Loc: Downtown Beaufort Marina, SC
Wed Aug 31 2005 03:06 PM
I can certainly understand Mayor Nagin's frustration about the Levees and Army Corps of Engineers. Corps doesn't have what they need (or DIDN'T) to do what has to be done, though. I know those guys (my wife is a certified civil engineer) and they really try to do what's best, even when they have their hands tied.
One thing that needs to be made clear about the situation New Orleans is facing is that it was completely expected. Earlier this year FEMA ranked the potential damage to New Orleans (in terms of flooding) as among the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country. Turns out they were spot on.
Unfortunately, the reality is that in general, funding for Corps construction has been on a downward trend for the past several years. In 2001, the New Orleans district spent $147 million on construction projects. When fiscal year 2005 wraps up Sept. 30, the ACOE 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 ACOE also wanted to build levees in unprotected areas on the West Bank, but couldn't because of budgetary restrictions.
The Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes has seen their budget drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for next year by the House of Representatives and the president.
At this point, I think this is all moot, given the situation.
I feel incredible sorrow for the Mayor, and for the rest of that part of the Gulf. Tragedy and travesty.
"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary.