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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘lsu hurricane center’

LSU Fires van Heerden of LSU Hurricane Center; Director Marc Levitan Resigns in Solidarity

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Photo of Ivor van Heerden by The New York Times.

Photo of Ivor van Heerden by The New York Times.

This is definitely one for the Fresh Hell file: Just before the Easter weekend LSU notified Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, that it would not renew his contract (he is not tenured) and he will be out of a job by May 2010. The university is not saying why—not to him, and not to the public. The firing comes after the university has imposed limits on his contacts with the media, demoted him, and retracted storm surge modeling responsibilities from his direction, among other limitations. Ubiquitous on CNN and in print after Hurricane Katrina—he is reported to have Anderson Cooper’s cell phone number—van Heerden is well known as a critic of the Army Corps of Engineers’ design of levees and the nation’s general unpreparedness for catastrophic hurricane flooding. He is also the author of the impressive and constructively critical book The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina—The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist (2006). (See Levees Not War’s interview with van Heerden here.)

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Interview with Ivor van Heerden, author of ‘The Storm:
What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina:
The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist’

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

Ivor van Heerden and Mike Bryan

Viking, 2006 • $25.95
paperback $15.00
www.thestorm-katrina.com

IVOR VAN HEERDEN of the LSU Hurricane Center is familiar to millions who watched the Katrina news reports as the straight-talking hurricane expert with a Dutch accent (actually he’s South African). In The Storm, he has written a detailed, analytical, and compelling account of Hurricane Katrina and its terrible impact on Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. He shows what happened-and what didn’t have to happen.

What sets The Storm apart from other Katrina books is that van Heerden, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, goes on to propose a workable and affordable plan for Category 5 strength storm protection, modeled on the Netherlands’ successful system: a combination of reinforced levees, storm gates, and coastal restoration, including barrier islands.

On the publication of The Storm, we asked Dr. van Heerden to elaborate on some of his principal concerns about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers’ repair of the levees around New Orleans, and his hopes for political solutions to Louisiana’s environmental predicament.

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