Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Don't Think Anybody Anticipated a Break in the Levees

"Later, Daddy and I are goin' fishin' on Canal St."

It's from yesterday, but I couldn't post it because of Blogger problems.

Scientists knew some twenty years ago the floodwalls around New Orleans could collapse:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' built a levee and floodwall system to test a design similar to the 17th Street Canal in 1985, which "indicated that failure was imminent," according to a statement from Raymond B. Seed and Robert G. Bea, in charge of the National Science Foundation's Independent Levee Investigation Team.

"Not only did they have that in their repertoire of information, they failed to use it, as best we can tell," Seed said in a telephone interview from the University of California, Berkeley.

Corps spokesman Wayne Stroupe said his agency knew about the 1985 test, and that he would forward the scientists' statement to a Corps official for a response...

Beyond the 1985 test, the Corps should also have known about the soft clay behind the levee, the independent scientists said, since the complex and challenging geology of the region had been noted in past studies.

"The Corps should not claim that the weak foundation soil strata at the 17th Street canal breach site were unexpected," the scientists' statement said.

Seed also said two other problems could have caused the floodwall to fail, which his team will study and then discuss in May.

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