Several lawsuits has been filed in Katrina’s aftermath. In this post I’ll cover one against the feds specifically the Army Corps of Engineers in which over 750 plaintiffs are seeking $1 billion in damages resulting from the Corps failure in “designing, constructing and monitoring MRGO and other New Orleans waterways, including the Industrial Canal, the 17th Street Canal and the London Avenue Canal, resulting in flooding, death and massive destruction following the hurricane Aug. 29, 2005.”
Overtopping, scouring and levee collapse in the MRGO caused extensive damage in St. Bernard Parish. Breaks in the Industrial Canal caused flooding in the Ninth Ward and Lower Ninth Ward and in the city proper. It took more than one month to repair the levee breaks and pump the water out of the city.
At least two independent investigations into the levee breaks have indicated poor engineering and design flaws as well as faulty construction and a lack of adequate surveillance and maintenance led to the disaster.
The lawsuit cites April 16 testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee from a top Army Corps official.
“We have now concluded we had problems with the design of the structure”, referring to the 17th Street Canal,” said Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers. “We had hoped that wasn’t the case but we recognize it is the reality.”
When I was in New Orleans I found that MRGO was very unpopular. My impression was that people would be happy to see MRGO become MR. GO Away. The Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet, a.k.a. the MRGO (pronounced Mr. Go) , is longer and wider than the Panama Canal. It is a shortcut from the Gulf of Mexico to the port of New Orleans so ships can avoid all the twists of the MS river. But the Panama Canal makes money. Not MRGO. It costs $13 million just to dredge it and less than 1 ship per day on average traveled through it. So YOU are paying about $12,000 per vessel per trip to save shippers some money.
(story continues with pics …click Read More)
It also opened the area to salt water from the Gulf which “killed more than 11,000 acres of cypress swamps and turned over 19,000 acres of brackish marsh into saline marsh.” This was wetland that provided a natural protective barrier to hurricanes. MRGO is basically a federal boondoggle that benefit’s the shipping industry and has hurt the NOLA area in numerous ways especially as a conduit to hurricane storm surge.
I wish the plaintiffs well. I only wish they could sue Mr. Bush personally.
UPDATE: Based on a comment below let me make clear I am not saying MRGO was THE problem in NOLA flodoing but it was ONE of the problems. To get a sense of a levee break here are some photos from my time in NOLA in March. Here is one of the breaks at the London Ave. Canal. That is the break and the empty space you see…
That empty space is where this house once was. It was pushed down the street and was sitting right in an intersection. This is what was left of it…
Here is the view just to the right of that empty space created by the levee break….
Here is a break by the 17th St Canal levee….
Here is the what is left of the house just across the street from that levee break……
And here is what it looks like a few blocks away…
And Many, Many blocks away on Canal Blvd….