About Hurricane Katrina and the Devastation of New Orleans
Recorded September 11, 2005
1. This program description differs significantly from others, in terms of form, length and content. In light of the gravity of the crisis attendant on the devastation of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina and the wild rumors circulating on the internet about the disaster, New Orleans native and long-time resident Ed Haslam set forth the facts concerning the city, its environmental/historical situation and what actually caused the devastation. The author of Mary, Ferrie and the Monkey Virus, Ed has been featured in numerous past programs, including FTR#’s 16, 19, 62, 63, 76, 198.
2. In the broadcast, Ed draws upon his intimate, authoritative knowledge of the city and his maritime experience as a competitive sailor on Lake Ponchartrain to illustrate how the failure of the New Orleans authorities to react to the damming of the 17th Street Canal caused the city’s “mortal wound.” Caused by wooden wreckage from boats and buildings, the blockage of the canal at the Buck Town Bridge caused the canal to overflow. Ed explains that the 17th Street Canal is the primary drainage conduit for the flood-prone city. In the 19th century, engineer Baldwin Wood illustrated how such a canal, combined with some of the world’s most powerful pumps, could be used to keep the city from flooding. That canal and the pumps were built, and, in combination with one another, they have kept the city functional for years. (The pumps are capable of pumping an amount of water equal to the volume of six elephants per second.) When the canal became blocked, that enormous inflow of water caused the sluiceway’s levee to break, flooding the city.
3. Ed “walks” the audience through the website maps.google.com in order to show them the precise images of what happened. Using the search function on that site, type in “Drifter Lane New Orleans” to get an overview of the neighborhood in which the destruction took place. Then click on “satellite” once the image comes on the monitor. This will give the satellite overview of the neighborhood. Using the “zoom” function, zoom in to get a closer look. Then click on “Katrina” to get a satellite picture of the neighborhood after the hurricane wreaked its havoc. The dam caused by the wreckage of the buildings and boats clearly visible in the satellite picture taken before the storm is very evident. The breach in the 17th Street Canal is clearly visible in the “Katrina” picture as well.
4. Ed points out that sheer human incompetence was responsible for the over $100 billion in damage resulting from the storm. In addition, he underscores the fact that the Gulf of Mexico has tremendous importance for the nation’s energy supply. In addition to the off-shore oil rigs that were destroyed or closed down, the only port facilities that can off-load petroleum from supertankers were shut down by Katrina.