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Old 08-23-2008, 06:20 PM   #1
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Default A Government for the People

Another 'repeated' feather in the cap of the US Government. Not a question of Democratic or Republican tho.

They both share in the 'honor'...


When The Levee Breaks

excerpt:

New Orleans repeating deadly levee mistakes

Levees unable to protect against another storm like Katrina, experts say

NEW ORLEANS - Signs are emerging that history is repeating itself in the Big Easy, still healing from Katrina: People have forgotten a lesson from four decades ago and believe once again that the federal government is constructing a levee system they can prosper behind.

In a yearlong review of levee work here, The Associated Press has tracked a pattern of public misperception, political jockeying and legal fighting, along with economic and engineering miscalculations since Katrina, that threaten to make New Orleans the scene of another devastating flood.

Dozens of interviews with engineers, historians, policymakers and flood zone residents confirmed many have not learned from public policy mistakes made after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, which set the stage for Katrina; many mistakes are being repeated....

'Not exactly great protection'

When and if the Army Corps of Engineers finishes $14.8 billion in post-Katrina work, the city will have limited protection — what are defined as 100-year levees.

This does not mean they'd stand up to storms for a century. Under the 100-year standard, in fact, experts say that every house being rebuilt in New Orleans has a 26 percent chance of being flooded again over a 30-year mortgage; and every child born in New Orleans would have nearly a 60 percent chance of seeing a major flood in his or her life.

"It's not exactly great protection," said John Barry, the author of "Rising Tide," a book New Orleans college students read to learn about the corps' efforts to tame the Mississippi.

As a rule, any levee building makes people feel good in this unsettling landscape where the Gulf of Mexico can be seen gleaming from the top floors of skyscrapers and where the ubiquitous dynamics of a sinking and eroding river delta ripple through every aspect of life.

Levees tend to get built after devastating hurricanes: It's happening now and it happened after Betsy struck and flooded much of the same low ground that Katrina invaded.

"We did go in and did a whole bunch of levee work right after Betsy," said Philip Ciaccio, a New Orleans appellate judge and longtime former politician from eastern New Orleans, a reclaimed swamp transformed into the Big Easy's version of the American suburban dream.

Between Betsy and Katrina, about 22,000 homes were constructed in eastern New Orleans out of an abundance of confidence.

"We were under the illusion that what we had done would prevent another Betsy from flooding the area," Ciaccio said. "Hopefully the experts know what they're doing this time."

The corps says its work is making the city safer, but there are serious doubts.

At every step in the scramble to correct the engineering breakdowns of Katrina, independent experts have questioned the ability of the corps, an agency that has accumulated ever more power over the fate of New Orleans, to do the right job.

On the road to recovery, the agency has installed faulty drainage pumps, used outdated measurements, issued incorrect data, unearthed critical flaws, made conflicting statements about flood risk and flunked reviews by the National Research Council.

At the same time, the corps has run into funding problems, lawsuits, a tangle of local interests and engineering difficulties — all of which has led to delays in getting the promised work done.

An initial September 2010 target to complete the $14.8 billion in post-Katrina work has slipped to mid-2011. Then last September, an Army audit found 84 percent of work behind schedule because of engineering complexities, environmental provisos and real estate transactions. The report added that costs would likely soar.

A more recent analysis shows the start of 84 of 156 projects was delayed — 15 of them by six months or more. Meanwhile, a critical analysis of what it would take to build even stronger protection — 500-year-type levees — was supposed to be done last December but remains unfinished.

More setback opportunities

Another opportunity for setbacks: The corps says it will need more than 100 million cubic yards of clay and dirt to build up levees — enough to fill the Louisiana Superdome 20 times.

Also on the corps' drawing board are gigantic pumps capable of pushing more than 20,000 cubic feet of water per second. For comparison, the biggest pumps in New Orleans move about 6,000 cfs every second and they're among the most impressive in the nation.

That's not all: The corps has awarded The Shaw Group a $695 million contract to build a massive barrier against storm surge in the Industrial Canal. It's touted as one of the biggest public works projects ever performed by the agency.

Publicly, the corps says the work is on budget and will be done by 2011.

"The progress I see each time I visit is really remarkable. The region has a better hurricane and storm damage reduction system in place than ever before in its history — and it will continue to get better," Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, the corps chief, wrote on his blog in April.

Al Naomi, a corps branch chief who's worked for the past 37 years in New Orleans, said he was upbeat because Congress has shown a willingness to fund the work. In addition, he said, enough elements are coming together to make him "cautiously optimistic" the work will stay on track.

Doubts, though, weigh on those familiar with the game plan.

"It's almost one of those proverbial 'you can't get there from where we are' situations," said Gerald Spohrer, executive director of the West Jefferson levee district. The deadline, he said, is "overly optimistic."

