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July 10, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Katrina Levee Exhibition and Garden to be unveiled Saturday in Filmore Gardens

Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com | The Times-PicayuneBy Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
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on July 10, 2015 at 4:58 PM, updated July 10, 2015 at 5:38 PM
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An empty lot adjacent to a London Avenue Canalfloodwall that failed during Hurricane Katrina will be unveiled Saturday (July 11) as an outside museum and rain garden aimed at explaining how New Orleans flooded during the storm.

Sponsored by Levees.orgGrowing Green and theFilmore Gardens Neighborhood Association, the Levee Exhibition and Garden at 5000 Warrington Dr. in New Orleans includes six museum-quality panels that detail the history behind the failure of segments of the New Orleans levee system during Katrina, said Sandy Rosenthal, founding director of Levees.org.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday. More information about the museum and garden will be posted at Levees.org web site at that time.

Rosenthal and her organization have led a national campaign since soon after the storm to insure that accurate information is available to the public explaining that the levee and floodwall failures that resulted in the city flooding were part of a man-made disaster, rather than the natural effects of a hurricane.

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the design and construction of the hurricane levee system, eventually admitted in 2006 that poor design, improper construction materials and other construction decisions by the corps and its contractors were behind most of the breaches in the system.

But Rosenthal and her group have led a campaign to correct misstatements nationwide about cause of flooding, often demanding corrections from newspapers and other media that refer to the city's flooding as a "natural disaster."

"I won't be able to stand out on a soap box forever," Rosenthal said. "These six exhibit boards will be able to tell the story, even if I'm run over by a Mack truck tomorrow.

Rosenthal said the information on the boards has been peer-reviewed for accuracy by four independent reviewers for Water Policy, the official journal of the World Water Council; by Ivor Van Heerden, former director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center; and by Stephen Nelson, a geology professor at Tulane University.

A research paper including information used for the exhibit is being published in August in Water Policy.

The panels also include 40 photos, as well as locator maps designed by Tulane University geography professor Richard Campanella.

The panels are aimed at responding to the most popular myths surrounding flooding during Katrina.

Included are the accurate reasons behind the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to abandon plans to build gates across the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes to block storm surge from entering Lake Pontchartrain.

While a federal judge did order the corps to halt work on the project, that order specified that the corps was only required to look at other alternatives, and that its decision to build the gates might be acceptable.

The corps, however, did not return to the court with a more comprehensive plan. In 1980, it instead concluded that higher levees to block storm surge would be less costly, less damaging to the environment and more acceptable to local interests.

Other panels review the history of inspections by local levee district employees of levees and floodwalls before Katrina, and how 34 people died at St. Rita's Nursing Home in St. Bernard Parish.

The London Avenue Canal floodwall failed when surge water pushed through organic soil on the canal bottom and entered a layer of sand, the remains of an ancient course of the Mississippi River.The water in the canal never rose high enough to overtop of the wall.

The water flowed through the sand beneath the floodwall in a process called "pipelining" that left the wall unstable, and it eventually collapsed, allowing water to flow into the Filmore Gardens neighborhood.

Investigators eventually concluded that the I-shaped wall should have been built as a much stronger T-wall, using longer sheet pilings to block water flow beneath it and much longer, diagonal batter piles to keep the wall from falling if it were undermined.

"I'm hoping these exhibits will help the people of New Orleans throw off the cloak of shame" caused by those outside the area questioning why they live in an unsafe city, Rosenthal said. "When enough people tell you something, you tend to believe it. But this exhibit is part of our efforts to get people to don a mantle of pride."

Rosenthal said the idea for the exhibit began a year ago when Gloria Decuir Robert, president of the Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association called her to point out that the city owned the empty lot and was offering to rent it for $250 a year as part of the Growing Green program.

"Two days later, I hand delivered the application to the Growing Green organization," she said.

"Through the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority's Land Stewardship program we have been proud to develop creative projects for alternative land use,"‎ said Jeff Hebert, NORA's executive director. "But this is possibly the most important use of land left vacant after Katrina, honoring lives lost, property damaged, and the resilience of people that drives our city's recovery."

