Re: engineering questions re. Katrina

From: Bill Hamilton <>
Date: Wed Sep 21 2005 - 12:28:51 EDT

My understanding is that a large barge broke its moorings and broke through the levee bounding a canal.

Bill Yoder <> wrote:Ruth,

In my mind the biggest immediate issue in this disaster is that the
levees broke. Why did the levees break? They should not have broken. I
suspect that the amount of water that flowed over the levees would not
have caused anywhere near the amount of flooding that was caused by the
water that flowed through the breaches.

Apparently the water that overflowed the levees ran down the other side
and washed out the foundation of the levees. This soon weakened them and
they failed. Is this a reasonable way to design a levee? IMO this is
represents a major failure in levee design. I am confident that levees
can be designed to preclude this.

Bill Yoder
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!

Bill Hamilton
William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
586.986.1474 (work) 248.652.4148 (home) 248.303.8651 (mobile)
"...If God is for us, who is against us?" Rom 8:31
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Received on Wed Sep 21 12:30:56 2005

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