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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:49 AM
Original message
Driving to New Orleans
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 01:48 AM by bvar22
Hi All, :hi:
I'm driving to New Orleans to see what can be salvaged and to help out in any way possible.
For those who don't know, my family home is in New Orleans. It is located on the other side of the now World Famous 17th St Levee that failed 24 hours AFTER Katrina had done her worst. The failure of the 17th St Levee was due to improper and delayed upgrading because of LACK OF FUNDING from the Feds! While residences on the OTHER side of (the non-failed side) the 17th St levee suffered some flood and wind damage, it is NOTHING like what happened in New Orleans. The reports I have heard is that most is salvageable, and some people are already living in the area. I have no direct reports on my house.

No one from my immediate family was in the area at the time of the storm, and communications from New Orleans are very thin. I believe that some hard phone lines are serviceable, but most communications are on the heavily overburdened cell networks, so hard data is difficult to obtain.

I am staying at a motel in Memphis tonight (Thurs), and will be driving on to New Orleans in the morning. I had planned to driving to Jackson tonight, but was warned against that by people in Memphis who informed me that there are NO motels available in Jackson. I was lucky to get one in Memphis. Some evacuees are returning to New Orleans from Memphis and rooms are opening up.

I am posting here because I consider members of the Minnesota DU my political family, personal friends and support group. I wanted to let you know where I am. The area (a part of Metairie) has been reopened by The Powers that Be.
I loaded up my 4X4 Blazer with power tools, chain saws, hand tools, bleach, Lysol, drinking water, buckets, mops, cameras, notebook computer, canned goods, and my bicycle and headed South. It is my understanding that electricity and water are available.

I will add pictures and commentary to this thread when possible.

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southlandshari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
1. Good luck!
Please do post updates. Thinking of you and your family in the coming days!

:hug:
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Maddy McCall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:54 AM
Response to Original message
2. Are you coming down I-55?
You'll be passing within a mile of me! :hi:
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:16 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Yes, I-55
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 01:46 AM by bvar22
Where should I wave?

Bob


and are gasoline and bottled water readily available where you live?

I've always loved the frog!
:+
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Maddy McCall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #4
13. Yes, plenty of gas and water.
If I had caught you earlier, I could have loaded you up with bottled water. We have plenty at the fire house.

I am about an hour and a half +/- north of New Orleans, on I-55. IF YOU NEED WATER, CONTACT ME!

I'd be willing to meet you in Hammond with a pick-up truck load. I'm about 30 minutes north of Hammond--so it's about half-way between us. I can also get you some MREs, if you need them.

PM me and let me know.

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I_Make_Mistakes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:55 AM
Response to Original message
3. Best wishes for you and those around you
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MissMarple Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:37 AM
Response to Original message
5. Safe journey, sweetheart.
:hug:
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KitchenWitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 01:40 AM
Response to Original message
6. Take care
Drive safely and stay safe!
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katinmn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:20 AM
Response to Original message
7. Look forward to getting your on-the-scene reports!
Good job, friend. :hug:
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indigo32 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:27 AM
Response to Original message
8. Good Luck
I'll be thinking of you
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hermetic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:17 AM
Response to Original message
9. I am with you in spirit.
Best of luck my friend.
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Spike from MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
10. Drive safely and try to keep us posted.
I hope you find things largely intact but it sounds like you're prepared for just about anything. I wish you the best of luck and I'm sure you'll fill us all in when you get back.
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dpbrown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
11. I hope you find the best you can hope for there
Best of luck!
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dflprincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:32 PM
Response to Original message
12. Good luck Bvar!
Drive safe, keep us posted. Let us know when you get back - I've been thinking it's about time for another gathering.
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Love Bug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
14. Good luck and have a safe trip!
We all look forward to your reports and photos. I recall you talking about NO and your future houseboat at our picnic!

Hope all is well with your family and say "Hi!" to all our fellow DUers down there!
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The Velveteen Ocelot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 05:15 PM
Response to Original message
15. Good luck -- I think it's so great
that you're going there to help; hope your family & home are OK. We look forward to your reports.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
16. Good luck, Bob!
Have a safe journey and report in when you can! :hi:
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SupormomFreeAtLast Donating Member (238 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:16 PM
Response to Original message
17. Good luck
Sending good vibes your way
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 01:05 PM
Response to Original message
18. Thanks for all the support!
I made it to New Orleans safely. The area where my house is has water, electricty, and sewage. The AC is on, so I have everything I need for the initial recovery work. This area was flooded, and water was in the house to a depth of 6" in places. There was little wind damage. Most people in this area had 2-3' of water in their houses. The place looks pretty bad....trees are down, many people lost their roofs, and alot of trees fell on houses causing roof damage.
This area was on the dry side of the 17th street canal. ALL the water damage was caused by accumulating rain water (it was cleaner than the toxic mess closer to New Orleans, but still caused great damage. Most people are working to salvage their homes. They lost most of the contents, flooring, furniture and sheetrock. They are ripping out the bottom floor walls, carpets and furniture and piling them at the curb.
I was much more fortunate. My house is the oldest in this area, and built to a stronger code. It sits higher than most. I will lose the carpets and some drywall in parts of the house, but nothing compared to my neighbors. I actually have some embarrassment (survivors guilt) at the minor damage I sustained. For security reasons, I won't post a picture of my house.
The tenants had split leaving food in the refrig and garbage in the kitchen. This caused a nauseating mess, but nothing that can't be cleaned up.


