August 29, 2005
As the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed
over New Orleans during the morning of Aug. 29, officials
had closed all major routes, including the 32-mile causeway
and the twin spans of Interstate 10 across Lake Ponchartrain,
says a Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development.
Reports of 4-ft-high flooding on U.S. 90 and 3 ft of flooding
in some canals were expected, says Mark Lambert, LADOTD spokesman,
speaking by cell phone and without electricity. "The
storm is at this moment getting closer," he said at about
10:30 a.m. "It's very hard to assess anything right now."
While most of the highways are built to withstand major hurricanes,
the possibility of flying debris causing damage is a big concern,
and several old moveable bridges may be at risk, he adds.
The biggest transportation item of concern right now is an
old nine-mile connector of LA 1 to Port Fourchon. The connector
carries 18% of the nation's oil and gas supply. Moreover,
the connector links to Grand Isle's Barrier Island, which
is inhabited. "We are almost certain that the whole connector
may be underwater," says Lambert. Ironically, the LADOTD
was in the middle of conducting a report to investigate why
two bids this July to replaceand elevatethe connector
came in $100 million over engineers' estimate of $154 million
(ENR 7/18, p. 13). The new connector would be 22.5 ft high.
Winds, estimated at 150 miles per hour, ripped two holes
in the roof of the Superdome early Monday. By midday, ground-level
witnesses counted up to 60 gaps in the ceiling. The vast structure,
with 77,000 seats, is New Orleans' main storm shelter, currently
home to 8,000 to 9,000 residents who were unable or unwilling
to heed the mandatory evacuation order.
An engineer who inspected the roof at the request of Gov.
Kathleen Blanco (D) declared it sound, according to news reports.
Strips of metal began peeling away from the roof early on
the morning of Aug. 29, and numerous other leaks were reported
as well. But damage appears to be limited so far to the roofing
Designed by Curtis and Davis Architects and Planners and
built in 1973 by Huber Hunt and Nichols, now part of Phoenix-based
Hunt Group, the Superdome was roofed with steel framing covered
with polyurethane. The roof's sprayed-on Hypalon membrane
was damaged in 1980 by a freak hailstorm. By the time a decision
was made to proceed with repair, the original estimate of
$450,000 had ballooned to $4.5 million, in part because of
subsequent corrosion of the steel members (Engineering
News-Record 8/5/82 p. 11).
The state and the building's insurer, Reliance Insurance
Co., Philadelphia, reached a settlement in 1987 for $2.7 million
to repair the roof (Engineering
News-Record 2/12/87 p. 16). An architectural firm that
recently studied the Superdome's interior, but not its roof,
says that the roof may have been replaced two or three years
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District instructed
its personnel to evacuate the city on Saturday. Many of the
1,500 employees headed for the Corps Mississippi Valley headquarters
in Vicksburg, Miss. On Monday morning the Corps was establishing
a hurricane command center there and coordinating recovery
operations and monitoring operations of the Mississippi River
levee system. Water was overtopping the Industrial Canal lock
walls on the East Bank of the city, reported John Hall, Corps
public affairs officer, But so far the structure is
holding, he said.
The Industrial Canal Lock, which spills water from Lake Ponchartrain
when necessary, is one of the busiest in the world. The busy
trade link connects the Mississippi River, the Gulf Intracoastal
Waterway, the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, the Inner Harbor
Navigation Canal and Lake Ponchartrain. Congestion is common;
barge strings often wait up to 36 hours to pass through the
lock, which measures 75 ft x 640 ft x 31.5 ft. Plans are under
way to expand the dimensions to 110 ft x 1200 f x 36 ft, but
concerns about wetlands loss and displacement of residents
have delayed the project.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, in an interview with NBC about
11:30 a.m. Monday, says it looks like the levees are holding,
although water has come over the top in the 9th Ward, in southeast
part of New Orleans. There is substantial flooding in that
area. He also reported one pumping station has stopped operating,
but for the most part the flood control system is holding.
Further east, Mississippi officials say there are reports
of inundations of numerous portions of Interstate 10 paralleling
the Gulf coast.
The New Orleans airport was closed and calls to the Port
of New Orleans could not be completed due to busy circuits.
The list of counties and parishes eligible for Federal disaster
assistance is growing as Hurricane Katrina passes through.
Added Monday to 38 parishes in Louisiana declared eligible
even before the storm came ashore were 11 counties in Mississippi
and six counties in Alabama, as well as two heavily populated
counties in South Florida, Broward and Miami Dade, that
were hit Aug. 24.
Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for
Emergency Preparedness and Response, says the federal funding
is available to state and eligible local governments and certain
private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for
debris removal and emergency measures.
For a period of up to 72 hours, federal funding is available
at 100 per cent of the total eligible costs for emergency
protective measures, excluding debris removal. After the initial
period, federal funds are available for public safety debris
removal and emergency protective measures at 75 percent of
Brown said the declaration also makes cost-shared funding
available for approved projects that reduce future disaster
risks. FEMA is mobilizing equipment and resources to assist
law enforcement with evacuations, establishing shelters, and
meeting other emergency needs.
Worst May Not Hit New Orleans posted
Aug. 29, 2005
Roof Peels Off posted August
Collapses Miami Overpass Under Construction 08/26/2005