Media Blog

Who Drowned New Orleans?

Yet another report puts the blame on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Read the executive summary (pdf) for a prime illustration of bureaucratic bungling and inefficiency resulting in catastrophic failure. Worse, the Corps does not appear to have learned from its mistakes. A horrifying excerpt:

Today, the USACE seeks funds to rebuild flood defenses for a ruined city that will offer a level of protection originally conceived in the late 1950s. The evolution of the Standard Project Hurricane shows that this level of protection was known to be inadequate by at least the early 1970s. Since Katrina, elements of the 1950s era plan that were not built… have been retrieved from mothballs, and are now being included in virtually all restoration plans. 

Yet the media consistently downplay the Corps’ responsibility for drowning New Orleans and consistently play up FEMA’s minor (by contrast) failures during the rescue effort. Any guesses why that is? Here’s a hint: The Corps’ failures predate the 2000 presidential election.

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