NOVA: Storm That Drowned a City
The PBS science documentary series "NOVA" has released "Storm That Drowned a City"; the program can be viewed online, and the web site features, among other things:
- a visual chronology of "exactly where and how 85 percent of the city wound up underwater"
- flood proofing cities: lessons from Venice, the Netherlands, and elsewhere,
- links and books (...including a link to this blog!) and
- The Man Who Knew: "Hurricane expert Ivor van Heerden has long predicted the tragedy brought by Katrina."
NOVA: If this region—New Orleans, the wetlands, and all—were a patient in the hospital, how would you describe them? At what stage are they?
VAN HEERDEN: Close to death.
NOVA: Really? Don't hold back.
VAN HEERDEN: (laughter) Thank you. Louisiana is a terminally ill patient requiring major surgery, a patient that if it was given a new heart and new lungs and a new liver would live. If it isn't, it's going to die. That's the equivalent. [...]
NOVA: Walk me through the worst-case scenario—if a hurricane hits New Orleans.
VAN HEERDEN: If we look at the case of a slow-moving Category 3 passing west of the city, the floodwaters push into Lake Pontchartrain, and then they push through some highly industrialized areas. As they pass through these areas, they pick up a lot of chemicals. Remember, the flooding is occurring at the same time as a lot of wind damage, a lot of things breaking and coming apart. So these highly contaminated waters then flow into the city.