The rain garden accompanying the exhibit is designed by Master Gardener Calla Victoria, who used native plants. The garden will be maintained by the Master Gardener program. The garden is designed to manage stormwater on the site and to reduce runoff into the city's drainage system.

Parkway Partners also has assisted with the project.

Rosenthal said that before construction of the exhibit began, the city of New Orleans carted away 19 dumpsters of debris that had remained on the lot in the aftermath of the flood.

Under the terms of its agreement to use the land, Levees.org is paying rent of $250 a year, and if the garden and exhibition pass muster, after two years, it may be allowed to buy the property from NORA.

 

July 11, 2015

July 11, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sandy Rosenthal could barely believe it when a resident of the Filmore Gardens neighborhood called to tell her that a vacant lot at the exact site of the London Avenue canal eastbank levee breach was available for leasing.

“I never would have known about it if it weren’t for the relationships that have been built since the storm,” said the founder and director of Levees.org, the nonprofit committed to ensuring that the nation understands the engineering failures that caused New Orleans to flood. “We weren’t sure how to proceed at first, but then we developed a plan.”

The plan, in the process of being enacted, is to build an open-air exhibit that includes a 90-foot-long pavilion lined with educational panels explaining the many sources of floodwaters that filled the city 10 years ago.

Rosenthal ticks them off: “The London Avenue canal, the Orleans canal, the 17th Street canal, the Industrial Canal, MR-GO and the levee failures in New Orleans East. There was not just one reason — there were so many.”

Accompanying the pavilion is a rain garden, a key component designed for beauty but also to remind residents of the urgent need to manage storm water.

“The rain garden will hold water and use it to nurture the plants that will be installed, rather than sending it directly to the city’s drainage system,” Rosenthal said. She embraces contemporary thinking that water retention is desirable for relieving stress on the city’s aging drainage infrastructure as well as for replenishing the area’s sinking water table.

The lot at 5000 Warrington Drive that Levees.org has leased was made available to the group via “Growing Green,” an initiative of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. The program aims to encourage the public “to engage in general greening and urban agriculture projects” which meet the objectives of improving neighborhood stability, fostering neighborhood safety and sustainability, promoting a general sense of community, and/or making fresh produce available. The leases cost just $250 per year.

“We started raising funds a year ago and have been able to do it all with private donations,” Rosenthal said. “I think people see it as a fitting way to memorialize the event and — painful though it is — preserve its history.”

Architects Scott and Carrie Bernhard, of the Lime Agency for Sustainable Hot/Humid Design, devised the plan for the pavilion, and Master Gardener Calla Victoria designed the rain garden. The six educational panels were developed and produced by Carol Pequot of D and C Enterprises.

Levees.org has invited the public to put some sweat equity into the exhibit and garden by wielding shovels and pitchforks on two Saturdays in June.

“Saturday (today, June 20) we need volunteers to help us prepare the soil in the rain garden for planting, and also to grade it, then next Saturday (June 27), we need volunteers to install the plants that Calla has selected for the garden,” Rosenthal said.

The selections include many familiar plants such as Louisiana irises, swamp milkweed, blue rush and lizard’s tail. Some plants have been purchased, but others were donated to the cause by outfits including Home Depot, American Aquatic Gardens, Gomez Pine Straw and Sunny Sod. Rosarian Peggy Martin plans to donate a Peggy Martin rose — a survivor of the St. Bernard Parish flood — to serve as a focal point.

A subtle but important element of the garden is its courtyard, paved in yellow brick.

“Remember the image of the house that was swept off its foundation, turned around 180 degrees, then deposited in the middle of the street? Well, this is the lot where it was located and the courtyard outlines the footprint of where it stood,” she said. “The house was yellow brick, so that’s why we used it in the courtyard. And while we were excavating, we found three bricks from the house and are incorporating them.”

Rosenthal advises volunteers to bring work gloves, tools and a folding chair. A ribbon cutting will be scheduled in the next few weeks.

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Exhibit marks Hurricane Katrina London Avenue Canal failures

Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-PicayuneBy Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
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on July 11, 2015 at 12:19 PM, updated July 11, 2015 at 9:59 PM
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An outdoor exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of the flooding caused by failures of the London Avenue Canal opened Saturday morning (July 11) near 5000 Warrington Drive in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.

Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org, a post-Katrina organization devoted to disseminating information about the levee failures, led the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Explaining the need for the exhibit, she said that visitors arriving at Armstrong International Airport crave a location to acquaint themselves with the tragedies of 2005. The London Avenue Canal Exhibit and Garden will provide a destination. In her remarks, Rosenthal emphasized her position that the flooding was caused by engineering flaws, not natural disaster.

The exhibit, positioned at the site of the east breach of the canal, is composed of large informational panels, which include photographs of the 2005 flood that inundated the surrounding area. The panels are shaded somewhat by a long wooden framework that stretches 100 feet, leading visitors from the street toward the levee.

H.J. Bosworth Jr., who designed the display structure, pointed out that the brick and concrete footprint of the exhibit is poignantly modeled on the house that once stood on the site. Yellow bricks found after the demolition were incorporated into the foundation, Bosworth said.  

A native plant garden beside the structure is meant to illustrate a natural method of managing rainwater runoff, thereby reducing pressure on the city's drainage system. Most compellingly, three ruined houses, forlorn relics of the canal breach, stand within sight of the display.

Calla Victoria, who designed the garden that stands beside the informational display, explained that some of the plants were selected for symbolic reasons. Sprouting here and there were "Katrina Lilies," a variety that had been under development when the storm and flood struck. The garden also is home to a cutting from the only rose variety to have survived the flooding at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park.

Gloria DeCuir-Robert, president of the Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association, began her comments with a brief prayer of thanks for the beautiful sunny day upon which to celebrate the new exhibit. As the ceremony concluded, the sounds of a brass band could be heard over the buzz of congratulations, and the purple feathers of a band of Mardi Gras Indians soon appeared in the distance on Warrington Drive. The small parade made its way through the television cameras to the exhibit site.      

Rosenthal said the project cost a bit more than the original $50,000, not counting the donations of plants and some materials, but she's unsure of the exact figure at this time. The exhibit was paid for by donations to Levees.org. The exhibit and garden is the product of a partnership of organizations including Levees.org, the Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, the Growing Green program, and Parkway Partners.

http://ww.nola.com/arts/index.ssf/2015/07/hurricane_katrina_anniversary_1.html

Ei

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New levee garden and exhibit mark site of levee
breach

Sandy Rosenthal could barely believe it when a resident of the Filmore Gardens neighborhood called to tell her that a vacant lot at the exact site of the London Avenue canal eastbank levee breach was available for leasing.

“I never would have known about it if it weren’t for the relationships that have been built since the storm,” said the founder and director of Levees.org, the nonprofit committed to ensuring that the nation understands the engineering failures that caused New Orleans to flood. “We weren’t sure how to proceed at first, but then we developed a plan.”

The plan, in the process of being enacted, is to build an open-air exhibit that includes a 90-foot-long pavilion lined with educational panels explaining the many sources of floodwaters that filled the city 10 years ago.

Rosenthal ticks them off: “The London Avenue canal, the Orleans canal, the 17th Street canal, the Industrial Canal, MR-GO and the levee failures in New Orleans East. There was not just one reason — there were so many.”

Accompanying the pavilion is a rain garden, a key component designed for beauty but also to remind residents of the urgent need to manage storm water.

“The rain garden will hold water and use it to nurture the plants that will be installed, rather than sending it directly to the city’s drainage system,” Rosenthal said. She embraces contemporary thinking that water retention is desirable for relieving stress on the city’s aging drainage infrastructure as well as for replenishing the area’s sinking water table.

The lot at 5000 Warrington Drive that Levees.org has leased was made available to the group via “Growing Green,” an initiative of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. The program aims to encourage the public “to engage in general greening and urban agriculture projects” which meet the objectives of improving neighborhood stability, fostering neighborhood safety and sustainability, promoting a general sense of community, and/or making fresh produce available. The leases cost just $250 per year.

“We started raising funds a year ago and have been able to do it all with private donations,” Rosenthal said. “I think people see it as a fitting way to memorialize the event and — painful though it is — preserve its history.”