The trouble so far stirs up bad memories: Of the four decades of excruciatingly slow levee building after Betsy.

Betsy was eerily similar to Katrina. The levees broke. Water reached roof tops and people clung to trees for survival. A flotilla of rescuers worked for days in lingering floodwaters.

In Betsy's aftermath, President Lyndon B. Johnson — like President Bush — pledged to rebuild New Orleans and make it safe from hurricanes. Little more than a month after the storm, Congress gave the corps $85 million to build a Category 3 hurricane levee system.

By 1976, though, the Government Accountability Office found the completion date for the work had slipped 13 years, from 1978 to 1991. Costs had soared to $352 million. By 1982, the GAO found that the project's cost had increased to $757 million and the agency said the work would not get done by 2008.

Katrina's storm surge laid bare the incomplete and inadequate work.

What happened? By 1968, a Congress worn down by the Vietnam war and economic turmoil began reining in spending; at the same time, the work met resistance from Louisiana politicians, communities, environmentalists and businesses fighting for individual interests.

For example, the corps scrapped a plan in the 1970s to build a floodgate at the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain out of concern that it would impede boats and marine life. Next, the alternate plan to build gates at the mouths of city drainage canals was rejected. Finally, the corps built floodwalls on the canals — and they broke during Katrina.

Can this sort of history repeat itself?

"All the human instincts post-Katrina are the same (as) post-Betsy," said Oliver Houck, a natural resources law professor at Tulane University and longtime New Orleans resident who participated in many of the fights since Betsy.

Some present-day examples of those instincts:

* Politicians have pushed for development in wetlands, undercut flood protection efforts with legislation and balked at paying for levee work.
* Environmentalists have pushed for wetlands-sensitive policies that arguably could add millions of dollars in costs.
* Residents have filed lawsuits to stop the corps from removing trees the agency says pose a risk to levees and sued the corps over the Katrina levee breaches.
* Policymakers are encouraging development in risky areas.

Ameliorating that last instinct is the business of Joe Sullivan, the 82-year-old city engineer who's overseen the New Orleans drainage and water department for nearly a half century.

"We keep building in holes, and contractors keep trying to move in and take advantage of a situation: They come in with a bunch of contractors, sell off property in low places, take their money and run," Sullivan said.

He runs his finger across a city drainage map. On it, green indicates low-lying terrain, and green is everywhere.

"You see that green spot up there? That's below sea level, well below sea level," he said. "There's some people going to have dinner tonight out there in New Orleans east, they're walking on the floor inside their house at 13 feet below sea level."

Naomi, the Corps of Engineers veteran, said his agency was candid about telling people the risk they face.

"We're in the job of risk reduction, not risk elimination," he said. "Strictly relying on levees alone should not give anyone the impression they are risk free. I think that would be a horrible mistake to make."...

"What we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history," said Tim Doody, the president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, a consolidated regional levee board created after Katrina to improve levee protection.

"What happened after Betsy? Katrina," Doody said. "And what's going to happen after Katrina? Pick a name and put it on it and it's going to happen again unless we pull together to make sure."


Just another great example of our government in action & taking care of the people & keeping all of our taxes down.

But remember to get out & vote. I can't wait for the new regime to 'fix' things.
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Old 08-24-2008, 04:36 PM   #2
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But remember to get out & vote. I can't wait for the new regime to 'fix' things.
:lol:

Nothing will change over-night. Gradual progress - the best we can hope for in our current system.
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Old 08-25-2008, 07:07 PM   #3
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Uh Tark, you've posted an article that will only negatively impact poor people who are predominantly black.

Please only post articles that relate to actual human beings please.

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Old 08-26-2008, 01:05 AM   #4
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Uh Tark, you've posted an article that will only negatively impact poor people who are predominantly black.

Please only post articles that relate to actual human beings please.

Well that was horrifying.

I really hope the new regime, whoever it may be, addresses the levee situation there. It would be a waste of money to fix the problem and then have the 'fix' blown away again, but then again the government has never really had a problem with wasting taxpayers money.
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Old 08-26-2008, 01:09 AM   #5
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I hope the city of New Orleans actually uses the federal money for its intended purpose, as opposed to the way the money has been used for years. They are more corrupt than any other city in this country, and that's saying a lot.
The city of New Orleans has never had a problem misusing federal funds in the past and I don't see much reason to believe they will discontinue that practice anytime soon.
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Old 08-26-2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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"Not a question of Democratic or Republican tho."

Really? I would say that it IS a question of Republican or Democrat (surprise, surprise!)

There is a fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats - taxes. We always hear people cry and moan about "high taxes" and "big government." It's a good way to get out the vote, but not a good way to govern a nation.

