Let’s Review…

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.

6 thoughts on “Let’s Review…

  1. Scout, thank you again. There was the storm, Katrina, and then there was the flood, due to faulty levees. That absolutely cannot be said too many times. The Feds owe New Orleans – as Cheney would say – big time.
    The time is now. I hope the Democratic Congress remembers that come January.

  2. Keep saying it.
    Last week I spoke to a former New Orleans resident who now lives in Las Vegas. In spite of following the story closely and having lived within a couple of blocks of the 17th Street Canal breach she was unaware that the levees protecting Lakeview and the core of New Orleans failed, not due to the strength of the storm but the weakness of the levees. The levees should have held against a storm like Katrina, they were supposed to have been designed to withstand that kind of condition. That they didn’t is the failure of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and no one else.
    As a New Orleans resident, if you want to help the most important thing you can do is get you own Senators and Representatives to visit.
    No one can appreciate the situation unless they actually see it.

  3. While, admittedly, I know that the government isn’t liable to the same law as the rest of us…
    I’m trying to think about how product liability law would play out had a private company had put out a product which everyone relied on and thought to be safe but then had a catastrophic failure which leveled a city.

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