What doesn't come across in the pictures is the STINK. We are lucky here because we are only 1/4 mile from the lake, and most of the wind is off the lake blowing the stink away.


Yesterday was the first day that uptown was opened for returning residents. I have family in this part of town, and I accompanied them in to their house. They also sustained very slight damage and no flood water inside the house.

The rest of the area in Uptown was not so lucky. The damage is severe, and the stink is indescribable. Part landfill, part vomit, part rancid cheese, part death. I have a strong stomach, and it turned mine. The stink get on your clothes, in your hair, and stays in your nose.
I can't describe the devastation. I tried to take pictures, but it is everywhere, and every picture only catches a small portion. It is much more overwhelming in person. There is no electricity, water, or sewage in this area. I was able to drive outside the official limits.
Some people are trying to save their houses, but it is a lost cause.
There are parts of Uptown that won't be inhabitable for years.

People are open, and want to talk. As I was driving around, I stopped and talked to people who were getting their first look at their losses. Some had bravely started to work cleaning up. It was obvious to me that this effort would be fruitless, but I didn't have the heart to say so. I felt ghoulish, but I asked if I could take pictures. Most agreed. The following are pictures from the Uptown area.


A city block destroyed by fire and flood.
This is an area that I know well, but I kept getting lost.
All the landmarks have changed.



You can see the watermark on this house.
Claiborn & Napoleon


There are boats scattered all over New Orleans. They broke down or ran out of gas during the rescue efforts..



The Dome and skyline from Claiborn





Cryptic messages left in the debris.
The VooDoo fridge is in Anne Rice's neighborhood.
It is not the only one. I saw several with this message.


I want to restate something everyone already knows, but the Reich Wing is trying to obscure these FACTS!
***New Orleans survived Katrina with little damage. 90% of the damage was caused by the failure of the 17th St Canal "Flood Wall" due to poor maintenence and lack of upgrading. This was NOT a traditional earth covered levee. ALL the earth covered levees held. The only breaches were in the "steel flood walls" which were scheduled for upgrading. I am trying to determine if the "upgrading" was to cover them with Earth. If the 17th St Levee has been covered with earth and rip-rap, it would NOT have failed.

The "rainwater damage in Metairie was caused by a decision (insane) to NOT run the pumps. The rainfall accumulation in Metairie was well within the capabilities of these pumps. Had the pumps been running, there would have been NO flood damage to Metairie.
I grew up in this area and rode out many hurricanes including Betsy.
SOP for storms is to run the pumps 24 hrs in advance of the storm to draw down the canals, and run them continuously during the storm. This procedure WAS CHANGED for THIS storm.


I will be posting more pictures and commentary. I-Net connections are hard to find. I am using a WiFi connection at a coffee shop that is intermittent. I will post more when able. Please forgive any spelling or composition errors!

Thanks for all the support!
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dflprincess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 07:02 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Thanks for the update
Let us know if you need anything.
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-02-05 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. I will.
I'l update tomorrow I-Net willing.
Thanks!
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katinmn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 06:33 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. It must be a very sad homecoming
I'm glad your house survived with minimal damage. Don't feel guilty about it. It could have easily gone the other way. But I understand what you're saying.

Thanks for sharing the photos and observations. It is mind-numbing.

If you feel so inclined, write something about the military and Blackwater presence. It sounds from some reports that they have overrun the place, but perhaps that's over now, or overblown.

Thanks, bvar. Look forward to future updates.





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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. The National Guard are visible everywhere.
There are checkpoints on most of the "through streets" into New Orleans, but they are not stopping anyone. They are sitting in the shade and waving. I waved back.
Some areas of New Orleans are not open yet, but I was able to simply drive by the checkpoint with a friendly wave.

If Blackwater is here, they are invisible. I want to go into some of the areas that were looted. I drove through yesterday and talked to some locals. Most were friendly and agreed to have their picture taken. I wanted to ask about the "looting" , drug gangs, and police shootings, but my gut told me that was not something to talk about casually. I may have more time to spend with people over the next couple of days.






In the background, you can see the low income housing off of Louisiana Ave.
This place was bad when I lived here 10 years ago.
I believe it has been condemned and fenced off before Katrina.



