Re: engineering questions re. Katrina

From: Terry M. Gray <>
Date: Tue Sep 20 2005 - 01:12:34 EDT


I like your questions, but was told by someone that the response to
the suggestion that people shouldn't live in New Orleans was
mentioned early on by some official and he was chided severely for it
and eventually retracted. If anyone knows the details of this, I'd be
interested in them.

I'm reminded a bit of an article by Davis Young (again I'm only
familiar with it by word of mouth) suggesting that geologically/
geographically some places on earth are not fit for human habitation--
say, earthquake zones, near volcanoes, stormy coastlines, incessant
flood regions, etc.

Finally, from an engineer's perspective what's the difference between
New Orleans and the Netherlands? Is it fewer storms? Better engineering?


On Sep 19, 2005, at 8:29 PM, Keith Miller wrote:

> The message below is from Ruth:
>> I'm not on the listserv, so please cc me if you reply to asa:
>> We have watched the events in New Orleans, southern Mississippi
>> and Alabama with increasing sorrow and frustration following
>> Hurricane Katrina's arrival in late August. All the human
>> suffering there seems particularly poignant to this engineer, at
>> least, because Katrina should not have been unexpected. The
>> questions raised by the storm's effects have been lying there for
>> all of us to think about for decades, but the slow and, for many
>> in the area, torturous response of those equipped to help strongly
>> suggests that these questions had not ever considered seriously by
>> those in authority. I invite ASA members, particularly those in
>> engineering, to dialogue in this newsletter, on the listserv and
>> in Perspectives, on questions such as these:
>> Is it humanly possible to engineer safety for the population of a
>> large city below sea level in a region subject to known periodic
>> large strong storms? If yes, what sort of engineering solutions
>> are there, and can they be implemented now in rebuilding New
>> Orleans? Or should the solution be sought in permanent relocation
>> of the population that lived on the Mississipi delta? Or is there
>> some intermediate choice? What sort of engineering solutions
>> would help with evacuation, rescue, and providing for basic human
>> needs? Are there technologies known or conceivable to protect oil
>> refineries, oil drilling platforms and other vital industries
>> close to the coast? Can we engineer an electrical distribution
>> system for coastal communities that is not vulnerable to both
>> flood and wind? What about water, sewage and natural gas
>> distribution?
>> I'm sure I haven't thought of half the questions relevant to this
>> situation, yet it seems to me if God has given me the calling of
>> engineer, considering these kinds of questions should be high on
>> my list of assigned stewardship duties. I welcome other members'
>> thoughts and look forward to productive dialogue.
>> Ruth
>> --
>> Ruth Douglas Miller
>> Associate Professor
>> Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering
>> 261 Rathbone Hall
>> Kansas State University
>> Manhattan, KS 66506-5204
>> ph 785-532-4596
>> fx 785-532-1188
>> Support the KSU Solar Car Racing Team:
>> Adopt-a-Cell!

Terry M. Gray, Ph.D.
Computer Support Scientist
Chemistry Department
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(o) 970-491-7003 (f) 970-491-1801
Received on Tue Sep 20 01:15:54 2005

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