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New Orleans levies
August 28, 2006 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Wizbang sez that the levy in New Orleans that broke during Katrina was going to break even without a hurricane, and that the Corps of Engineers knew it and suppressed evidence of it until just recently.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste (72 comments total)

 
well then.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:03 PM on August 28, 2006


Happy anniversary.
posted by Zozo at 5:03 PM on August 28, 2006


"I'm going to warn you now. If you've only heard the news from the mainstream media, everything you think you know about Katrina flooding New Orleans is wrong."

I'm sorry, it may be a fascinating article, but I couldn't make it past that.
posted by lekvar at 5:10 PM on August 28, 2006


What I will say next will probably completely throw you. Katrina saved probably over 50,000 lives. That levee was doomed. If it had failed without notice, the death toll would have been measured in tens of thousands. There would be no evacuation, no preparation, no Feds at all. (such that they were anyway) no Coast Guard in choppers etc. Tens of thousands of people would have been dead in hours and tens of thousands more would have died on 120 degree rooftops waiting for rescue. It would have been unimaginable. - More unimaginable.

Heck of a job, Katie!
posted by brain_drain at 5:13 PM on August 28, 2006


Stay tuned for Loose Lips, Katrina Edition!
posted by brownpau at 5:13 PM on August 28, 2006


Way to display your ignorance with pride, lekvar. If only all of us were so quick to dismiss things.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:13 PM on August 28, 2006


What Wizbang really sez is that the levy didn't work and no one did anything to fix it, but at least 50,000 hypothetical people didn't die at the expense of 10,000+ real ones. And also, by the way, please don't blame George Bush.

Funny that.
posted by tapeguy at 5:15 PM on August 28, 2006


I do my best. It's nice to see my efforts are recognized.
posted by lekvar at 5:15 PM on August 28, 2006


I've said it for months. Katrina didn't flood New Orleans. She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This guy is a total moron.
posted by bshort at 5:23 PM on August 28, 2006


The walls could have failed on a decent high tide.

Lucky coincidence that it happened during hurrican flooding then.
posted by smackfu at 5:24 PM on August 28, 2006


Wizbang also once called my website a "folie a douchebag." So I've got that going for me.

Seriously, though, what's this guy's point exactly? The levees weren't as strong as believed and therefore George W. Bush didn't play guitar with a Country singer while lots of poor people drowned? If it turned out Hillary Clinton bombed the levees open herself I fail to see how this changes the President's actions.

I'm sure I'll get scoffed for being so "partisan" about that but anyone who bothered to examine Wizbang for more than 30 seconds would realize this is clearly one of the many attempts to somehow spin Bush as having not been a colossal fuckup in New Orleans. Such a shame given the poster's history of having no personal agenda, don't ya know.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:25 PM on August 28, 2006


Actually, I don't have any opinion on this particular subject. But I thought it was interesting and material. And I do think it is "best of the web", in that the web is now making it possible for individuals to fact-check reports like this in a way which really wasn't possible before.

That doesn't mean that this particular conclusion is correct; I don't really know. But it's interesting that it's going on, and that it can be distributed widely without consent or cooperation of the MSM.

Here's another example. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. But this kind of analysis is something completely new, made possible and distributed widely by the web.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:35 PM on August 28, 2006


does Wizbang also have an estimate of the number of people who would have survived Katrina if the National Guard was guarding the nation instead of being sent to the Middle East?
posted by tsarfan at 5:38 PM on August 28, 2006


But this kind of analysis is something completely new,

This kind of analysis has been going on in conspiracy-theory newsletters for decades. There's nothing new about it at all.

fyi.
posted by dersins at 5:38 PM on August 28, 2006


Fuck this. That guy also says that Brit Hume is his favorite journalist. That's all I need to know.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:40 PM on August 28, 2006


Hm, apparently more than one person runs that joke. Point still stands.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:42 PM on August 28, 2006


This here earthquake-sensing rock o'mine has saved millions of lives.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:44 PM on August 28, 2006


Such a shame given the poster's history of having no personal agenda, don't ya know.
posted by XQUZYPHYR


Yeah XQUZYPHYR, down with Steven C. Den Beste. If we can get rid of him all personal agenda will be gone from the front page. Good thinkin' :)
posted by justgary at 5:50 PM on August 28, 2006


