Friday, August 28, 2015
Visiting the Lower Ninth Ward and the Mississippi Gulf Coast a year after Hurricane Katrina, we were struck by the vast number of abandoned porta-potties. It looks like they were set up quickly for the rescue workers and just abandoned. Hmmm, I suspect the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) was paying for the service and the contractors figured it was easier to bill for loss of equipment rather then retrieve the units.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
(Note: click any image to enlarge it.)
I did not have a chance to see New Orleans immediately after the storm but spent some time exploring in 2006, when initial cleanup had begun but little restoration was underway. These photographs will show some of the destruction. We will start with a visit to the Lower Ninth Ward, but first let's discuss the geography of New Orleans and the Mississippi delta.
Decades later, scientists learned that land subsidence had been grossly underestimated. Much of the former swamp terrain has continued to slowly sink as the soil dewaters. This is a natural process in all river deltas. As a result, many of the neighborhoods developed after 1900 have settled below sea level. A coworker told me that a common practice every spring was for homeowners to have sand spread over the their house lots to try to combat the settlement. I will leave it to you readers to decide if building suburbia below sea level in an area that needs pumps and depends on the integrity of the levees and on the electric supply is a wise idea.
This is just a sampling of the destruction wrought by Katrina. We will explore more parts of the city in later articles.
Much has been written about Katrina and its consequences. The article in Wikipedia provides a good summary. Another Wikipedia article describes the Lower Ninth Ward. The article on Hurricane Betsy is interesting reading. A summary on restoration efforts in the Mississippi River Delta is in this New York Times article. John McPhee's classic article "Atchafalaya" in The New Yorker is an excellent and readable introduction to why we control the flow of water and sediment down the Mississippi and the interplay with the Atchafalaya waterway.
Photographs were taken with a Sony DSC-R1 digital camera. This was a 10 mpixel camera with a superb lens.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
(Note: click any photograph to enlarge it.)
The classrooms are a mess. Many of the windows no longer have plywood covers, so I was able to place my camera on the window ledges and use time exposures. For a few years, a fellow rented the building and raised worms (yes, a worm farm). But I can't tell in what part of the building this animal husbandry occurred.
Not much is happening out back on a sultry summer day.
There may be a use for the Culkin school yet. On July 7, 2015, the Vicksburg Post reported:
The sheriff’s department uses a building on the school’s campus for self-contained breathing apparatus training and tactical training like searching through smoke filled rooms, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. The department also practices intruder simulations besides using the site for other law enforcement training purposes. Pace said it gives the department’s employees real world experience so they can be prepared for any emergency that might arise in the schools, offices or other locations.Photographs taken with a Panasonic G3 digital camera with the Panasonic Lumix 12-32mm lens. I processed the raw files and converted to black and white with PhotoNinja software.
Friday, July 17, 2015
"Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located where the freshwater of the Nisqually River meets the saltwater of south Puget Sound, creating the Nisqually River Delta. The delta is a biologically-rich and diverse area that supports a variety of habitats including the estuary, freshwater wetlands and riparian woodlands. It is considered the last unspoiled major estuary in Puget Sound. The Nisqually Delta has been designated as a National Natural Landmark because of its national significance as one of the best examples of this kind of coastal salt marsh system remaining in the North Pacific.
Nisqually Refuge is famous for the more than 275 migratory bird species that use the refuge for migration, wintering, or breeding. The refuge provides rearing and migration habitat for steelhead trout and several salmon species, and habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species. The Black River Unit, southwest of Olympia, provides high quality habitat for Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, migratory birds, and a diversity of other species." (from the US Fish and Wildlife Service).
Let's briefly look at Olympia.
The state capitol was begun in 1890 but construction languished because of funding issues. The building was finally completed in 1928, during the easy-money years of the Roaring Twenties. At a height of 287 feet, the dome is said to be the fifth tallest masonry dome on earth, meaning a dome held up by its stone bearing walls without reinforcement.The US capitol in Washington is higher, at 302 ft, but it has a steel framework. The 2001 earthquake caused serious damage and required a $118 million renovation and internal reinforcement.
Trivia item: The Capitol has the largest collection of Tiffany lights in the world, some 438 units. Go see them. The chandelier above the rotunda weighs 10,000 lb and is suspended 50 feet above the floor. Serious lamp.
Washington State is a wonderful place to live if you like organic vegetables and fruits and locally-sourced ingredients (like Italy, Spain, or other civilized places with a real food culture). Apples and pears are local specialties. This photograph is from the farmers' market in downtown Olympia.
Camera notes: the square frames are from a Fujifilm X-E1 digital camera, with raw files processed in PhotoNinja software. A polarizing filter helped darken the sky on this amazingly clear and sunny February day. The long wide panoramic frames are from a Hasselblad XPan film camera (which was manufactured by Fuji). The XPan had a film opening of 72x24mm, or twice the width of a standard 35mm camera frame. A friend took me flying over the area in a cloth airplane of the type where you can swing open the window.