Category Archives: NOLA

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.

It started with a photograph

From ProPublica:

It was three days after the levees broke: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005 — in my limited view, the day things completely fell apart in New Orleans.

The desperation was mounting. The cavalry wasn’t coming, it seemed. We were in it alone.

As we drove up Religious Street, just past the Saulet Apartments, we saw a dicey situation ahead. Police-issue Crown Victorias blocking the intersection. A parked bus and a wrecked limo. And a swarm of police officers in the street, guns drawn, facing the other direction.

Georgiev, a Macedonian national who has spent much of his life covering wars, went into gung-ho mode. He took a right — toward the lake — on Race Street. Then left at the next block, St. Thomas Street. Then left again on Richard. And suddenly, we were right in the middle of chaos.

We saw a man, clad in a white T-shirt, down on the pavement, hands behind his back, not moving. We were both sure he was dead. A lot of agitated police officers hovered around.

It seemed no one noticed, though we were less than 50 feet away. Georgiev shot off a few frames, then started to drive away. As he passed through the intersection, the cops yelled at us to stop. Some had their guns raised. I shouted to stop, and Georgiev did, not as quickly as I would have.

A few cops rushed over and stuck their guns in our faces. I said I worked for the Picayune. I was told to shut up and get out.

They threw us up against a cinderblock wall and frisked us. There was a lot of cursing, and one of the officers mentioned a shootout.

One of the cops grabbed the notebook out of my shorts. They also snatched one of Georgiev’s cameras.

Lying in the weeds

A few months ago, I reached out to Georgiev, who lives in Macedonia, and he sent me two photos of the incident. A closer look at them reveals that there seem to be two guys on the ground, not one. Georgiev’s second shot shows a human form in the street, next to one of the police cars, wearing a red shirt and hidden behind weeds.

As it happens, the existence of a second person squares with the only official account of the incident I’ve been able to get thus far. That account came from Anthony Cannatella, a semiretired deputy chief with 42 years on the force who during Katrina was the commander of the 6th District, where the incident happened.

Cannatella — to his credit, one of the only officers who will talk about any of this — was one of the cops who responded, though I didn’t see him that day. As Katrina descended, Cannatella says he told “his guys” this: “We’re gonna do basic police work until someone comes and relieves us.”

Read the rest of the article here.  There are federal grand juries investigating the actions of the NOLA PD after Katrina. How they shot first and never asked questions later. In my heart, I know there were police officers that did the right thing..just as there are police officers who did not. How anyone will be able to separate them, years later, is the $50,000.00 question.

But you really can’t put a price on a human life.

Katrina-lest we forget..

The fourth anniversary of Katrina making landfall was today, Saturday. The horror stories are still fresh in my mind, and most likely will visit me during the night when I sleep tonight.

The gulf coast still has not recovered. The people of the gulf coast still have not recovered.

The Big O says he will go to NOLA sometime this year. He marked the anniversary by talking briefly about the horror of Katrina on his weekly address. He mentioned how his administration is trying to retool the programs that were designed to help the survivors of Katrina. Eleven members of his administration have gone to the region.

He then changed the subject and talked about the H1N1 flu virus.

Lest we forget, the toll on human life following Katrina’s landfall was:

1,836 confirmed deaths, Between 135 and 705 never found and presumed dead depending on which report you read/believe.

The vast majority of the missing and presumed dead are African-American.

We should never forget the ravages of the gulf coast and what it did to the people of the region after Katrina hit land. We can never let it happen again matter what it takes..we can never let any part of our citizenry go through what the folks of NOLA experienced with regard to our government’s actions and handling of the crisis.

I got family in Houma LA

I have been glued to my internet watching streaming video from one of Louisiana’s tv stations since yesterday afternoon. 

Its extended famliy, one of my son’s closest friends, his wife and two babies are residents of the NOLA area. His house survived Katrina and was in fact used as a medical unit for months afterward. 

They left yesterday, going opposite of the storm to the safety of a hotel the next state over. Fernie is a good man, although I still think of him as a kid. 😉

I talked to him a few minutes ago, and he is still on the road, the youngest baby hollering his fool head off in the background. 

I told him what I know, and what the tv station is saying…its still not sure how big or where Gustav will land. 

And I know Fernie is worried, he got through the first one, but is it gonna hit his home and office this time? 

Fuck I hope not…I am praying it won’t. 

Meanwhile, bus companies that were contracted to haul po’ folks out of the area are NOT living up to their contracts. Sending only a couple hundred bus’s when they are liable for 700.

Such bullshittery. Its fucking maddening. 

Another goodie from Steve at Bring it On.

Thank you SteveO 😉