MetaFilter: More unimaginable.
posted by owhydididoit at 5:52 PM on August 28, 2006


I'm sure I'll get scoffed for being so "partisan" about that

When the truth happens to agree with partisans, then everyone who loves truth will get called a partisan.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:53 PM on August 28, 2006


Does Wizbang have an estimate of the number of people who would have survived Katrina had the government actually bothered to evacuate people who couldn't afford to leave the place on their own, given that they had a good WEEK of warning for that storm? Before it hit I was bored of the Katrina story, it was in the news for DAYS and DAYS before things got seriously ugly. Another city managed to peaceful evacuation in 1979 without a moment's warning... I'l never entirely understand why they couldn't do better with NOLA.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:53 PM on August 28, 2006


lekvar, I made it a paragraph further but the rhetorical flourish makes me wonder how much further I should slog:

we've learned that the storm was a Category 1 by the time she hit New Orleans

Which is bald faced lie, as Katrina was Category 3 (initially predicted and reported to be 4). What wizbang actually means is that the best measurement we have of winds in New Orleans are Category 1 speeds. Didn't we already know that Katrina didn't hit New Orleans with her entire force? And what storm surge did the city experience, which was always the biggest danger?

The wind speed is an interesting point that I hadn't bothered myself with before. However, the author's presentation alerts me that I shouldn't believe a whit of the article without confirming it in detail.
posted by Llama-Lime at 5:56 PM on August 28, 2006


An entire city, drowned in hyperbole.
posted by furtive at 5:56 PM on August 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, what I just wrote isn't very fair, nor kind. I meant the article, and not the city.
posted by furtive at 5:57 PM on August 28, 2006


I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter from journalist Greg Palast, and his latest entry is of directly related interest. So, if you'll excuse the longish post, I'll reproduce it here:

HURRICANE EXPERT THREATENED FOR PRE-KATRINA WARNINGS


A Greg Palast special investigation for Democracy Now!



Monday, August 28. From New Orleans.

It wasn't the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. The killing was done by a deadly duo: a failed emergency evacuation plan combined with faulty levees. Behind these twin failures lies a tale of cronyism, profiteering and willful incompetence that takes us right to the steps of the White House.

Here's the story you haven't been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it. Van Heerden isn't the typical whistleblower I usually deal with. This is no minor player. He's the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. He's the top banana in the field -- no one knew more about how to save New Orleans from a hurricane's devastation. And no one was a bigger target of an official and corporate campaign to bury the information.

Here's what happened. Right after Katrina swamped the city, I called Washington to get a copy of the evacuation plan. Funny thing about the murderously failed plan for the evacuation of New Orleans: no one can find it. That's right. It's missing. Maybe it got wet and sank in the flood. Whatever: no one can find it.

That's real bad. Here's the key thing about a successful emergency evacuation plan: you have to have copies of it. Lots of copies -- in fire houses and in hospitals and in the hands of every first responder. Secret evacuation plans don't work. I know, I worked on the hurricane evacuation plan for Long Island New York, an elaborate multi-volume dossier.

Specifically, I'm talking about the plan that was written, or supposed to have been written two years ago by a company called, "Innovative Emergency Management." Weird thing about IEM, their founder Madhu Beriwal, had no known experience in hurricane evacuations. She did, however, have a lot of experience in donating to Republicans.

IEM and FEMA did begin a draft of a plan. The plan was that, when a hurricane hit, everyone in the Crescent City would simply get the hell out in their cars. Apparently, the IEM/FEMA crew didn't know that 127,000 people in the city didn't have cars. But Dr. van Heerden knew that. It was his calculation. LSU knew where these no-car people were -- they mapped it -- and how to get them out.Dr. van Heerden offered this life-saving info to FEMA. They wouldn't touch it. Then, a state official told him to shut up, back off or there would be consequences for van Heerden's position. This official now works for IEM.

So I asked him what happened as a result of making no plans for those without wheels, a lot of them elderly and most of them poor. "Fifteen-hundred of them drowned. That's the bottom line." The professor, who'd been talking to me in technicalities, changed to a somber tone. "They're still finding corpses."

