Interesting Comparison - New Orleans vs. The Netherlands

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Mar 6, 2005
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The world reacts to the Katrina disaster:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WEATHER/09/02/katr...orld/index.html

In the Netherlands, much of which lies below sea level as in New Orleans, there was some consternation that the Louisiana city was so poorly prepared, AP reported.

The nation installed massive hydraulic sea walls known as the Delta Works after devastating floods in 1953.

"I don't want to sound overly critical, but it's hard to imagine that [the damage caused by Katrina] could happen in a Western country," Ted Sluijter, press spokesman for Neeltje Jans, the public park where the Delta Works are exhibited, was reported as saying by AP.

"It seemed like plans for protection and evacuation weren't really in place, and once it happened, the coordination" was poor.
Someone brought up the comparison between the Netherland and the New Orleans situation today - and I thought it would be really quite interesting to expand on that.

As a child, our class organized its annual Geography field trip to The Netherlands - to visit Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the huge country of reclaimed sea land that these cities inhabit.

We also visited the coastline, and I particularly remember paying a visit to the famed "Delta Works". I don't recall all the details - but as a child I just remember standing next to huge leviathans of concrete, steel and hydraulics. Totally overpowering. It made our class look like a colony of ants.


The Netherlands Delta Works

The Delta Works/The Netherlands Flood informational website:

http://www.delta2003.nl/index.php?url=/del...awerken/&lng=en

Researching subjects such as this makes me remember just why I was so interested in the subject of Geography at school.

KR
 

dcguy

There are similarities, but there are major differences. In the Netherlands, they created land in the middle, and in New Orleans they are trying to keep water out of an island city. Furthermore, the Mississippi River is one the great rivers of the world, and that causes more difficulties... One of the problems in building a huge levee system is the effect on the wetlands in southern Louisiana. You can surround Louisiana and New Orleans with all the steel and concrete you want...but you will destroy a valuable ecosystem...

Here's a good map of the Netherlands...the areas in blue are below sea level...

http://www.minbuza.nl/default.asp?CMS_ITEM=MBZ302750
 
Apr 8, 2005
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Winnipeg, MB
There are similarities, but there are major differences. In the Netherlands, they created land in the middle, and in New Orleans they are trying to keep water out of an island city...
...You can surround Louisiana and New Orleans with all the steel and concrete you want...but you will destroy a valuable ecosystem...
I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. True, it would be difficult, but it can be done. The existing system worked reasonably well up to this point, however it couldn't cope with this kind of event. Studies into what failed and how should provide the answers on how to prevent a repeat event.
 

Rob_Davis

Another major difference is that in The Netherlands, such measures were put in place in order to build a city. In New Orleans, the measures were engineered in order to protect a city that already existed. Retrofitting is rarely the best way to go.

So that begs the question; if New Orleans is to be rebuilt, should we do so by more retrofitting? Or would it be better to build up the land itself, literally burying the old city under 30 feet of bedrock and sand, and then put a new water works system in place that is specifically engineered for a new, above sea-level city?

Yeah, losing all that history sucks, but anything less is tempting fate.
 

Jay Cazel

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Jul 5, 2004
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After the 1900 storm in Galviston TX, did they not rasie that city like 8 feet or so??? Granted that was 100 years ago and Galviston was much smaller than NO but could not part of NO could be rasied up some?
 

Rob_Davis

You'd think that would be the smart way to go. Simply fill the bowl. But there is not the slightest chance that politicians would let that happen. It makes too much sense. And all the bleeding hearts crying about the value of the history of the city will get their way, regardless of public safety.
 

Greg Burns

There is no need for any massive egineering project to raise the ground level artificially since the land will continue to sink as long as more oil is pumped out in the future. In the Netherlands they are pro-environment while in the US we ignore the consequences of disturbing the wetlands of LA. And the fact a levee system was built to hold back and manipulate nature's process just made matters worse. Don't rebuild N.O.,Slidell,Gulf Port, Biloxi cause some 50 yrs from now global warming will raise sea levels in the first place. So if we try anything like the Dutch we'd be hypocrits knowing both below-sea level zones will be under water sooner or later. You can't control nature period. Makes you wonder would we rebuild all our east coast cities after a great mega-tsunami hits triggered by the massive landslide of half the side of a Canary Is.(?) volcano. I say what nature takes back, let her have.
 
The 1953 storm that affect the Netherlands was also Britain’s worst natural disaster and it some ways it also resembles New Orleans (sea defence giving way and flooding a low lying community).

The years following the storm sea defences along the cost were strengthened – but over the years these have fallen into disrepair as money was diverted into more pressing projects. Does all this sound familiar?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/unde...953_flood.shtml
 

jladue

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Sep 1, 2005
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norman, ok
towerofstorms.net
controlling nature and disaster preparedness

You can't control nature period. Makes you wonder would we rebuild all our east coast cities after a great mega-tsunami hits triggered by the massive landslide of half the side of a Canary Is.(?) volcano. I say what nature takes back, let her have.
I wouldn't go that far. I'm sure you certainly would want to divert an asteroid headed our way and that's called controlling nature. If it's feasable, then we have to do it. New Orleans though is a story of the failure of the Army Corps anticipating that the delta needs to be replenished by river silt each year. Water management's got to be done in a way that allows silt to keep the delta alive. The Corps estimated a $15 billion price tag to build a proper levee around the city, and coastline restoration (see http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tporleans/ind....html#076466Now
I think we should be taking lessons from the Dutch on how to do this right.

But the Dutch aren't perfect either. It took a big disaster for them to learn their lesson. However, back then I'm not sure if anybody anticipated their disaster. We did anticipate this disaster and yet nobody wanted to spend the money. Even so, we only started anticipating this disaster perhaps 15 years or so ago. That isn't enough time to reverse the damage but it would've been enough to spend the money on a better levee system. Unfortunately, humans are notoriously bad at doing anything to prepare for something that hasn't been experienced. Will we ever learn our lesson to prepare for something like this in the future such as a major earthquake in LA or Seattle, or a tsunami?

regards,

Jim
 
Apr 21, 2005
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Chicago, IL
There is no need for any massive egineering project to raise the ground level artificially since the land will continue to sink as long as more oil is pumped out in the future. In the Netherlands they are pro-environment while in the US we ignore the consequences of disturbing the wetlands of LA. And the fact a levee system was built to hold back and manipulate nature's process just made matters worse. Don't rebuild N.O.,Slidell,Gulf Port, Biloxi cause some 50 yrs from now global warming will raise sea levels in the first place. So if we try anything like the Dutch we'd be hypocrits knowing both below-sea level zones will be under water sooner or later. You can't control nature period. Makes you wonder would we rebuild all our east coast cities after a great mega-tsunami hits triggered by the massive landslide of half the side of a Canary Is.(?) volcano. I say what nature takes back, let her have.
Ok all the people who would get displaced can move into your neighborhood and it that is anywhere close to me then ill move out.
 
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