When you cut taxes, you must cut spending. As we all know, social work programs throughout the nation have been decimated by the Bush tax cuts, leaving millions of children unprotected.

But that's not the only area of inadequate funding.

By 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year…forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze.

In fiscal year 2004, the Corps requested $11 million for the project. The President’s budget allocated $3 million, and Congress furnished $5.5 million. Similarly, in fiscal 2005 the Corps requested $22.5 million, which the President cut to $3.9 million in his budget. Congress increased that to $5.5 million. “This was insufficient to fund new construction contracts,” according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ project fact sheet. The Corps reported that “seven new contracts are being delayed due to lack funds”.

The President proposed $3 million for the project in the budget for fiscal 2006, which begins Oct. 1. “This will be insufficient to fund new construction projects,” the fact sheet stated. It says the Corps “could spend $20 million if funds were provided.”

-------------

In 1995 Bill Clinton and congress approved the adequate funding for such projects. Those projects were cut short with the Bush administration and his tax cuts.

There is a price to pay for "low taxes." In August of 2005, New Orleans paid the price in human lives.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:41 PM   #7
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Nothing will change over-night. Gradual progress - the best we can hope for in our current system.


It's that kind of attitude towards things that aren't hi-profile enough that create future debacles that cripple this country & it's economy.

There's absolutely no reason to 'wait & see' on any issues that impact the American people. There's more than enough government agencies & resources to handle issues like these but yet they just get attention when everything goes to Hell.


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Uh Tark, you've posted an article that will only negatively impact poor people who are predominantly black.

Please only post articles that relate to actual human beings please.



You're right once again. I don't know what I was thinking...


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I hope the city of New Orleans actually uses the federal money for its intended purpose, as opposed to the way the money has been used for years. They are more corrupt than any other city in this country, and that's saying a lot.
The city of New Orleans has never had a problem misusing federal funds in the past and I don't see much reason to believe they will discontinue that practice anytime soon.
Just another case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Allocating monies to an area & then not following up on it's use is ridiculous & allowing the misuse of funds is criminal.

As far as NO officials...string 'em up...


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"Not a question of Democratic or Republican tho."

Really? I would say that it IS a question of Republican or Democrat (surprise, surprise!)


That's just party rhetoric, CK.

This isn't about how much worse one party is compared to another. They both have let this issue continue on their watch. It's irrelevant on who is more culpable since both are.

The Government has failed the people on both sides...
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:47 AM   #8
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Fresh, the money was allocated and sent to New Orleans and the people in power there squandered it on things other than levees. They are to blame for their own problems and until more federal money is given, I would expect to see concrete plans for the reconstruction and maintanence of the levees, period.
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Old 08-27-2008, 09:15 AM   #9
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That's just party rhetoric, CK.

This isn't about how much worse one party is compared to another. They both have let this issue continue on their watch. It's irrelevant on who is more culpable since both are.

The Government has failed the people on both sides...
I would say it does matter who is more culpable.

I use my analogy again. It's the difference between a kick in the nuts, or a slap in the face. Both are undesirable, but their is a clear choice as to which one hurts more.

Quote:
Fresh, the money was allocated and sent to New Orleans and the people in power there squandered it on things other than levees. They are to blame for their own problems and until more federal money is given, I would expect to see concrete plans for the reconstruction and maintanence of the levees, period.
WRONG!

The Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent.

80% of the funding was cut by Bush.

Don't lie, because the stats are easily found.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:34 PM   #10
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I'm not lying, Fresh. The money that was given to the city of New Orleans during the past 30 years has not been properly spent.
The problem lies there, not with the federal government.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:41 PM   #11
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I'm not lying, Fresh. The money that was given to the city of New Orleans during the past 30 years has not been properly spent.
The problem lies there, not with the federal government.
Of course... Because the local government is democratic, and federal government is republicans...

Look beyond your biases for one moment. Objective people like me understand that all levels of government are to blame for the disaster in new Orleans.

Are you saying that George W. Bush has no blame in the disaster?

The Army Corp. of Engineers would like to debate you on that point.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:48 PM   #12
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No Fresh. I have eliminated bias from my statement. Over the last 30 years, adequate amounts of money have been given to the city of New Orleans to renovate and maintain their levee system. The city goveenment chose to utilize the funds for other purposes.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:49 PM   #13
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No Fresh. I have eliminated bias from my statement. Over the last 30 years, adequate amounts of money have been given to the city of New Orleans to renovate and maintain their levee system. The city goveenment chose to utilize the funds for other purposes.
Please cite specific examples.
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:49 PM   #14
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And Fresh, when did Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi become Republicans?
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Old 08-27-2008, 12:51 PM   #15
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Please cite specific examples.
The city of New Orleans built several casinos and hotels with the fund, as opposed to maintaining their levees.
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