New Orleans Levees Were Blown In 1927 Were They Blown in 2005?
Extracts from Another Flood That Stunned America
For days, the rain fell. The rivers swelled, the lakes rose. And when the water could no longer find a place to go, it battered the weakest parts of the levees that had protected thousands of people and blew through, sending a surge of white-capped brown water faster than the spill of Niagara Falls.
So began the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the most
catastrophic deluge ever to hit the South and one of the worst
natural disasters in U.S. history.
When the rains broke records in April 1927, the Gulf of Mexico
was full and worked as a stopper to the Mississippi. The Mississippi
was full, too, pushing its own waters up tributaries, breaking
levees and causing flooding as far as Ohio and Texas. All that water
had to go somewhere.
To save New Orleans, the leaders proposed a radical plan. South
of the city, the population was mostly rural and poor. The leaders
appealed to the federal government to essentially sacrifice those
parishes by blowing up an earthen levee and diverting the water to
marshland. They promised restitution to people who would lose their
homes. Government officials, including Commerce Secretary Herbert
Hoover, signed off.
|DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: This is the actual levee that runs along
the canal on the eastern side of the city. And when the hurricane
hit, the water came through at such force, it was apparently too
much. You can see the massive breach here, and when you look around
the corner you can see what the water did to the Lower Ninth Ward.
It completely destroyed neighborhoods.
JOE EDWARDS, JR., 9TH WARD RESIDENT: I heard something go BOOM!
MUIR: Joe Edwards rushed to get himself and as many neighbors as possible into his truck. They drove to this bridge, where they've been living ever since
EDWARDS: My house broke in half. My mother's house just disintegrated. It was a brick house. All the houses down there floated down the street like somebody's guiding 'em
|MUIR: Was it solely the water that broke the levee, or was it
the force of this barge that now sits where homes once did? Joe
Edwards says neither. People are so bitter, so disenfranchised in
this neighborhood, they actually think the city did it, blowing up
the levee to save richer neighborhoods like the French Quarter.
MUIR: So you're convinced . . .
EDWARDS: I know this happened!
MUIR: . . . they broke the levee on purpose?
EDWARDS: They blew it!
|MUIR: New Orleans' mayor says there's no credence to this.
NEW ORLEANS MAYOR RAY NAGIN: That storm was so powerful and it pushed so much water, there's no way anyone could have calculated what levee to dynamite to have the kind of impact to save the French Quarter.
MUIR: An LSU expert who looked at the video today says, while the barge may have caused it, it was most likely the sheer force of the water that brought the levee along the Lower Ninth Ward down.