Van Heerden is supposed to keep his mouth shut. He won't. The deaths weigh on him. "I wasn't going to listen to those sort of threats, to let them shut me down." Van Heerden had other disturbing news. The Hurricane Center's computer models showed the federal government had built the levees around the city a foot-and-a-half too short. After Katrina, the Hurricane Center analyzed the flooding and found that, had the levees had just that extra 18 inches, they would have been "overtopped" for only an hour and a half, not four hours. In that case, the levees would have held, and the city would have been saved.

He had taken the warning about the levees all the way to George Bush's doorstep. "I myself briefed senior officials including somebody from the White House." The response: the university's trustees threatened his job.

While in Baton Rouge, I dropped in on the headquarters of IEM, the evacuation contractors. The assistant to the CEO insisted they had "a lot of experience with evacuation" -- but couldn't name a single city they'd planned for when they got the Big Easy contract. And still, they couldn't produce the plan.

An IEM press release in June 2004 boasted legendary expert James Lee Witt as a member of their team. That was impressive. It was also a lie. In fact, Witt had nothing to do with it. When I asked IEM point blank if Witt's name was used as a fraudulent hook to get the contract, their spokeswoman said, weirdly, "We'll get back to you on that."

Back at LSU, van Heerden astonished me with the most serious charge of all. While showing me huge maps of the flooding, he told me the White House had withheld the information that, in fact, the levees were about to burst and by Tuesday at dawn the city, and more than a thousand people, would drown. Van Heerden said, "FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o'clock that the levees had breached… They took video. By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew ...I was at the State Emergency Operations Center." Because the hurricane had missed the city that Monday night, evacuation effectively stopped, assuming the city had survived.

It's been a full year now, and 73,000 New Orleanians remain in FEMA trailers and another 200,000, more than half the city's former residents, remain in temporary refuges. "The City That Care Forgot" -- that's their official slogan -- lost a higher percentage of homes than Berlin lost in World War II. It would be more accurate to call it, "The City That Bush Forgot."

Should they come home? Rebuild? Is it safe? Team Bush assures them there's nothing to worry about: FEMA won't respond to van Heerden's revelations. However, the Bush Administration has hired a consulting firm to fix the failed evacuation plan. The contractor? A Baton Rouge company named "Innovative Emergency Management." IEM.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:58 PM on August 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


So the levee sucked before. I don't see how that excuses everyone from blame for not rebuilding in the year since the disaster.
posted by mathowie at 6:03 PM on August 28, 2006


I didn't think the idea was to excuse everyone from blame. As I understood the Wizbang folks, the idea is to take our complaints about Bush et al. to the playhouse division of disney, who presumably built the levee out of cheap colored plastic on a mulch foundation.
posted by Kwine at 6:15 PM on August 28, 2006


It's pretty complicated, Matt. The government (city, state and federal) promised things it has never delivered (I know--we're all shocked SHOCKED that our government lied to us) and we're living in kind of a bifurcated city where half of it looks like Bosnia and half of it looks like bustling Atlanta during Reconstruction.

People WANT to rebuild, but insurance companies are fucking people left and right. They have the luxury of making people wait and wait and wait and wade through red tape and triplicate forms only to turn down their claims and cancel their policies. Without repercussions. Plus, due to the FEMA floodmap crap (which are based on old pre-flood data), building permits are hard to come by and are based mostly on the whim of whichever city inspector you get.

Jobs are scarce and often taken by non-native workers who are undercutting local labor. But it's hard to decry them because they are getting shit done. I'm of two minds about the New Orleans Latin explosion. People often say that jobs are offered to evacuees, but they refuse to take them, which is true, except that you have to factor in that most of them have families that they don't want to leave behind in whatever city they relocated to and they can't bring them with them because the city and it's public systems are still so broken.

It's hard to gauge progress in a land that's so devastated.

I concentrate on the little victories. A new restaurant opens, a new blog pops up, college students from all over the country (and, in fact, the world) coming down and lending a hand. These are all good things for us. These are the things that are helping us crawl instead of writhing in place. It'd be nice to make it to a limp, though.
posted by ColdChef at 6:21 PM on August 28, 2006


The levees didn't breach in just the one spot. While this graphic from the Times-Picayune is innacurate because it lists overtopping and a now (anecdotaly) refuted timeframe - it still shows the levee failures were systemic.

