Harry Shearer’s post the other day brought out comments once again displaying people’s ignorance (willful or otherwise) of the Army Corps of Engineers’ failure in designing the levees of New Orleans. On the one hand given the almost total disregard of that story which broke in April it is somewhat understandable. Katrina was the “top news interest” story of 2005. One would think a federal agency’s admission of their mistake as having been at the root of the misery known as Katrina in New Orleans would have been a huge story. But it wasn’t. Obviously it needs to be said again and again so here it is…
“Corps admits to ‘design failure'”
WASHINGTON — In the closest thing yet to a mea culpa, the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged Wednesday that a “design failure” led to the breach of the 17th Street canal levee that flooded much of the city during Hurricane Katrina.
“We have now concluded we had problems with the design of the structure,” Strock told members of the subcommittee that finances Corps operations. “We had hoped that wasn’t the case, but we recognize it is the reality.”
That was from an April 5th Times Picayune article. It was not until June when the ACE report on the matter came out that these facts were reported by other press and media. (example) However in the intervening time frame the Bush administration made firm its decision to rebuild the levees at about the Category 3 protection level.
That decision has had disasterous consequences for the recovery of New Orleans. How are businesses and residents to be expected to return and rebuild when their saftey is not assured by adequate levee protection?
There are many issues facing New Orleans in its recovery but arguably Category 5 levee protection tops the list. I do not believe New Orleans is “lost” but it has been on the losing end for 459 days. The new Congress must address the rebuilding of the levees as there is a only a finite number of “Friedmans” left in which to reclaim this city. How many? I won’t predict because it is impossible to factor in the incredible patience, resilience and committment that the 200,000 residents of NOLA have put into the hard dirty work of holding on and rebuilding their city.
So once again…to review.
What happened in New Orleans was different.
It was not the storm.
It was the flood.
A federal flood
When you talk of Katrina be sure to mention it…always.