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With a few weeks between us and Katrina along with Rita - more and more information is flowing about the current administrations policies that just aren't working.
The only thing they seem to work on is making thier GOP buddies richer even in the events of natural disasters.

Unnatural Disaster
How policy decisions doomed New Orleans

By Joel Bleifuss and Brian Cook

Stranded victims of Hurricane Katrina wait outside the Superdome to be evacuated.

White House Press Spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters in response to questions about the devastating havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, “This is not a time for politics.”

But with New Orleans now underwater, hundreds—if not thousands—dead and tens of thousands in desperate need of food, shelter and water, the natural question is: What could the federal government have done to lessen this catastrophe? The answer is all about politics.

The Bush administration, having done its best to realize Grover Norquist’s dream of cutting government “to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,” for days watched impotently as citizens of New Orleans were drowned. It is a disaster that is largely the consequence of the policy decisions that the White House has made over the past five years.
The faults of FEMA

The first defense was to plead ignorance. On September 1, President George W. Bush told “Good Morning America,” “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Except Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 2001 FEMA designated a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three “likeliest, most catastrophic disasters facing this county.” At the time, FEMA was headed by Bush’s former chief of staff in Texas, Joe Allbaugh, a self described political “heavy” who had no background in disaster relief.

With FEMA under Allbaugh’s watch, White House budget director Mitch Daniels announced in April 2001 the goal of privatizing much of FEMA’s work. As Allbaugh explained to Congress a month later, “Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management. Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level.”

Allbaugh resigned in December 2002, announcing that he was going to seek his fortune by setting up a consulting firm that would help corporations hoping to do business in Iraq. His replacement, Michael Brown, also had no experience with disaster relief.

In March 2003, FEMA became a part of the Homeland Security Department and its emphasis shifted from dealing with natural disasters to potential terrorist attacks. Writing in the September 1 Washington Post, Eric Holdeman, emergency management director for King County, Washington, asked why “the country’s premier agency for dealing with such events [has been] systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security.”

He noted that this year “it was announced that FEMA is to ‘officially’ lose [its] disaster preparedness function. … In fact, FEMA employees have been directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission.”

Holdeman praised James Lee Witt, director of FEMA under Clinton, for “showing a serious regard for the cost of natural disasters in both economic impact and lives lost or disrupted.” In the ’90s, Witt had developed a plan for just such a New Orleans disaster that would have pre-deployed hospital ships and ships with pumps to remove water from the city. According to Knight Ridder, federal officials said a hospital ship was prepared to leave Baltimore on September 2—four days after the hurricane.
Private profits, public risk

Why was the federal government so poorly prepared for a disaster on the Gulf Coast?

In June 2004, FEMA privatized its hurricane disaster plan for New Orleans, contracting the work to the Baton Rouge, La., firm Innovative Emergency Management (IEM) whose motto is “Managing Risk in a Complex World.”

IEM announced the contract on its Web site on June 3, 2004, trumpeting that the company “will lead the development of a catastrophic hurricane disaster plan for Southeast Louisiana and the City of New Orleans under a more than half a million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).” But in the days after Katrina hit, the press release was removed from the company’s online press release archives, as China Mieville noted on the blog Lenin’s Tomb.

IEM Director of Homeland Security Wayne Thomas told the magazine Biz New Orleans, “Given this area’s vulnerability, unique geographic location and elevation, and troubled escape routes, a plan that facilitates a rapid and effective hurricane response and recovery is critical. The IEM team’s approach to catastrophic planning meets the challenges associated with integrating multi-jurisdictional needs and capabilities into an effective plan for addressing catastrophic hurricane strikes, as well as man-made catastrophic events.”

As Mieville opined, “So, the IEM team’s approach isn’t to siphon off tax money, spout management ****, provide a demonstrably catastrophically inadequate plan, then **** off like craven ******* caveworms and hide the evidence when the ******* corpses start piling up?”
New Orleans’ levees left behind

For years, Louisiana and the Army Corps of Engineers have tried to get funding to shore up New Orleans’ levees.

In 2004, funding cutbacks stopped major work on New Orleans’ east bank hurricane levees, the ones that collapsed, for the first time in 37 years. In 2004, the Army Corps requested $11 million for work on the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project, Bush requested $3 million and Congress approved $5.5 million. In 2005, the Army Corps requested $22.5 million, Bush requested $3.9 million and Congress approved $5.7 million. In 2006, Bush requested $2.9 million.

On June 8, 2004, after the Army Corps of Engineers’ budget for levee construction in New Orleans had been cut severely, Walter Maestri, the emergency management chief of Jefferson Parish, told reporters, “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.”

And pay they have.

According to Wonkette, a Washington D.C.-based blog, a source at the Environmental Protection Agency had this to say about flooded New Orleans:

“We’re naming it Lake George, ‘cause it’s his frickin’ fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects’ funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3. The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov’t diverted 80 percent of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq. … This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions.”

