Friday, August 28, 2015
Visiting the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans 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.