REPAIRS WERE MISSED
LITTLE REPAIRS DON'T MAKE A CATEGORY 5 LEVEE
It is true that we have been reducing, not increasing, the level of
maintenance for the pumps and levees of New Orleans. I know it,
you know it , here are 4 examples. BUT THIS DOESN'T MATTER.
we must do is decide whether New Orleans deserves a Category 3 level of
protection, or Category 4 or Category 5. If our government can't
decide, let's you and me decide. Since they can't foresee or cope
with a storm that will top their levees, I vote for Category 5.
EXAMPLE 1: CUTS in HURRICANE PROTECTION
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested $27 million for this fiscal
year (2005) to pay for hurricane-protection projects around Lake
Pontchartrain. The Bush administration countered with $3.9 million, and
Congress eventually provided $5.7 million, according to figures
provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Budget
shortfalls occurring during the war in Iraq have caused seven contracts
to be delayed, including enlarging the levees, according to Army Crops
of Engineers documents.
EXAMPLE 2: ABANDONED PLANNING FOR
EVACUATIONS AND SHELTERING
When Michael D. Brown, director of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, returned in January 2005 from a
tour of the tsunami devastation in Asia, he urgently gathered his aides
to prepare for a similar catastrophe at home. "New Orleans was the No.
1 disaster we were talking about," recalled Eric L. Tolbert, then a top
FEMA official. "We were obsessed with New Orleans because of the risk."
Mr. Tolbert said that "funding dried up" for follow-up to the Hurricane
Pam exercise begun in 2004, cutting off work on plans to shelter
thousands of survivors.
In June of 2004, the Army Corps of
Engineers' budget for levee construction in New Orleans was cut by a
record $71.2 million. Jefferson Parish emergency management chief
Walter Maestri said at the time, "It appears that the money has been
moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war
in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy
that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can
to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
EXAMPLE 4: IF ANYONE SAYS "STOP
ABANDONING ALL THIS," THEN FIRE HIM
Mike Parker, Assistant Secretary of
the Army and the head of the Army Corp of Engineers, drew media
attention (and the White House's ire) in 2002 by telling the Senate
Budget Committee that a White House proposal to cut just over $2
billion from the Corps' $6 billion budget request would have a
"negative impact" on the national interest. On 7 March 2002, Parker
resigned about noon after being given about 30 minutes to choose
between resigning or being fired.
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