Hurricane Katrina

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RESEARCH PAPER
Our environment and ecosystem allow us to live and enjoy our world. Natural disasters are not dependent on when man desires them or not. They can occur at any time in any place and we won't necessarily be expecting them. But we can decide on how we preserve our environment by taking the proper precautions for these natural disasters. The levee failure of New Orleans greatly devastated the aquatic ecosystem of the nearby lakes from Hurricane Katrina. The failure of the levees caused the water to rapidly breach the area and become contaminated with the city's sewage, chemicals, medical wastes and human remains which the city then pumped into the nearby lakes greatly destroying much of their ecosystem. During and following Katrina, water carrying all types of contaminants was pumped in to any available destination, as long as it didn’t submerge the city. Aside from Katrina wreaking havoc, one of the biggest failures of the government and the Army Corps of Engineers was the protection and efficiency of the levees. With the disastrous results of the levees and the water eventually engulfing the city, the damage on the environment was only amplified. We have to understand that the current "levee solution" causes more harm than good and must be reconsidered in how it is used. Thomas O. McGarity and Douglas A. Kysar from Cornell Law School quote the Association of State Floodplain Managers that states "There are only two kinds of levees, those that have failed and those that will fail" (3). Levee structure and design must be changed drastically in order to ensure and protect our ecosystems better. The levees' protection was disastrous and counterproductive. New Orleans sits on a very complex piece of land. Sherwood M. Gagliano's testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works states that this complex piece of land is made of "faults" which are "components of regional linked tectonic framework" (4). A fault is "a fracture surface along which rocks have moved relative to each other (Brodie, 10)" which leads to a very unstable surface. These faults provide for a weak foundation for any kind of structure built on top of them unless done so in an extremely calculated manner. Levees and floodwalls are built on top of and around all these unsustainable foundations. Because of these weak foundations, the levees and floodwalls tend to sag at different points causing them to rupture rather quickly. Gagliano mentions "breaches in the flood levees along the Mississippi River in the Plaquemines Parish below New Orleans may have been caused by underlying faults" (22). For some strange reason that is beyond comprehension, the New Orleanian government persisted on using these levees as their flood solution even though these fault locations are known to them. Gagliano states in his conclusion "Evidence from a number of different data sets indicates that faults in the GNO [general New Orleans] area and throughout southeastern Louisiana have been active during recent decades. Levees and floodwalls have been built across these active faults (24)." In fact, instead of using a different method or design to save the city, the government insisted that "steel sheet pilings" be "installed to reinforce the earth levees prior to Hurricane Katrina because of chronic foundation problems" (Gagliano, 22). The levee idea had to be solved with a different approach, especially not by placing a stronger material on an even weaker foundation. The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) states in a paper called Levees: The Double – edged Sword that the levee solution has a positive and negative affect. Although levees have served as a method for flood protection, given enough time the levees overflow and flood any nearby areas. Many sources claim that the Engineering Corps did a poor job of constructing the levees. The ASFPM believes "that levees are not a wise community choice and should never be used to protect...
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