New Orleans - WHY?

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Why was New Orleans built below sea level? That's just plain stupid. Apparently what they call the "bowl" must have been a lake or something at one time. I can understand the original part of the city was built long ago, and probably before they knew what they were doing, but you'd think someone would have stopped development long ago. The stupidity of some people never ceases to amaze me. From what I have seen on the news, the entire city is or will be destroyed. But they will probably rebuild it and all of us will have to pay for the rebuilding with our taxes. Dont get me wrong, I feel very sorry for the people that lived there, but who allowed this stupidity to occur? It seems that the government is adding new laws almost daily to protect us from ourselves, yet they did nothing to stop the development in that city, knowing that sooner or later it would fail. It dont take a genious to know what dangers existed. its pretty much basic science.
I am just searching the web to find out how many feet they are below sea level, but you'd think they would have used fill to at least bring buildings at or above sea level. Maybe thats not possible, which is why I am trying to find the depth.
They said that even that dome which was used for shelter during the hurricane is filling with water today. That appears to be a fairly new building, yet that too is below sea level. STUPID !!!!
Mark
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N.O. was settled by the French about 300 yrs ago, and was the furthest upriver they could sail against the current before the river turned south, using the prevailing SE winds, so they made a port and settlement there. In the 1700's, this river was a key and perfect port, so a town started. The real mess began when the Army Core of Engineers in the 1920's built up and extended the natural levees and smaller manmade levees around the french quarter, so that the greater n.o. area was less prone to annual river flooding. Unintended consequence: without the annual overflooding of the levees, with attendant silting up of the adjacent farm lands, those lands continued to sink due to crustal sagging, compressing the 60,000+ feet of young water saturated sediment that lies below the city. Once you isolate the backswamps and protect the city, the subsidence that has been going on for 30 million yrs, in response to sediment loading, continues, sucking the city deeper, without any compensating sediment infill. On top of that, the sealevel swamps south of N.O. used to greatly slow the winds of incoming storms. Now that those swamps are also protected from sediment spilling, they are mostly gone, below sealevel, leaving the city even more exposed to very high, undiminished winds. There is really no solution to further disasters, short of abandoning the area, which I favor. Also,building up the area before building on it would have done no good at all, except for perhaps a half century, as the forever-continuing subsindence rate is so high. Bottom Line - you are right, building there was idiocy. But the same can be said of coastal Miss, Alabama, Florida, and much of the east coast, where millions of people live in ignorant bliss. Building locations in the nation as a whole have never been planned at all. As a result, we all pay for this idiocy thru our exorbitant taxes to fund recovery, aide, rebuilding, and insurance bankruptcies. Capital Development incentive determines everything, and logic simply seems not to apply. There! I feel better already..................
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On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 21:32:22 -0700, "Roger Taylor"

Hmmmmmmm
This is fascinating. So the land keeps sinking and the buildings just go down too. So th whole city is just built on washed down junk (mostly sand I suppose). So, adding fill only compresses the silt more. This is most interesting. I dont think it should be rebuilt either, at least not at that location.
One news article I was reading said there were people in N.O. that were trying to fly (in the wind) during the hurricane. Not to cut down the people in that city, but that sort of fits. The whole city was trying to fly (achieve the impossible)....
Mark
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Well, we need to abandon a few other cities, using that logic. I admit I don't care for the idea of living below sea level on a coast, but I'm only about 6 feet above where I live. Katrina would have drowned my upstairs neighbor.
Anyone remember the Mississippi River floods of a few years ago? Anyone know a city older than 200 years that wasn't established on a waterway?

Folks in Florida, who HATE big gov't tellin' 'em what to do, like to cut down mangroves to save their cherished million-dollar views. But, soon as they do that, M.N. comes along and washes away their million-dollar beach. All of a sudden, the same folks want big gov't and my tax money to put the sand back on their beach because it left and went to some new barrier island. Mangroves are funny looking plants that hold islands and shorelines together and give little fishes a place to hide. Little fishes become big fishes that fill our tummies at fast food restaurants. Some of those fishies used to be luxuries because they were hard to catch and transport. Now we can coat them with grease and eat all we care to if we are willing to get into our gas guzzlers and drive over to a restaurant. Of course, if the price of gas goes to $5, I can't drive as much and I sure as heck am not going to get on a bike :o)
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What is facinating is to see how they deal with it. For the construction of large buildings, they drive pilings into the ground until they reach solid subsoil. At the New Orleans airport, I've seen a pile driver drive a 30' telephone pole flush into the ground in 3 licks! They tie on a new pole and keep driving, continuing the process until they get to about 1ft per lick. There may be 50-100 of these piling stacks under each foundation. So if a treated piling has a 50-70 year life span, all these buildings are eventually going to sink into the muck. And don't forget about New Orlean's cemetaries. They have to use above ground crypts because being below sea level, the water table will float caskets out of the ground.
Bob S.
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Yes, I have seen those pilings used in other places. I always wondered about the reason they use wood instead of steel and concrete posts (drive in a pipe, like a well casing, and fill with concrete). I have seen this done too.
I have heard about coffins floating. Not a pleasant thought ! I tend to wonder about the above ground crypts. I doubt they are watertight. You'd think they would build the cemeteries outside the city on higher ground, but that is too logical.
Mark
Mark
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"Bob S." wrote:

