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New Orleans: Destroyed
by Presidential Negligence

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Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all."

In 2001, the New Orleans district spent $147 million on construction projects. When fiscal year 2005 wraps up Sept. 30, the Corps expects to have spent $82 million, a 44.2 percent reduction from 2001 expenditures. ... Unfunded projects include widening drainage canals, flood-proofing bridges and building pumping stations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The Corps also wants to build levees in unprotected areas on the West Bank.

In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said. ... The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.

"It appears that the money has been moved in the presidentís budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose thatís the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees canít be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us." -- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.


A newly leaked video recording of high-level government deliberations the day before Hurricane Katrina hit shows disaster officials emphatically warning President Bush that the storm posed a catastrophic threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and a grim-faced Bush personally assuring state leaders that his administration was "fully prepared" to help. [Washington Post, 3/2/2006]


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After New Orleans thought it had narrowly escaped the worst of Hurricane Katrina's wrath, water broke through two levees, embankments built to prevent flooding, and virtually submerged and isolated the city, causing incalculable destruction and rendering it uninhabitable for weeks to come.

The enormous devastation wreaked upon parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama by Hurricane Katrina is only beginning to come to light, even as the situation in New Orleans grows worse by the hour. Large parts of the coastal regions of these states along the Gulf of Mexico have experienced extensive flooding, destruction of buildings and homes, and loss of life.

As the toll mounts, it becomes increasingly clear that the city of New Orleans was remarkably unprepared for such a disaster. That the city of over one million was spared the direct hit which many at first feared, and nevertheless experienced such massive damage, only underscores the fact that the systems protecting the city are entirely inadequate.

Murky water, laced with junk and pollutants, coursed through the city, including many downtown streets. Residents and rescuers came across floating bodies, though the city's death toll was unknown late Tuesday. Flooding specialists predicted that conditions could worsen as authorities focused first on saving people trapped in buildings.

Some flood-control pumps were broken, choked by excess water or storm debris. Others were lacking power needed to run. Roofs were reported collapsed on at least two major pumping stations. Without the pumps, much of the flood water will have nowhere to drain in this city cradled within a bowl, at an average of 6 feet below sea level.

Hurricane Katrina has probably killed thousands of people in New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin said today [August 31]. If that estimate is accurate, Hurricane Katrina would be the nation's deadliest natural disaster since at least the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands," Nagin said when asked for specifics at a news conference.

Chalk up the city of New Orleans as a cost of Bush's Iraq war. There were not enough helicopters to repair the breached levees and rescue people trapped by rising water. Nor are there enough Louisiana National Guardsmen available to help with rescue efforts and to patrol against looting. The situation is the same in Mississippi. The National Guard and helicopters are off on a fool's mission in Iraq.

I honestly didn't think that George Bush could disappoint America more than he already has. I was wrong.

The president told us that we needed to fight in Iraq to save lives here at home, and yet -- after moving billions of domestic dollars to the Persian Gulf -- there are bodies floating through the streets of Louisiana. What does George W. Bush have to say for himself now?


A sign against US President George W. Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is hung in front of a house in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans, three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the city.

Top federal and local relief officials were to hold a summit in a bid to iron out their dispute over whether it is safe for thousands of New Orleans residents to return to their hurricane-battered city(AFP/Omar Torres)

[Yahoo News 9/19/05]


The message is clear. You are on your own. The levees that collapsed were the ones the canceled funds were intended to strengthen.

With the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals -- and the flooding of most of New Orleans.
[Washington Post]

Bush cut the levee strengthening funds to help pay for his war in Iraq, a war started with lies. This is not wise leadership. It is reckless "loot the treasury to pay for phony wars" leadership. Bush has, through incompetence, wrecked a major US city just as thoroughly as any terrorist could ever hope to do.


See also: New Orleans: Index of What Really Happened


What Really Happened

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