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miércoles, agosto 27, 2008

Huckava Job, Brownie, Part Deux?

Its name is Gustav. And nobody is entirely sure where it's going. But the 5 day forecast map from makes an alarming prediction:

And that prediction is that this storm could grow in intensity and travel to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Join me in the City that Care Forgot.

AP reports:

On the cusp of Hurricane Katrina's third anniversary, nervous Gulf Coast residents watched Wednesday as a storm threatened to strengthen and crash ashore, testing everything the city has rebuilt.

Forecasters warned that Gustav had the potential to grow into a perilous Category 3 hurricane and approach the Gulf Coast by Monday morning — though cautioned that a storm's track and intensity are extremely difficult to predict several days in advance.

"We know it's going to head into the Gulf. After that, we're not sure where it's heading," said Rebecca Waddington, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center. "For that reason, everyone in the Gulf needs to be monitoring the storm."

City officials were taking no chances, and drawing blueprints of how to evacuate the city if necessary. New Orleans plans to institute a mandatory evacuation order should a Category 3 or stronger hurricane be within 72 hours of the city.
Unfortunately, repairs made to the levee system since Katrina aren't complete, and the Army Corps of Engineers is already talking about the possibilities for another disaster:
Since (Katrina), the Army Corps of Engineers has spent billions of dollars to improve the levee system. Though experts say the city and surrounding region are safer from hurricanes, the improved levee protection is incomplete and holes remain.

Floodgates have been installed on drainage canals in New Orleans to cut off storm surge from entering the city, and levees have been raised and in many places strengthened with concrete.

Robert Turner Jr., the regional levee director, said the levee system can handle a storm with the likelihood of occurring every 30 years, what the corps calls a 30-year storm. By comparison, Katrina was a 396-year storm.

"There's always the possibility if it comes from the right direction, and if it is large enough to create storm surge in the realm of Katrina, that there could be overtopping" of levees, Turner said.
A "30-year" storm? A "396-year" storm? These are engineering measurements, the probabilities and statistics that spell potential disasters. There is no comfort here. "30-year" storms can occur more frequently than every 3 decades. There is no real prediction of what category hurricane Gustav can become. There is nothing but uncertainty.

This leaves me feeling a deep and pervasive sadness. Yes, it looks like Gustav will avoid my home near Tulum, in Quintana Roo, Mexico, and I'm very thankful for that. But that's not really my point. I just can't bear the thought of yet another flood in New Orleans. NOLA and her citizens deserve something better:

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