This if George and wife Lyla? (Lylac?). They have been married 35 years, and own the house which is located on a side street about 100 yards from the "project" housing you can see in the background of the above pic. This is the first time they have seen their house since Katrina. I found it interesting that Lyla immediately went to work on the front porch (she is pouring bleach liberally over everything), while husband George is cruising the sidewalks chatting with strangers. They were both very open. Lyla wanted to keep working and made short work of our conversation. George wanted to talk. I liked them both and their brief story broke my heart. They don't know if they are covered by insurance, but think so.



These are the people across the street from George and Lyla.
The vibe I got was that they had little patience for a foolish white boy taking pictures of their ruined houses.
I understand, but I would love to hear their story.





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katinmn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. I'd like to hear their stories, too, but who can blame them for
being distrustful?

America has not done right by many poor African Americans.

Since you're a very sincere and honest man perhaps they will come to trust you.

I'm PMing you with a local publication that will, I'm sure, want to publish your photo essay!
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:34 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Thanks, K.
I will contact them.
I have so many pictures.
I'm posting from my car parked outside a computer shop that has an open WiFi connection. It is difficult to download the pics to my laptop, edit the shots, choose a few, upload them to a hosting site, compose the text and upload to DU before my battery runs out (no cig adapter).
I wish I could show you all the pictures.
I am planning another photo expedition for tomorrow.
I'm also posting these to GD as individual daily posts:
"Return to New Orleans".

Bob
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katinmn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 03:19 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. I look forward to reading all the installments!
Would you be interested in showing a larger number of photos when you get back?
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bvar22 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 11:15 PM
Response to Original message
26. Update:
On the CBS News Evening News tonight, a fresh faced reporter breathlessly stated that, "New Orleans is slowly returning to normal."

She couldn't be more wrong! Conditions are improving slightly in some areas, but we aren't even in the same galaxy as "normal". I don't believe that New Orleans will ever be "normal" again (not that it ever was). There are more commercial businesses opening in the Metairie area, some services are now available, and traffic is heavy again, but NORMAL? I think not!

There were two encouraging events today.
1) Mail was delivered to my house!
2) Some schools in the area reopened!

It was good to see the kids playing, and it I guess it does does give the superficial illusion of "normal". But to me, it is like the British having tea during a Nazi bombing raid in London....a pretend normal.
You can comprehend how far from "normal" New Orleans is by witnessing my joy at "The Mail Came Today!!!"


Levees vs. Floodwalls
New Orleans was NOT destroyed by a "breech in the 17th St Canal Levee" as is being reported in the Media.
New Orleans was destroyed by the catastrophic failure of a "Floodwall".

There is a HUGE difference between a "Levee" and a "Floodwall"!


This is a traditional New Orleans Levee.
It is a mound of compacted earth covering a concrete "rip rap" and steel core. The side facing Lake Pontchatrain is faced with concrete "rip rap" (large blocks of broken concrete).
The cross section is substantial, and you can see where the levee elevation was raised a few years ago. The new addition is the narrower section at the top. This section consists of a corrugated steel wall core covered by earth.
There were NO FAILURES of this type of Levee during or after Katrina.
Because of its robust construction, if a failure were to occur, the break would start small, and gradually enlarge over time. It is even possible that the leak would limit itself depending on the velocity of flow and the disposition of the concrete blocks. It might even "heal itself" if blocks of concrete and debris washed in.


This is a view from the top. Notice the water level on one side, and the height of the houses on the other. New Orleans is INDEED below sea level. Also notice how BROAD the levee is. As the water level rises, the stress is distributed by the angle of the levee face, much like an earthen dam is constructed.



This is a "Floodwall".
This happens to be the floodwall on the 17th St Canal.
This is the side that "didn't fail". This is the side my house is on.



This "wall" is about 7' high, and is built on top of an earlier "Earth Levee". I was able to "chin up" and get this shot from the top. My guess is that it is about 6" wide, undoubtedly reinforced concrete.
"Floodwalls" are a recent development in the Levee Protection System of New Orleans.
I am not an engineer, but this looks "all wrong" to me. As the water rises, the stress is applied to a longer "torque arm" (lever) transferring ALL the stress to the base of the wall. If a "failure" occurs, it will be catastrophic. Whole sections will immediately collapse causing a "tidal wave". This IS what happened to New Orleans many hours AFTER Katrina had done her worst and left the area!



This is the section of the 17th St Canal Floodwall (NOT Levee)
that FAILED CATASTROPHICALLY and drowned New Orleans.

As stated above, I am not an engineer. I would appreciate an evaluation by an engineer. Please post your opinion and analysis.

I will do some research tomorrow to determine when "Floodwalls" became acceptable for Hurricane protection in New Orleans.
At the present time, I have been unable to determine the nature of the flooding in New Orleans East. The Media incorrectly uses the term Levee to describe the Floodwall on the 17th St Canal, so I don't trust their account. I will photograph that location when it becomes possible to enter that area.

Tomorrow I will post pictures of the drainage canals and pumping stations.

Bob
New Orleans

Chapter1

Chapter2

Chapter3
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