Why are none of us locals surprised??? This is a long except but well worth the read.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a massive new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.
Except barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing.
In Katrina’s wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush’s administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times larger.
Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state’s congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana’s representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.
For example, after a $194 million deepening project for the Port of Iberia flunked a Corps cost-benefit analysis, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., [The Pork Princess ed] tucked language into an emergency Iraq spending bill ordering the agency to redo its calculations. The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways like the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River — now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project’s congressional godfather — for barge traffic that turns out to be less than forecast.
Levees only so strong
But overall, the Bush administration’s funding requests for the key New Orleans flood-control projects for the past five years were slightly higher than the Clinton administration’s for its past five years. Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the chief of the Corps, has said that in any event, more money would not have prevented the drowning of the city, since its levees were only designed to protect against a Category 3 storm. Strock also has said the marsh restoration project would not have done much to diminish Katrina’s storm surge, which passed east of the coastal wetlands.
“The project manager for the Great Pyramids probably put in a request for 100 million shekels and only got 50 million,” said John Paul Woodley Jr., the Bush administration official overseeing the Corps. “Flood protection is always a work in progress; on any given day, if you ask whether any community has all the protection it needs, the answer is almost always: Maybe, but maybe not.”
The Corps had been studying the possibility of upgrading the New Orleans levees for a higher level of protection before Katrina hit, but Woodley said that study would not have been finished for years.
There was actually a plan to upgrade the miles of levees to Cat 5 standards, but that was multiple billions of dollars and more importantly a 30 year project.
Even if fully funded the day Bush took office, New Orleans would have flooded. The levee that broke was the newest of them all.. the construction was still on going in the area. (as those of us who used to eat at Sidmar’s can tell you 😉 The “old” levees held.
Still, liberal bloggers, Democratic politicians and some Republican defenders of the Corps have linked the catastrophe to the underfunding of the agency.
“We’ve been hollering about funding for years, but everyone would say: There goes Louisiana again, asking for more money,” said former Democratic senator John Breaux. “We’ve had some powerful people in powerful places, but we never got what we needed.”
No Senator, Louisiana got more than it needed…. You just wasted it. And now millions people people are paying the price.