Residents along the 17th Street canal reported for months (google cache) before the storm that the levee was leaking but the reports were lost in the fog of red-tape that was responsible for maintaining the system.

There's plenty of blame to go around.
posted by djeo at 6:22 PM on August 28, 2006


I don't see how that excuses everyone from blame for not rebuilding in the year since the disaster.

Because the point is to perpetuate the talking point that New Orleans was destined to be destroyed, be it the levees or being below sea level or any other excuse being floated this week. This is entirely about removing the obligation on Bush to do his (miserable failure of a) job and fix the mess by convincing people that it was their own fault for living there.

In the minds of the right-wing blogosphere, if there's nothing Bush could have done, it excuses Bush for having done nothing.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:22 PM on August 28, 2006


If it had failed without warning...

This strikes me as a completely ludicrous presupposition.

It requires that the levee fail with absolutely no detectable or noticeable physical signs which appear more than 48 hrs. before the failure, and people lived, worked and played within a few feet of the levees that failed. This means no leaking, no bulging, no groaning or flexing of supporting members. In other words, it requires virtually repealing laws of nature, but then almost all the actions of the Bush regime depend for their justification on something like that, don't they?

The purpose of Wizbang here is to find a way of excusing Bush, no matter how silly or strained it might be.

Heck of a job Wizzy!
posted by jamjam at 6:25 PM on August 28, 2006


Also, Dr. Ivor van Heerden is the fucking man. And he wrote a hell of a book, which will probably eventually get him fired.
posted by ColdChef at 6:25 PM on August 28, 2006


The IEM connection would appear to be one well worth pursuing. It sounds like outright theft of public funds.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on August 28, 2006


Did you mean to link this book, CC?
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 6:40 PM on August 28, 2006


ColdChef--did you mean to link to this? (Your link goes to Douglas Brinkley's book, which also looks good.)
posted by Kat Allison at 6:40 PM on August 28, 2006


Oops, that's the one. (Haven't read the Brinkley book, but I've heard good things).
posted by ColdChef at 6:43 PM on August 28, 2006


JUAN GONZALEZ: Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard speaking yesterday on NBC's "Meet The Press." Following an interview, host Tim Russert did with Director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Chertoff had defended the response to Hurricane Katrina by federal authorities, shifting the blame to local governments. Host Tim Russert asked Broussard whether local officials had more responsibility to bear for last week's horrific shortcomings. Broussard continues.
1. AARON BROUSSARD: Three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA--we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday--yesterday--FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America--American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis. But I want to thank Governor Blanco for all she's done and all her leadership. She sent in the National Guard. I just repaired a breach on my side of the 17th Street canal that the secretary didn't foresee, a 300-foot breach. I just completed it yesterday with convoys of National Guard and local parish workers and levee board people. It took us two and a half days working 24/7. I just closed it.
TIM RUSSERT: All right.



.
posted by Huplescat at 6:45 PM on August 28, 2006


Look...I'ma have to go with MeFi Numero Uno and say that...

What happened was awful. Certainly, why it happened has become a place for Brit Hume, Lou Dobbs, and the like to play.

What happened was a great tale of poor urban disaster planning. It happened on a local, state, and federal level. People actually DIED because of this lack of planning. This fact certainly deserves the scrutiny of our community and of people in general. It was bad, and it looked bad. It was poorly handled, and it looked poorly handled.

Hoever, I've always counted on the fact that we could recover...RECOVER...from a disaster such as this. Our inability thus far to do this is the underscore to the failure at again the local, state, and especially federal levels to facilitate recovery. Or, perhaps it is our lack of willingness to return to what this crazy city once was, or our willingness to spend on its debauchery and vice, or its minority population, etc, etc, etc...

It's a failing of government on numerous levels. Anyone who can't see that should pray that their city/town is more able to deal with being struck with a disaster than NO was. What's important is that now it's almost September 2006 and we STILL don't know how to fix New Orleans, we don't know how to fix the structural ills, the mental ills, the socio-economic ills.

Maybe what we want New Orleans to be is a Disney of conventions, tourists, and expensive office space and condos. The difficulty is whether N.O. is anything without the immense history it has in music, diversity, and dissention.

