Category Archives: Army Corp of Engineers

When the levees broke..The Big UnEasy cover-up

I have always said it wasn’t Katrina, it was the Army Corp of Engineers that caused the flooding and deaths in New Orleans after Katrina hit the gulf. Lots of scientists and just regular folk agreed with me.

What makes this whole thing worse and downright fucking nauseating is that the Army Corp of Engineers rebuilt the levee’s as fucked up as the first set. I wrote about that bullshittery here in May of 2007. It’s from a National Geographic piece that exposed the Army Corp of Engineers construction of the… levees. The Nat Geo piece is quite extensive, or was as I haven’t checked to see if they still include all the interviews with scientists and aerial footage of the flaw’s in those new and improved levees.

Harry Shearer also agrees with me on many of the points I have made above. Harry made a film about the cover-up. It will show one night, tomorrow night. From the film’s website:

In his feature-length documentary, The Big Uneasy, humorist and New Orleans resident Harry Shearer gets the inside story of a disaster that could have been prevented from the people who were there. As we near the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Shearer speaks to the investigators who poked through the muck as the water receded and a whistle-blower from the Army Corps of Engineers, revealing that some of the same flawed methods responsible for the levee failure during Katrina are being used to rebuild the system expected to protect the New Orleans from future peril.

The Big Uneasy is laced with computer imagery that takes you inside the structures that failed so catastrophically, and boasts never–before–seen video of the moments when New Orleans began to flood and the painstaking investigations that followed. The Big Uneasy marks the beginning of the end of five years of ignorance about what happened to one of our nation’s most treasured cities — and serves as a stark reminder that the same agency that failed to protect New Orleans still exists in other cities across America.

It’s government at it’s worst folks..pure and simple. And New Orleans is still at risk…but who cares…not the Army Corp of Engineers evidently, and dare I say it….the federal government, which includes the culpable parties known as the House of Representatives and the Senate and finally state and local governments and agency’s.

If you wish to see the documentary, the theaters and showtimes can be found on this page at the films website.

I wish I could see it but my neck of the woods is run by rightwing nutters and the film isn’t showing anywhere near me..closest is two hours away in L.A. I can’t wait for the DVD to become available.

Oh, and read the MotherJones piece I link to above by David Corn which highlights much of what the movie exposes. It’s sure to get you least if you have a pulse and care about people, it should. I still don’t get why folks aren’t up in arms about this fuckery the Army Corp of Engineers pulled…not once…but fucking twice on the City of New Orleans.

The Independent Levee Investigation Team Report (links to which are on the film’s website) is very enlightening and depressing.From the Executive Summary of what went wrong in New Orleans:

In the end, it is concluded that many things went wrong with the New Orleans flood protection system during Hurricane Katrina, and that the resulting catastrophe had it roots in three main causes: (1) a major natural disaster (the Hurricane itself), (2) the poor performance of the flood protection system, due to localized engineering failures, questionable judgments, errors, etc. involved in the detailed design, construction,  operation and maintenance of the system, and (3) more global “organizational” and  institutional problems associated with the governmental and local organizations  responsible for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and funding of the  overall flood protection system.

Below is a very short trailer of the documentary.

Army Corp of Engineers found liable for Katrina damage.

A lower federal court has ruled for the residents of the ninth ward and roughly 100,000 other residents of New Orleans.

The government will most likely appeal this ruling. From the NPR link:

A federal judge in New Orleans has ruled the U.S. government owes damages to residents whose homes were swamped by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters in 2005.

In a sometimes scathing critique of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval found “monumental negligence” in the operation and maintenance of a shipping channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

He rejected the government’s argument that the Corps was immune from liability and had properly maintained the navigation channel, known locally as MRGO.

Flood victims had sued, arguing the widening of the channel and subsequent loss of protective wetlands turned MRGO into a speedway for Katrina’s storm surge. Judge Duval blamed government engineers for letting the shipping channel “run amok.”

Duval awarded damages of about $720,000 to four people and a business. The case has been closely watched by other Katrina victims seeking compensation from the government.

Three cheers for this judge. The ruling might not stand but he did the right thing anyway regardless of how the higher federal courts rule. 

New Orleans’ Rebuilt Levees "Riddled With Flaws"

From National Geographic:

Almost a year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declared that it had restored New Orleans’ levees and floodwalls to pre-Hurricane Katrina strength.

But the system is actually riddled with flaws, and a storm even weaker than Katrina could breach the levees if it hit this year, say leading experts who have investigated the system.

The unwelcome news comes as residents gird for what is predicted to be a “very active” Atlantic hurricane season, and as residents are still slowly rebuilding their homes and lives after Katrina.

During a recent inspection of the levee system with National Geographic magazine, engineering professor Bob Bea of the University of California, Berkeley, found multiple weak spots.

The most serious flaws turned up in the rebuilt levees along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ship channel.

The channel’s levees had failed in more than 20 places when Katrina’s storm surge pounded them, leading to devastating flooding in the Louisiana city’s Lower Ninth Ward and in St. Bernard Parish, which borders the city to the southeast.

Bea found several areas where rainstorms have already eroded the newly rebuilt levees, particularly where they consist of a core of sandy and muddy soils topped with a cap of Mississippi clay.

“It’s like icing on the top of angel food cake,” Bea said. “These levees will not be here if you put a Katrina surge against them.”

Bea also found that decade-old gaps remain in the floodwalls lining the Orleans Avenue Canal. And hurricane-damaged sections of the walls along the London Avenue and 17th Street Canals have not been repaired or replaced.

Even more troubling, water appears to be seeping under the stout new floodwall erected along the Industrial Canal to protect the Lower Ninth Ward.

(See an interactive map of the weak spots).Watch a video of University of California–Berkeley engineering professor Bob Bea flying over the levees and discussing the defects.

Ain’t that some shit my dear reader?

To read the rest of the National Geographic article click here for page two. It will make you sick perhaps..or make you cry. But you should be pissed no matter how you slice it.

Crossposted at Bring It On!

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