Will.Whim

A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Levees

Bush (four days after Hurricane Katrina hit): “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Max Mayfield, Director of the National Hurricane Center (19 hours before Katrina lands): “I don’t think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very grave concern.”

See AP video converage of Bush’s briefing by FEMA before the landfall (Quicktime movie).

Is this Bush’s “I did not have sex with that woman”?

More details. Partial transcript of Aug 28 briefing. More context for quotation by Mayfield:

You know, there’s a very complex system of levies there in the New Orleans area. Some of the valleys that we see — and I’m sure that all of these areas are already going under water out near the mouth of the Mississippi River. The colors that you see here show inundation over the land areas.

One of the valleys here in Lake Poncetrain, we’ve got on our forecast track., if it maintains its intensity, about 12-1/2 feet of storm surge in the lake. The big question is going to be: will that top some of the levies? And the current track and the forecast we have now suggests that there will be minimal flooding in the city of New Orleans itself, but we’re — we’ve always said that the storm surge model is only accurate within about 20 percent.

If that track were to deviate just a little bit to the west, it would — it makes all the difference in the world. I do expect there will be some of the levies over top even out here in the western portion where the airport is. We’ve go valleys of 10 feet that can’t overtop some of those levies.

The problem that we’re going to have here — remember, the winds go counterclockwise around the center of the hurricane. So if the really strong winds clip Lake Poncetrain, that’s going to pile some of that water from Lake Poncetrain over on the south side of the lake. I don’t think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levies will be topped or not, but that’s obviously a very, very grave concern.

(from NY Times report).

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