Hurricane Katrina’s major impact on the nation came from the impact on the oil and gas industry where Louisiana is a key production and logistics state. The fate of the citizens of NOLA had almost no economic impacts on the national economy as both Mississippi and Alabama impacts almost did not register nationally. Clearly Mississippi outflow shipping does have national impacts that don’t take long to register. 600 barges a day move up and down river past Vicksburg, Mississippi. The USACOE has suspended that traffic for reasons of marine safety and for impact of wakes on surrounding levees.
WAPO has an interactive graphic on the Bonne Carre Spillway dumping river water into Lake Ponchantrain. This is almost always the first step in protecting NOLA during high water. IN the 1927 flood NOLA citizens blew up levees further north on the river to protect NOLA and in essence this is the same strategy used by USCOE opening the Morganza Spillway. And perhaps the Old River Control Structure.
Whatever the hydrology the signs are not good for both weather over the impacted area and the timing and impact of the strategy so far. It looks to me like we may be headed to a major levee failure. I am no engineer. But the impacts on the national economy even if no failure are enormous and covered in today’s New York Times.
I wish we could know the future of this crisis as it looks now to extend well past July 4th of this year. A long time to be wet.