Sometimes, Paradise cannot be manufactured. Sometimes, it takes some moral compromise. Sometimes, it takes the diversity and acceptance and melding of the past, present, and future.

I've only been to the city once, but I've never found anyplace quite as accepting of whatever as NOLA, and it breaks my heart that most of the people, the artists, the musicians, and the general characters who made it this way are disaffected almost one year later.
posted by rollbiz at 6:49 PM on August 28, 2006


From The New Yorker:
The Lost Year: Behind the failure to rebuild.
posted by ColdChef at 6:59 PM on August 28, 2006


Also: The New Yorker Katrina Archive.
posted by ColdChef at 7:00 PM on August 28, 2006


I found this article, recently published in the Times-Pic, to be well-balanced. Put that together with the interactive flash show on the number and spread of levee failures, and your picture of the disaster will be much clearer.

If there's anything I'd like to emphasize from Wizbang - and I find their analysis of the levee's strength shaky, to say the least - it's when they helped publicize the Corps' admittance of failure with respect to the levees. They're right - this story was not publicized enough. (I'm pretty sure I saw coverage of that on MeFi, too.)

In vaguely related news, I plan on celebrating the one-year anniversary of Katrina by getting alsolutely trashed and drunk-dialing all my old friends, who will be doing the same, I'm certain. I (stupidly - very stupidly) didn't ask for any money from FEMA, and I smack myself every day for skipping out on that free cash. I'm gonna ask any MeFites in the Oklahoma City area to help me right this wrong by buying me drinks.
posted by suckerpunch at 7:30 PM on August 28, 2006


Anyone know if this would qualify as murder 2 or just negligent homicide (and what would the penalty be for 1500 or so counts)?

fuckers--all of 'em
posted by MikeKD at 7:39 PM on August 28, 2006


I dislike Bush as much as anyone, but I didn't really get a huge amount of partisan insanity out of the post. Yeah, the first paragraph was kind of annoying with the Disney link. I got over it.

He's claiming that the levee sucked. The Corps does agree. It doesn't seem implausible to me in the least, and I am quite sure it demonstrates once again the bad planning and the bad organization of yet another department of the U.S. federal government.

"FEMA knew on Monday at 11 o'clock that the levees had breached… They took video. By midnight on Monday the White House knew. But none of us knew ...I was at the State Emergency Operations Center."

And that's what it keeps coming down to. No one can communicate.
posted by blacklite at 7:43 PM on August 28, 2006


No one can communicate, or no one wants to communicate because it could be damaging politically?

The lack of planning, the lack of rebuilding, and the utter failure of George W. Bush to stand up and exert some kind of control of the situation all point to a deep lack of leadership and general malaise in the country. Failure after failure, and people still keep finding reasons to support Bush. What is the driving force? A lot of it seems to be fear of terrorism. So I guess that really does work.
posted by cell divide at 7:51 PM on August 28, 2006


The levees very well may have been made of sand, but to say this was an "average storm" is disingenuous. It literally blew the Mississippi gulf coast off the map. Houses that were still standing from the Civil War one year ago now remain only in photographs and grim histories.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:04 PM on August 28, 2006


One year ago, after I spent a few days shaking and freaking out and crying for a city I lived in and making sure that my mom got out okay and sorting out where she was going to stay and so on, I said, no way is that city going to be rebuilt and no way is anyone involved in emergency response at the federal level going to have to account for this, I hate it when my cynicism is justified, hate it. Please remember to vote this November, Diebold willing.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:57 PM on August 28, 2006


I totally nailed Bush and Ray Nagin on that intellectual site. They closed their messageboards. Bush is not a "good prezidemt" nor is he "bad to bad guys" and "good to all the good guys and pets" so fuck you poohbear52!
posted by Smedleyman at 8:57 PM on August 28, 2006


What's with this "Unimaginable" stuff? I very distinctly remember imagining this exact situation when all the pundits were rambling on about hurricane Ivan could potentially totally destroy New Orleans if it hit, a year before Katrina.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 PM on August 28, 2006


Why, George W. Bush is our saviour after all!
posted by telstar at 9:15 PM on August 28, 2006


