Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blood on their hands

LSU researchers today released the results of their nearly 18-month study of the role of the Army Corps of Engineers in the flooding that destroyed much of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

They came to the same conclusion as everyone else who has studied the levee system failures since the storm.

The headline on Bob Marshall's story about the report in The Times-Picayune doesn't mince words - "Corps caused disaster, report says."

Here are some excerpts from the article:

- By ignoring two increases in the severity of the Standard Project Hurricane — the model storm the system was designed to thwart — the corps knowingly failed its 1965 Congressional charge to protect the city against “the most severe combination of meteorological conditions reasonably expected.”

- In 1985, the head of the project ordered his staff to ignore an official reduction in the elevation of the land they were building on, which meant the corps finished levees and flood walls it knew were as much as two feet lower than claimed. That decision ultimately helped turn Katrina from an inconvenience into a catastrophe.

Applying the corps’ own design manuals in use at the time, Team Louisiana found instances where the agency missed glaring engineering mistakes made by subcontractors, which led to breeches including those on the 17th Street and London Avenue canals.

The system “was managed like a circa 1965 flood-control museum,” the report reads, pointing out that the corps made no improvements to account for well-known changes in elevations, sea-level rise or even gaps left in the system.

- Paul Kemp, who was part of Team Louisiana as an LSU storm modeler, said he was “struck by the fact that the corps showed no sense of mission on this project, even thought it was involved with it for more than 40 years.”

- (T)he agency showed "absolute adherence" to obsolete standards -- a 1959 model for the Standard Project Hurricane. And yet the corps seemed willing, Kemp said, to make other wholesale change(s) mid-stream, such as abandoning a proposal to install floodgates at the canals in the mid-1980s, which might have stopped the Katrina surge that ultimately broke through the walls. "It looked like no one was really in charge," he said.

Can anyone tell me why criminal charges haven't been brought against any current and former Army Corps officials who clearly were responsible for this disaster and the deaths of hundreds of people?

And why the HELL is this disaster of an agency still overseeing the nation's flood control systems? Who will they kill next?

No comments: