The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Big Easy: Destined for a repeat?

Not if Ivor van Heerdon can help it.

This picture and the one that follows are of the Lower 9th ward in New Orleans. Bobby and I travelled to New Orleans in May 2006 and took these pictures and spoke with several residents. These homes appear to be standing but upon closer inspection were uninhabitable. The second picture shows a home with a cross and a heart placed on it as a memorial, most likely for residents that died in the house.

Yesterday I attended a lecture by Ivor van Heerdon, author of The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, and LSU professor. He was featured on numerous interviews and news shows following Katrina, you may have seen him. He knows why the levees failed, why New Orleans flooded. It wasn’t just the strong storm; it was the failure of man, of the Army Corp of Engineers. And the repairs that have been done will not protect the city.

Interestingly, he explained that they determined the rate of rising waters in various areas by finding stopped battery powered or pendulum clocks, and from cell phone records of people calling others telling them where the water was at certain times.

I am not going to re-hash his whole lecture here, but will just say that the various reasons for the failure of the levees have been well documented, and in his lecture and in his book he outlines solutions that must be implemented if we are to save the Louisiana coast and coastal cities. One thing he mentioned was that he is advocating the creation of an 8-29 commission, fashioned after the 9-11 commission that investigated the attack of that day. He neglected to say this in the lecture, but asked me afterwards to publicize the site where you can sign a petition to help create such a commission. Also at this site is lots of good information about the levees and their failure.

A lot needs to be done to prevent another catastrophe, and the ball is definitely in man’s court now, as we know the nature of the problem and what must be done to prevent it. But one thing that we, as consumers can do is quit buying cypress mulch. Cypress mulch is produced by grinding up cypress trees, and the trees of the cypress swamp are the best protection against storm surge, as the waves and water have to get past tree after tree. Cypress trees are mined from the Louisiana swamps, leaving vast expanses of water with a few tree stumps in them, perfect for a storm and its surge to move across. He told us that they had shown the areas to Walmart executives, and explained the problem to them, and that Walmart has agreed NOT to purchase Louisiana cypress mulch. Chalk one up for Walmart!

He showed us a photo of a hand lettered sign at a makeshift memorial for Katrina victims in the Lower 9th Ward. The sign, surrounded by white crosses, most with strands of beads draped over them, read: “If we had the will and one month’s money from Iraq we could restore all the levees and restore the coast.”

He also mentioned this site to see storm surge models and imagery. Lots of good info there.

He closed his talk with “If we ignore the science, we do so at our peril.”

The current administration has a history of ignoring science. From global warming to stem cell research and more. Please, please let’s elect someone with some intelligence in 2008.

I want to stress that homes and businesses in the French Quarter fared much better, and for tourists, New Orleans is up and running again. Here is a photo of a house and one of "tourist Joe" in the Quarter. Please visit, they need your dollars.

I am not ignoring the national scene, as Bush slams Nancy Pelosi for visiting Syria, but totally ignores the fact that republican congressmen had also visited. Alabama’s own Robert Aderholt was one of them. An unscientific aol poll has 55% saying Nancy was right to visit, 37% agree with Bush.

Bessemer briefs from the Birmingham News:

Circuit Judge Dan King was indicted yesterday on 56 counts related to misuse of campaign funds. He is suspended from the bench with pay, and claims innocence.

Bessemer utilities will be passing on a rate increase from TVA so our electric bills will go up an average of 91 cents a month.

And the School Board wants to double the size of the planned 750 seat auditorium in the new high school. I believe that a high school auditorium should be large enough to hold all the students and more. Build it big.

My roses, which usually bloom at the end of April or the first of May, are beginning to bloom. Maybe I will have some pictures in a day or so.

1 comment:

Dan said...

HI there,
Glad to see the mention of the cypress mulch issue. I too was at the meeting with Wal-Mart, and although they say that they're not going to buy Louisiana cypress, they've got no mechanism to ensure that. A lot of the cypress mulch coming out of Louisiana is in bags labelled FloridaGold or with addresses in FL or TX. Make no mistake however, that it's coming from Louisiana. The Save OUr Cypress Coalition has compiled the evidence, and you can see it yourself at
Really, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe's need to stop selling this destructive product altogether.