Investigating the Flood Protection Systems during Hurricane Katrina

Published: 2019-09-26 07:00:00
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The Hurricane Katrina floods passed the southeast of New Orleans in the year 2005 on August 29th as the region experienced grade one winds with frequent gusts and tidal surge. The Hurricane force winds transverse throughout the city despite the most destructive portion of Katrina missing the city by a whisker and hitting the nearby regions such as the St.Bernard and the Plaquemines parishes. The protection systems underperformed during the disaster. This research will provide a detailed explanation of the systemic factors leading to the New Orleans flood disaster of August 2005 and investigate the overall Performance of the New Orleans Flood Protection Systems in Hurricane Katrina.

"The floods resulted in a catastrophic failure of an engineered historic system, and the estimated losses ran into billions of money and high numbers of perished lives," (Mara Miller, pg.4). About 1700 people perished in the event, and 306 had been reported dead in Mississippi alone while another 300 people had been reported as missing persons. It was believed that most of them were carried into the Gulf of Mexico by the storm's flood waters. The rescue team searched the destroyed premises to recover any bodies that might have been trapped in the structures and managed to retrieve more bodies from the ravels. Thousands of people were displaced as their homes were carried away by the heavy floods and left at the mercy of rescue teams. The storm formed at the Bahamas on August 23, 2005, and the meteorologists were able to warn people six days prior to the occurrence of the massive tragedy. The government took an initiative to evacuate as many people as it could especially from the New Orleans which was at a higher risk.

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The New Orleans Flood Protection Systems performance was deficient in various ways, and these failures resulted in adverse impacts. The flood walls that were designed to direct the waters to a less destructive region were overwhelmed by the massive floods and washed away hence leaving the residential places prone to displacements. This was a major failure as people built their hopes on the walls thus became reluctant to move to higher places thinking that the walls would be effective in preventing damage to their homes. Also, the walls were built to withstand category three winds but were surpassed by the winds thus the NOFPS underestimated the impact of the disaster. After the occurrence of the tragedy, the U.S Army Engineers began and extensive campaign to reinstall the walls rather than focusing their attention to evacuating and relocating the survivors to secure places before a re-occurrence of the same. This act posed a significant risk to the survivors of the tragic event.

The rescue teams were influenced by political moves regarding the tragedy as the officials directed their focus on accomplishing political objectives on the matter. This resulted in inadequate funding to curb the effects of the aftermath hence leaving the survivors stranded. The rescue teams went ahead to demolish the spared residential homes, and the move was received as a mockery by thousands of people who were pissed off by that move. The recovery plan was quite slow as it took the concerned bodies about seven years after the event to reach an agreement on a master recovery plan, (Michael Dyson, pg.13). Corruption played a major role in the flood losses as the protection levees were not constructed to the required heights and the parts that met the required heights were poorly constructed. The ridges made New Orleans unsafe for natural disasters as heavy storms could quickly weaken them.

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The flood protection systems were organized for failure during the hurricane Katrina floods in various ways. For instance; after getting an urgent notice about the impending floods, five days were enough to help secure all the people from the expected aftermath. There should have been a vigorous campaign on people to relocate to the safer regions and also this could have helped to salvage thousands of properties, (John Travis, pg.1658). Therefore, the protection systems failed miserably despite been given an ample time to manage the event. Also; due to faulty organizational structure, the supposed disaster management bodies took extended periods to reach a collective agreement and spent most times in wrangles as the effects of the floods continued to dilapidate the region. Things could have been better if the systems smoothly worked together for the sole purpose of saving both lives and properties and putting their differences aside.

Politics also played a major role in destabilizing the rescue process as the event was politicized and much attention was shifted to political affiliates hence slowing effective rescue operations. This adversely affected the relation between the rescue teams as each body functioned to fulfill a political interest rather than concentrating on securing the survivors of the event and retrieving dead bodies. In such occasions, all the concerned systems should come in solidarity to help secure lives and properties from widespread destructions rather than taking the event as a platform to showcase political muscles at the expense of the survivors. To conclude, the NOFPS poorly performed during the 2005 Hurricane Katrina floods in numerous ways. Therefore, New Orleans is still not safe as the same protective systems that resulted in massive losses have not been streamlined hence leaving the region prone to another tragedy.

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References

Books

Miller, M. (2006). Hurricane Katrina strikes on the Gulf Coast: Disaster & Survival. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow.

Dyson, M. E. (2007). Come hell or floods: Hurricane Katrina (the color of disaster). New York: Basic Civitas.

Journals

Travis, J. (2005). HURRICANE KATRINA: Scientists' Fears Come True as Hurricane Floods New Orleans. Science, 309(5741), 1656-1659. doi:10.1126/science.309.5741.1656

sheldon

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