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2008 Failure of Mississippi River Levees Points to New Disaster Planning Models in Age of Global Warming

Posted Jul 07 2008 7:14pm

“Is everything spinning out of control? Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable.... Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.”

Alan Fram and Eileen Putnam

Associated Press

June 22, 2008

With so many natural disasters occurring simultaneously, it can be quite tempting to lump them into a single nightmarish disaster. If we are to survive the growing frequency and ferocity of killer storms in this age of global warming, we must resist the temptation to wallow in helplessness. Humanity can and will learn from the Mississippi River levee failures of 2008 and adapt our disaster planning models where possible.

So, was the horrendous flooding of 2008, which caused multiple Mississippi River levees to fail, all that different from what happened along the American Gulf Coast in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina? The answer is yes and no but we can learn from both.

Katrina was at the time the largest and fastest hurricane on record. While much blame justifiably was passed from one government agency to another, from a mechanical perspective, the sea swells which Katrina sent hurtling toward New Orleans and the rest of that section of coastline were quite high but not unimaginably so.

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