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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Posts Tagged ‘the storm’

When Ivor Talks, We Listen (Hear That, LSU?)

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Ivor’s Greatest Hits
Selections from Levees Not War’s Interview with Ivor van Heerden

The following excerpts are highlights from our interview with Dr. van Heerden just before his book THE STORM was published in 2006. The interview can be read in full here.

I think what Hurricanes Rita and Katrina taught us
. . . is that the old system of doing business, however you look at it—whether it was building levees or whether it was restoring coastal wetlands—the old system didn’t work, and unfortunately we don’t see anything new right now. The Senate said we need a new version of FEMA, but nobody’s saying we need a new version of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is to my mind what we do need.

The problem with the New Orleans levees
was that they were never a high priority for the Corps’ New Orleans district. Their high priorities were navigation and dredging. And they never really seemed to have a long-term strategy of how they were going to get it done; the project kept slipping, the costs kept going up . . .


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.)


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

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.