People WANT to rebuild

Why? This goes way beyond a failure at the city level or the state level or the current administration. If we don't fundamentally reassess how we deal with things like the Mississippi River these disasters are going to happen over and over again. You can build all the levees you want but it's only a very temporary fix, at best, to the problem of haivng built a city in a freaking dip in a floodplain and removing the sediment source that wa your only protection. And no engineer will tell you otherwise.

btw adding 18" to an eningeered levee is not as easy as it sounds, you need an exponential increase in width at the base. So taking out houses, pretty much.
posted by fshgrl at 9:29 PM on August 28, 2006


Oops: Impostor scams Louisiana officials

"Fortunately, the law protects freedom of speech," he said. "What we're doing is not actually lying. It's actually exposing the lies. There's nothing morally wrong with what we're doing."
posted by Balisong at 10:11 PM on August 28, 2006


Wait, this gets a front page post instead of Spike Lee's absolutely essential HBO documentary When the Levees Broke? I just finished watching and it'll be a few hour before I settle down enough to sleep.
posted by muckster at 11:16 PM on August 28, 2006


I still want to know why the hell no one pushed a barge of supplies, like water and food for example, down the frickin' Mississippi right up to the riverfront? Maybe Tuesday, at the latest?

Can anyone tell me why the hell that didn't happen?
posted by dglynn at 12:01 AM on August 29, 2006


What I will say next will probably completely throw you. Katrina saved probably over 50,000 lives. That levee was doomed. If it had failed without notice, the death toll would have been measured in tens of thousands.

For that to happen, it would take a catastrophic failure. Like most of the levees on the Ponchatrain side going at once. And that's just not going to happen.

What you'd probably see is, well, what you saw a year ago today -- sections of the levees failing, the water opening the holes wider, people dying in the panic, the pumps unable to do anything but send the water right back into the canal and back into the city. 1000 dead? 2000? Perhaps. 50,000? No way. That's a 10% kill rate -- Hurricane Mitch levels.

The levees very well may have been made of sand, but to say this was an "average storm" is disingenuous. It literally blew the Mississippi gulf coast off the map. Houses that were still standing from the Civil War one year ago now remain only in photographs and grim histories.

The people who say that this was "only" a Cat. 1-2-3 in New Orleans don't understand that Katrina was a Cat. 5 24 hours before it hit shore before dropping into an eyewall replacement cycle. Eyewall replacement cycles widen the hurricane wind field significantly, and it's the winds that create the surge. So, while it was a Cat. 3-4 when it hit shore, the hurricane wind field extended from NOLA to Mobile, with the most severe winds being in Mississippi. The damage levels in Mississippi were similar to Camille, only across a much wider area.

And the damage went deep into Mississippi. If Haley Barbour were a Democrat, you'd have heard a lot more about how bad Hattiesburg -- 70 miles inland -- was devastated.
posted by dw at 12:22 AM on August 29, 2006


Can anyone tell me why the hell that didn't happen?

George Bush doesn't care about black people Democratic voters?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:34 AM on August 29, 2006


This is the very definition of smoke and mirrors, an article based on pure speculation making claims of what might have happened in order to draw attention away from what really did happen.

Katrina saved no lives. New Orleans was swamped, and the people elected to office and / or paid via our taxes to handle this thing in a competent manner failed. Failed abjectly and absolutely.

That is the reality, and no amount of alternate history fiction will change that fact.
posted by moonbiter at 1:52 AM on August 29, 2006


>That is the reality, and no amount of alternate history fiction will change that fact.

I think you overestimate the power of reality. A fantasy butressed by blog entries in reverse chronological order, with elliptical sentences and grainy video, can be so much more compelling.
posted by gsb at 4:02 AM on August 29, 2006


That is the reality, and no amount of alternate history fiction will change that fact.

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
posted by EarBucket at 4:31 AM on August 29, 2006


ColdChef writes "People WANT to rebuild, but insurance companies are fucking people left and right. They have the luxury of making people wait and wait and wait and wade through red tape and triplicate forms only to turn down their claims and cancel their policies. Without repercussions."

Obvious strategy is to wear down the opponent hoping to save money by not paying ; absent the government or any other do-or-die institution there is no incentive not to fuck with the client, thus showing what really is far-west market and its invisible fisting hand ; but of course so as long as nobody with a lot of power gets his ass kicked and interest touched, nobody is likely to do much.

