Re: engineering questions re. Katrina

From: Robert Schneider <>
Date: Tue Sep 20 2005 - 07:17:33 EDT


The public official who said that he thought New Orleans should not be
rebuilt was the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. He
beat a hasty retreat before the outcry. To make such a statement when so
many people who live in and love New Orleans were suffering from the storm
seemed particularly insensitive.

I believe the engineering problems are severe indeed. On the other hand,
cities have a life of their own and a history, and New Orleans has been a
particularly rich one. How does one relate this factor to the environmental
factors and the engineering problems? A question that begs for a good

Bob Schneider

----- Original Message -----
From: "Terry M. Gray" <>
To: <>
Cc: "Ruth Douglas Miller" <>
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 1:12 AM
Subject: Re: engineering questions re. Katrina

> Ruth,
> 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?
> TG
> 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 07:20:18 2005

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