a substandard levee system. A breach of the levees isn’t my primary concern with Issac. Issac is very slow moving, and is dumping massive amounts of rain in a compressed amount of time. No levee is going to keep out the rain falling from the sky, and if debris in the city streets flows into the pumps and jams them, or if the pumps fail for any other reason, we’re looking at the danger of significant flooding yet again.

Isaac is “merely” a Category 1 storm. That doesn’t mean it is something that should be taken lightly.

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  1. david7134 says:

    When I was in medical school in NO, we were not allowed to leave. I sat out several hurricanes. I was not infrequent to walk to the school with water up to your knees and the umbrella pointed straight ahead. What I am concerned with is that they are going to keep calling wolf on these smaller storms, then another big one will come and no one will pay attention.

  2. Jeff Hoser says:

    New Orleans’ French founders built upon the only secure land available – now called “The French Quarter”. Later comers built upon flood plain. Decades of civil works levees added to the waterfront, but didn’t change the topography. Present-day NO is a classic example of how over a hundred years’ of taxpayers’ treasure can be squandered to no avail by a persistent consortorium of federal/state/local bureaucratic and political opportunists . Far better to preserve the French Quarter and abandon the rest. Or at the very least withdraw any/all federal funding. >MW

  3. captainfish says:

    Not really impressed by this large storm. Every prediction by media and weathercasters has proven false. This storm is barely even a Cat 1, and the rains aren’t that heavy either.

    Granted, you are right. Can’t take storms lightly. However, it isn’t a Cat 5 like predicted. It isn’t a Katrina part deiu. It isn’t battering Florida. It didn’t grow in the heat-laden waters of the Gulf.

    So, in their attempts to ramp up the anticipatory craze around our first hurricane since Katrina, they have overhyped it in the media.

  4. david7134 says:

    One of the things that burns me is that we in Louisiana get to pay more on our insurance as a consequence of these idiots building in a flood zone.