Really nothing all that fundamentally different than in many locations where buildings are on loamy or other non-loadbearing soils over solid subsoils. And, there are other locations where water tables are so high as to preclude below ground artifices of many sorts. It's just that NO is a more extreme example than the rest of us are used to.
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Another significant component in New Orleans' development was the deepening of the channel(s) at the Gulf, by a northener in 1879. :') A fascinating story: http://www.nps.gov/vick/visctr/sitebltn/eads.htm
Meanwhile, a MAJOR grain transshipment port is down. Ditto the area railroads, etc.
May the area redevelop intelligently. First, though, to alleviate the impact on the people.
HTH, J
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Like many things, "damn, it made sense at the time".
Hell, if Venice can do it, why not New Orleans? Go for the ol' "lived-in lake" look.
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Excellent description of the problem, thanks for the research and history. Very well articulated.
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Why do you not archive? Tom
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This is Turtle.
New Orleans when it was established in the 1700's was 10 feet above sea level.
Now 200 years later and falling about 1/8 of a inch a year is -3 feet below sea level. Now this is Jackson square and Canal street. other places are as much as 8 feet below sea level.
Now Man will never stop being stupid as long as he is being entertained by life.
TURTLE
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Well said, Turtle. How are you getting along?
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This is Turtle.
Thank you there.
I'm doing pretty good but i have this room spinning around on me. Do you have any brakes to stop the room from spinning around ? i have tried laing down and holding on to the wall but it keep spinning around.
TURTLE
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On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 22:38:16 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

http://www.weather.com/newscenter/specialreports/hurricanes/vulnerablecities/neworleans.html
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BJK/is_15_11/ai_68642805
Everybody knew, nobody cared. It borders on negligent homocide.
FEMA makes us haul in enough dirt to get 11 feet above sea level to get a building permit. (South Florida)
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I don't disagree with anything you said, but the same thing could be said of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and probably others. All of them are in the path of potential large scale destruction. I bet you didn't know that a volcano in the Canary Islands is extremely unstable and likely to collapse into the sea. When it does, it will send a 200' tsunami onto the US east coast. Can you imagine what a 200' tsunami will do to NY, Boston, etc? Or that Yellowstone Park is a supervolcano, with an overdue eruption. The last time it errupted, it put several feet of ash over much of the US. So what are you going to do? You just have to do the best you can, and hope to dodge the bullet.
(New Orleans has a bigger problem than being below sea level. Eventually the course of the Mississippi will change to go well west of the city. When that happens, they will have no drinking water since the sea will back up into what is now the Mississippi. The Army Corp of Engineers is stopping from happening, but it seems inevitable in the next 100 years.)
Now, what does any of this have to do with home repair?
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I do agree there are many dangerous areas in this country and likely in other countries. The thing is that building in area of volcanos and earthquakes is also stupid, but building in a hole (New Orleans) could be prevented. They could have just built further upstream, since I am sure that the whole area is not below sea level. From the websites I viewed, New Orleans was "started" in the 1700's. But at the time they were on the higher ground. But I suppose they later had to turn every square foot into real estate, and thus profit, and that's where the trouble occured.
I did not know about those volcanos. Interesting !!!
Actually, I think this has a lot to do with home repair, since it was the homes and other buildings that were improperly built. It would be the same if I bought land on a lake during a dry season and built a house right along the edge of the water. Then the rain came and my house flooded because the lake returned to it's original level. People dont consider things when they build, and the real estate people will sell anything that resembles a piece of land. It's just like those huge million dollar mansions on the hills and bluffs in California, then they wonder why the land slides. They could build a one room cabin there and most likely never have a problem, but add a 50 tons or more of building materials to a hillside, then do the same about 20 more times on that same hillside, and guess what happens.
Mark
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On Wed, 31 Aug 2005 00:26:52 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

Bingo, you have the answer. Of course the underlying reason they built in a stupid location is $$$$$$$$$$$. People with connections undoubtedly bought the land cheap, then got the city to allow them to build where they should never have been allowed to build. We have people in Arizona who build in the middle of dry rivers and when they get flooded out they expect the gvt to take care of them (and often the gvt does). Some places have been flooded multiple times yet they STILL are allowed to rebuild.

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Do any of them have massive pumps running 24/7/365 to pump water out of the city?
The fact that this needs to be done should set off some type of light bulbs? Perhaps not.....
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Here's a good read for those exercised by conflicts between man and nature: The Control of Nature -- by John McPhee; Paperback
TB
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