why did the 17th st canal levee fail

why did the 17th st canal levee fail - Why Did the 17th...

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Why Did the 17th Street Canal Levee Fail? By David Kestenbaum Source: npr.org May 19, 2006 The levee failures around New Orleans rank among the worst engineering disasters of all time. Some of the breaches can be blamed purely on the storm -- it was huge, after all. But investigators are finding that other failures were due to engineering flaws. The London Avenue Canal and the 17th Street Canal both failed when water had only risen part of the way up the wall. Had those walls held, large sections of New Orleans might have stayed dry. George Sins knows this well. He could see the wall of the 17th Street Canal from his kitchen -- when he had a kitchen. The wall was there at the back of his yard, atop a long mound of earth. The canal was behind it; it ran from Lake Pontrachain, through his neighborhood and on for about two miles. He never gave it much thought. Sins and his neighbors trusted the wall had been well built. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had a reputation for overbuilding things, and the local levee boards sometimes complained that the Corps' standards were too high. A Televised Water World When hurricane Katrina threatened, Sins and his wife did the prudent thing and evacuated. After the storm hit, he had one of those weird modern moments: He saw his house on television. News cameras on helicopters were flying over the 17th Street Canal. He could see the circular window on his second floor, but the rest of the house was underwater. The cameras showed a huge gash in the 17th Street Canal, about four doors down from his home. The canal connected to Lake Pontchartrain a few more blocks down, and water from the lake was pouring into the neighborhood through the gash. And it wasn't stopping. New Orleans was filling up, becoming an extension of the lake. To the east, the London Avenue Canal also broke -- in three places. When Sins returned home, he found he'd been living closer to nature than he'd fully appreciated, because now it was in his swimming pool. He found fish, crabs and four turtles. "Three of them were gigantic, bigger than a big watermelon," he says, "way too big to get out with a fishing net." Sins' house is now gutted, and he doesn't hesitate when you ask him whom he blames for all the misery. "The federal government," he says. "Absolutely." 'Hold the Corps Accountable!' Across the street by a mangled garage door, someone else has hung a banner that reads "Hold the Corps Accountable!" The Army Corps of Engineers oversaw the entire hurricane-protection system. The Corps is not terribly popular in town these days. One official says employees have been spit at in public
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meetings. And they don't always wear their bright red shirts with the castles on them when they go out anymore. Sins believes the Army Corps botched the design for the canal walls. He talks about it as
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why did the 17th st canal levee fail - Why Did the 17th...

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