I think people don't WANT to rebuild there, except the emotively attached individuals. I think they are being forced by circumstances like 1.they already own the surface 2.because the cost of land was low 3. because surprise surprise as far as I know it is a flood region.

I call this desperation and need, not desire to. Even rebuilding very better dams is still betting against immense inexaustible forces and , unlike Netherlands, US has plenty of unused land to spare

ColdChef writes "Jobs are scarce and often taken by non-native workers who are undercutting local labor. But it's hard to decry them because they are getting shit done. I'm of two minds about the New Orleans Latin explosion. People often say that jobs are offered to evacuees, but they refuse to take them, which is true, except that you have to factor in that most of them have families that they don't want to leave behind in whatever city they relocated to and they can't bring them with them because the city and it's public systems are still so broken."

Obviously the latin or whatever fucking ethnical labeling babbleshit that is more desperate then the others will get the job . How it gets done remains to be seen.

Some critics could say that NO people are bunch of fucking sissies because, unlike the next ethnical label, they don't want to leave behind their affections (and who fucking blames them) or don't like the conditions of rebuilding . Obviously such critics are the first that are either 1.idiots babbling 2.are not forced to do it, so it easy for them to speak 3. are probably just sociopaths.

Yet there is an hint of truth in the weak sissies pseudoargument, obviously not limited to NO people , but to all communities who disband at the first serious difficulty, don't plan for the future and just hope a private tycoon or the government will just do everything for them ; the truth being that such communities suck.

Obviously sometime (most of times) they are misled and promised and are financially destroyed and very underpaid and solicited to spend every dime in bullshit ; no wonder they just can't handle the immense task of rebuilding a city while preventing more damage and improving it. Consider for instance the people of Norway who, as far as I know, have build a very large national retirement fund by setting aside some of the oil profits ; now it may not be the wisest action and there is probably a bunch of vultures looking to leech that fund or do worse , yet it shows a cohesion and mindset of 1. preventing for the future 2. be united in facing problems and not waste money, insure a solid bottom line provision of goods 3. go above and beyond the illusory dream of Market Uber Alles or Daddy Government

An entire new level of maturity and mindset seems to be much needed.
posted by elpapacito at 5:36 AM on August 29, 2006


Regarding flapjax at midnight's Greg Palast post:

Innovative Emergencies Management, Inc.
DUNS: 6012752820000

Contracts and value: GSHSFE0606P7912 ($475k), HSFE0606P6102 ($250k), HSFE0606P8089 ($35k).

Funny thing about those contracts - all signed after 10/2005.
posted by rzklkng at 6:01 AM on August 29, 2006


Last night, I digg'd, del.icio.us'd, and was going to post on this.

Then I changed my mind. Classic case of failing to consider the source.

Story like this breaks, the day of the anniversary, scapegoating the Army Corps of Engineers, which I heard a couple of Congresscritters ape on the newsies yesterday, and the right blogosphere runs out trumpeting this one?

The only thing he failed to do was ABC - Always Blame Clinton (either one) for the Army Corps and the failed levies. But I'm sure that's coming. In either case, this is yet another thing that Bush is not responsible for.
posted by rzklkng at 6:14 AM on August 29, 2006


Can't wait for Wizbang's explosive report on the faked NASA moon landing footage he'll go to the grave believing in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:17 AM on August 29, 2006


The only thing he failed to do was ABC - Always Blame Clinton

Well, Clinton could have chosen to reinforce the levees with the body of Vince Foster -- and he chose not to.
posted by scody at 8:40 AM on August 29, 2006


meh, cynical, unsupported op-eds are the suck. Remember when we used to discourage them?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 10:49 AM on August 29, 2006


Every hurricane season as a child I remember hearing people talking about fearing that exactly what happened during Katrina was going to happen that year to those same levees. I specifically remember hearing it at age 9 when Camile was headed our way in 1969.

This wasn't a new problem. That doesn't excuse Bush but it also doesn't excuse many prior federal administrations.
posted by Carbolic at 3:33 PM on August 29, 2006


A counterpoint to Greg Palast. I am in New Orleans proper right now. I was living in the city before Katrina and moved back to town after Christmas.

