Friday, May 13, 2011

A Mighty Flood -OR- "Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes..."

**Updated 2:01AM 6/19/2014: See below.**

Actually, this is an aerial view of a flooded trailer park near Watkins, Tenn., May 10, 2011.

I'm not actually sure where this is in relation to the Mississippi River. The only Watkins, Tenn., I found is near Murfreesboro.


OK, this was intended to be a quick update that ended up not being so quick and that I didn't actually post it until Saturday morning. I still plan another entry today or, now, more likely, Sunday -- to discuss several items.

First, as some of you may know, Blogger was down for about 24 hours as a result (as I understand it) of an upgrade by Google (that Devourer of All Space and Time gone awry.

Blogger went into "read only" mode and entries posted after a certain point Wednesday morning (7:37AM PDT or 10:37AM EDT) -- which included my update to my previous entry that featured a new lead image -- vanished. While Blogger said nothing would really be lost, my update never reappeared.

I have since re-updated the previous entry. The lead image was supposed to be -- and now is -- the following taken Wednesday shortly before 2PM in the Enid Haupt Garden of the Smithsonian Institution castle grounds as I was walking back from the basement level employees-only little cafe/deli. In this case, "employees-only" means all Feds and contractors and you have to sign in and show a badge.

Here is that image taken at 1:57PM on May 11, 2011.

I'm not sure if Blogger has really resolved all of its "roll out" issues.


**Updated 2:01AM 6/19/2014: Content removed.**


Notes From Along a River That Drains a Continent ...

I found some captivating pictures of the ongoing middle and lower Mississippi River flooding. I didn't realize the flooding was that bad -- I guess I wasn't aware of just how much it had rained.

The really fascinating part -- not to mention totally devastating for the people who live in the resulting flood zone -- is that the Army Corps of Engineers has indeed decided to open for the first time in 38 years the Morganza Spillway to relieve floodwater pressures and spare Baton Rouge and New Orleans (which has suffered enough), in particular if the latter's levees were to break.

This flood-way is located just upriver of Morganza, La., and apparently has not been opened in 38 years.

This will allow flood waters to enter the Atchafalaya River basin, flooding several thousands square miles of "Cajun country" and flooding out the approx. 25,000 people who live there as the water eventually reaches the Gulf of Mexico.

I can never say the name "Atchafalaya" enough.

Two interesting points:

1. The Atchafalaya River is a distributary of the Mississippi River.

According to a substitute professor whose name I cannot recall -- he was filling in for a few weeks for the regular one, Prof. Gerry Galloway, who was an awesome teacher, in my water resources management class at U. Md. - College Park back in spring 2009 semester -- had humans not been around to interfere with the natural flow of things, the entire Mississippi River would have already naturally diverted (as it does over millennia) its current discharge point from the "Bird's Foot" Delta into the Atchafalaya.

Satellite view of Head of Passes and the Bird's Foot Delta, Mouth of the mighty Mississippi River.

The professor (Lewis Link, I think) was one of the lead authors of the post - Katrina USACE report on the hurricane protection levee system of New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana and what went wrong.

That report 2006 report is entitled Performance Evaluation of the New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Protection System.

The full report is here but my browser freaks out about security certifications being out of date and so I haven't actually tried to go the entire way to the site. However, The New York Time has an easier link to a draft summary report here.

This picture I found online and already posted in an earlier entry showing Memphis's Pyramid Arena and cresting Mississippi on May 9, 2011 has attracted a number of hits.

So has this one:

A young man climbs atop a levee wall in Cairo ("Kay-ROW"), Illinois, to peer at the flood waters. This was actually taken last month (April 2011). There is a certain Mark Twain quality to it.


2. (This is something I once heard but cannot source:) The reason there was no massive flooding on the lower Mississippi during what is known (among other names) as the Great Flood of 1993 when the middle Mississippi and Missouri Rivers experienced 100 to 500 year floods is because for as large as they were, that extra volume of water was still small compared to the volume of water that the Ohio River discharges into the Mississippi.

An aerial image of massive flooding along the Missouri River near Cedar City, Mo., July 30, 1993.


Sally Nance tries to save her belongings in her flooded home, Tiptonville, Tenn., May 4, 2011.

The current flooding so far has inundated many poor and rural areas, which come to think of it is not only NOT surprising, but is almost a law a nature, if not human civilization (the poor suffer by far the most in natural disasters).

Jonathan white and Leandra Felton evacuate with some possessions from rising flood waters in Memphis, Tenn., May 7, 2011.

The flood waters crested in Memphis on May 10, 2011 at 47.8 feet, a bit below the 48.7 feet historic crest in 1937.


Now in GOP - Koch Brothers World, where there is only a small brutal corporate-capitalist oligarchical theocracy above an enslaved and ignorant underclass (just smart enough to run the machinery of the system but no more), there would be no Federal, State, or even local help because "the market" dictated the deaths of these people.

And the true-believer Tea Baggers would cheer that -- hell, they'd cheer their own deaths because any attempt to save them would be "Socialist."

Left: The Anatomy of a Tea Bagger. (Double) click on the image for a larger version.

And some whack-job libertarian pseudo-economist such as Richard Ebeling would be there -- like some demented Doctor Pangloss ("Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes") -- to tell them that this is PRECISELY why from Chicago School Free Market First Principles the levees broke and they're drowning in a fetid watery mess.

How frickin' stupid.

By the way, here is a funny piece by Salon's Alex Pareene entitled "Five signs your Republican governor wants to be president". Among the reasons are: (1) They start questioning evolution; (2) They start foaming at the mouth against climate change; and (3) They start wanting to bomb random countries.


OK, that's all for now. Except for this Olivia Newton-John song that for some reason on this overcast, cool, misty-showery Saturday morning is stuck in my head ...



It is 1015AM and I'm going to go back to bed for a few hours.


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