Well the final, final, final report is in and the Army Corps of Engineers has accepted responsibility for destroying New Orleans…. Although it wouldn’t be a Corps report after all if they didn’t have a bit of disingenuous ass-covering mixed in.
By Mark Schleifstein
The failure to build New Orleans area hurricane levees and levee walls as part of an integrated, well-fortified system doomed the region during Katrina and remains the key finding of a revised report released Monday by an Army Corps of Engineers-sponsored investigation team .
“The system did not perform as a system,” concluded members of the Integrated Performance Evaluation Task Force, which has spent that past 19 months detailing the causes and effects of of Katrina’s flooding on the levee system and the metropolitan area.
Katrina’s storm surge found a wide variety of weaknesses resulting from the system being built as a series of individual projects — problems such as low levee sections, weak links between levee projects and failed designs. Those individual failures resulted in water invading the entire protection system, the report concluded.
The whole point of engineering is to eliminate all possible points of failure. That’s what engineers do. This admission by the Corps is -in engineering terms- an admission of complete incompetence. That their system failed in multiple ways only proves that they failed to do their job in multiple ways.
The Corps has been “bragging” since the storm that their hurricane protection system failed in several different and unique ways. I can only assume that not a single one of them understands that’s a really bad thing to admit.
But watch the Corps’ verbal Razzle Dazzle we’ve come to know and hate….
The report again concludes that “particularly inadequate” designs of levee walls along the 17th Street and London Avenue drainage canals resulted in their failure, despite storm surge water not overtopping them.
Had the New Orleans area levees been more formidable, such as with armoring or stronger levee walls, damage from Katrina would’ve been cut dramatically, the report said. It concludes, for example, that half the direct property losses, and much of the indirect damage to the city’s economy from the flood, may have been averted if levees and walls had just been overtopped, but not breached.
Did you get that? They’re still hinting that the floodwalls where overtopped and that was the big problem. Of course that’s not true. The biggest failure was on a floodwall that was never overtopped. It failed before the storm really arrived. (video)
So -spin not withstanding- the damage they caused was much greater than half. (most estimates put it at greater than 75%)
[EXPLAINER: Some of the levees where overtopped AND breeched but they don’t account for the majority of the damage, the floodwalls do and they where NOT overtopped. I know, it’s confusing.]
The lawsuits against the Corps have crossed the $400 BILLION mark. I’m no legal scholar but they don’t look to be in too good a position.
They’re left arguing that their designed crumbled like a wet paper bag BUT they where not negligent. The problem of course is the mountains of data they ignored, the dozens of engineering standards they broke and that little problem of the full sized prototype failing but them building the project anyway. — Which later failed with the exact same failure mechanisms as the prototype. That pretty much defines negligence.