I didn't know anything about Whizbang's politics, and only briefly scanned the article. Regardless of whether or not he is trying to excuse Bush's response, he makes a valid point that this was more manmade disaster than natural disaster. The reality of the situation is that the levee failure was the culmination of decades of bad decisions (as explained in the article linked by suckerpunch) with plenty of blame to go around for local and federal governments.

In short, I think local and federal governments equally share in responsibility for creating the situation that led to the disaster (i.e., local politics/patronage and Army Corps of Engineers incompetence). As far as the Katrina response goes, the federal government is primarily responsible for that fuck-up. For those that are quick to blame local and state governments for the response, I recommend that you read this book.

And as far as recovery goes, I think the local, state, and federal governments are all equally responsible for complicating matters. Despite the fact that the recovery planning efforts have stalled (primarily in part to the local election), we have made a tremendous amount of progress in one year. Until local residents get some assurances that stronger levee protection will be forthcoming, however, the recovery effort is going to limp along until the memory of Katrina starts to fade.

If you a homeowner, try to imagine what it would be like for the 20 square miles around your home to be completely flooded with standing water for an entire month. And then imagine what it would be like to know that it might happen again in a year. Compound that reality with the fact that you still owe X on your mortgage, but your insurance company isn't paying out because its potential losses are so enormous that they have decided to delay, delay, delay paying valid claims. It's a miracle that there is as much activity as there is.

Certainly, there are bigger problems in the world, but this is a very real human tragedy. Although the City of New Orleans only had around 450,000 citizens, there were around 1.2 million people displaced in the metro area and we are still missing about 500,000 people. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything. And to make matters worse, the support networks that people rely on in tough times (family and friends), also likely lost everything. These are difficult times for lots of people. New Orleans still needs your help and compassion.

It is also worth noting that FEMA appears to have learned absolutely nothing from this entire experience.
posted by ajr at 8:16 PM on August 29, 2006


...A rational thinker, of course, would note the silliness of this argument in the context of President Bush's performance post-landfall: if the levees weren't as strong as believed, does that mean George W. Bush didn't play guitar with a Country singer while lots of poor people drowned? If it turned out Hillary Clinton bombed the levees open herself I fail to see how this changes the President's actions.

But that's the argument necessary for right-wing punditry: suggest that the devastation of New Orleans was an inevitabilty rather than a culmination of multiple parties partaking in breathtaking ineptness, including the President and his cronies. The point is to perpetuate the talking point that New Orleans was destined to be destroyed...

posted by amberglow at 8:37 PM on August 29, 2006


Still Broken: ... A year later, New Orleans remains a city crippled not only by a natural disaster, but by a man-made one: a Republican administration that sat on its ass and ate birthday cake while a city drowned has compounded that frightening lack of human decency by breaking promise after promise to those in the region.
Of course, only a fool would think that that has been an accident. Bush put Karl Rove in charge of the administration’s post-Katrina strategy, an act of bad faith of such magnitude that one recoils from the sheer monstrosity of it. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:43 PM on August 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


OTOH, I heard on CBC Radio today, an interview with some Louisiana politico, discussing the funding of and progress regarding various projects. If there's action behind the words, it sounds like the state departments are gunning to use this as an opportunity to restructure/rebuild the school and health systems, something it sorely needed.

If he's true to his word, and there are others like him mending the state, I think it'll work out well in the end.

Gonna suck in the meantime, natch.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:55 PM on August 29, 2006


Perhaps this isn't the worst place to mention that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's new album, a "reimagining" of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, is the bomb diggity. With Chuck D, G. Love etc etc. Some of the proceeds go to the Tips foundation.
posted by muckster at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Bushtemberfest, or the Festival of Fatal Fuckups, will give GOP-weary Americans a chance to celebrate the non-accomplishments of George W. Bush, the first president to let one major American city be devastated by terrorists and allow another one to drown, all within the space of a few years. ...
posted by amberglow at 12:15 PM on August 30, 2006


... every year that passes after this one may have feints at making things better, but, like all those feckless visits, very little of worth will occur. Besides, inevitably, the next disaster will come along, perhaps the next war, and that initial momentum will be a distant memory as we try to learn to care about someplace else. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:47 PM on August 30, 2006


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