Architects Scott and Carrie Bernhard, of the Lime Agency for Sustainable Hot/Humid Design, devised the plan for the pavilion, and Master Gardener Calla Victoria designed the rain garden. The six educational panels were developed and produced by Carol Pequot of D and C Enterprises.

Levees.org has invited the public to put some sweat equity into the exhibit and garden by wielding shovels and pitchforks on two Saturdays in June.

“Saturday (today, June 20) we need volunteers to help us prepare the soil in the rain garden for planting, and also to grade it, then next Saturday (June 27), we need volunteers to install the plants that Calla has selected for the garden,” Rosenthal said.

The selections include many familiar plants such as Louisiana irises, swamp milkweed, blue rush and lizard’s tail. Some plants have been purchased, but others were donated to the cause by outfits including Home Depot, American Aquatic Gardens, Gomez Pine Straw and Sunny Sod. Rosarian Peggy Martin plans to donate a Peggy Martin rose — a survivor of the St. Bernard Parish flood — to serve as a focal point.

A subtle but important element of the garden is its courtyard, paved in yellow brick.

“Remember the image of the house that was swept off its foundation, turned around 180 degrees, then deposited in the middle of the street? Well, this is the lot where it was located and the courtyard outlines the footprint of where it stood,” she said. “The house was yellow brick, so that’s why we used it in the courtyard. And while we were excavating, we found three bricks from the house and are incorporating them.”

Rosenthal advises volunteers to bring work gloves, tools and a folding chair. A ribbon cutting will be scheduled in the next few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-PicayuneBy Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 
Follow on Twitter 
on July 11, 2015 at 12:19 PM, updated July 11, 2015 at 9:59 PM
Reddit

An outdoor exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of the flooding caused by failures of the London Avenue Canal opened Saturday morning (July 11) near 5000 Warrington Drive in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans.

Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org, a post-Katrina organization devoted to disseminating information about the levee failures, led the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Explaining the need for the exhibit, she said that visitors arriving at Armstrong International Airport crave a location to acquaint themselves with the tragedies of 2005. The London Avenue Canal Exhibit and Garden will provide a destination. In her remarks, Rosenthal emphasized her position that the flooding was caused by engineering flaws, not natural disaster.

The exhibit, positioned at the site of the east breach of the canal, is composed of large informational panels, which include photographs of the 2005 flood that inundated the surrounding area. The panels are shaded somewhat by a long wooden framework that stretches 100 feet, leading visitors from the street toward the levee.

H.J. Bosworth Jr., who designed the display structure, pointed out that the brick and concrete footprint of the exhibit is poignantly modeled on the house that once stood on the site. Yellow bricks found after the demolition were incorporated into the foundation, Bosworth said.  

London Avenue Canal Exhibit and GardenVisit the July 11 ribbon cutting ceremony at the London Avenue Canal levee breach exhibit and garden. Video by Doug MacCash

A native plant garden beside the structure is meant to illustrate a natural method of managing rainwater runoff, thereby reducing pressure on the city's drainage system. Most compellingly, three ruined houses, forlorn relics of the canal breach, stand within sight of the display.

Calla Victoria, who designed the garden that stands beside the informational display, explained that some of the plants were selected for symbolic reasons. Sprouting here and there were "Katrina Lilies," a variety that had been under development when the storm and flood struck. The garden also is home to a cutting from the only rose variety to have survived the flooding at the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park.

Gloria DeCuir-Robert, president of the Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association, began her comments with a brief prayer of thanks for the beautiful sunny day upon which to celebrate the new exhibit. As the ceremony concluded, the sounds of a brass band could be heard over the buzz of congratulations, and the purple feathers of a band of Mardi Gras Indians soon appeared in the distance on Warrington Drive. The small parade made its way through the television cameras to the exhibit site.      

Rosenthal said the project cost a bit more than the original $50,000, not counting the donations of plants and some materials, but she's unsure of the exact figure at this time. The exhibit was paid for by donations to Levees.org. The exhibit and garden is the product of a partnership of organizations including Levees.org, the Filmore Gardens Neighborhood Association, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, the Growing Green program, and Parkway Partners.

 

 


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