Not every one is so pessimistic. When George Bush looks at New Orleans he sees a city half full. “The good news is—and it is hard for some to see it now—that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before,” he told reporters on Friday. “Out of the rubble of Trent Lott’s house—the guy lost his entire house—there’s going to be a fantastic house. I look forward to sitting on the porch.”
 

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It keeps getting better.

Yesterday CBS News reported that the Mike Brown, the architect of the FEMA response (or lack thereof) for Katrina, was rehired as a consultant to FEMA.

I guess he hadn't finished destroying FEMA, so they brought him back to consult on how best to finish his job. :mad:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If they build something like what they did in the Netherlands - there wouldn't be an issue if it was under sea level or not.

The pumps...levee's are all antiquated in design - IF the federal government did cut the budgets and decide they didn't want to design for Cat 5 then shame on them for not helping out with the infrastructure. I'm not saying the City isn't to blame, but there are other cities around the area and New Orleans alone can't foot the bill...so the State should have or be kicking in. I know LA politics are pretty corrupt and if that is what lead to part of this demise...shame on them too.
 

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I read something in the paper that mentioned turning New Orleans effectively into an island; allowing the Mississippi to flow around it on both sides somehow and replenish the wetlands. I thought that was an interesting idea.
 

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TechnoKäfer said:
I read something in the paper that mentioned turning New Orleans effectively into an island; allowing the Mississippi to flow around it on both sides somehow and replenish the wetlands. I thought that was an interesting idea.
The theory behind that is that the marshlands that have been filled in to make land for houses and whatnot in the Mississippi delta region, would lessen the impact of Hurricanes. There have been hurricanes that have hit NOLA since its founding. It has been since the expansion of the city into former swampland that has caused the impact of the Hurricanes to be more devastating.

It is the same principle with the barrier islands along the Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina coasts.

Those barrier islands act as a buffer, if you will, between the open water of the Gulf, or Atlantic and the mainland. They slow the storm surges, and reduce flooding of the mainland.

It is the destruction of these habitats that increase the likelyhood of damage where they previously existed.
 

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PhoenixRising said:
A lot of people think, that New Orleans should be not brought back.

Or at the very least, built up higher. Maybe a very high wall..

I am thinking, that I would hate to spend all that money, on a rebuilding project, just to see the city get hit again...
I'm one of those people. It's kind of like putting an iceberg in the middle of downtow Miami, it aint gonna last.
But since they are, they should atleast put a HUGE dome over the entire area and call it New Atlantis.
 

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So - are you ready to pay the extra 25% for fuel and goods that will no longer have a port or a home...or workers to make sure the rest of the US recieves these?

N.O. is there for a reason and they should spend the money to make it non-leaky.
 

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I don't believe any have...because there are no other ports at the mouth of the Mississippi. It'a about location, location, location...

Again, N.O. is there because of it's location - therefore it is a victim of its location as well.
 

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73standard said:
Do you keep charts and graphs on you of New Orleans?
Statement does not make sense....thank you.


TJ - I'm sure if it happened back then it wouldn't be there - but the fact is that it HAS lasted the test of time and only recently with the changes of the wetland buffers and depletion of funds for ongoing maintance has left the city vunerable. Now I will admit that it isn't all Bush's fault...because I'm sure there was alot that wasn't done by state and local officials over the years - but the money that was earmarked DID get diverted just before the BIG ONE hit so it points the finger at the current administrations shortcomings and bad policies.
 

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marvins_dad said:
Statement does not make sense....thank you.


TJ - I'm sure if it happened back then it wouldn't be there - but the fact is that it HAS lasted the test of time and only recently with the changes of the wetland buffers and depletion of funds for ongoing maintance has left the city vunerable. Now I will admit that it isn't all Bush's fault...because I'm sure there was alot that wasn't done by state and local officials over the years - but the money that was earmarked DID get diverted just before the BIG ONE hit so it points the finger at the current administrations shortcomings and bad policies.
Ah. Well, what I would like to see (again, this is MHO), is that somehow, the city get re-built, but not in the same area/same way.

It just seems foolish to rebuild the city in the same way as it was. That would seem to be asking for trouble.
 

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To be fair I searched and found this article....
73 - love ya on the other boards, but if you are going to debate...debate - don't just do the Monty Python's Argument game - show us some proof.

Posted on Sun, Sep. 04, 2005

New Orleans must be moved, some say

PAUL NUSSBAUM

Knight Ridder Newspapers

When New Orleans emerges from Katrina's floodwaters and begins to plan for its future, how will engineers and planners make the new city less susceptible to wind and water?

"The really difficult question is, 'how much do you want to spend to make it how safe?' " said John E. Durrant, managing director of engineering programs for the American Society of Civil Engineers.

If residents return to the current site - and there are those who say it's a fool's errand to do so - they can build higher levees. They can build floodwalls around historical neighborhoods. They can elevate homes and offices and highways. They can restore protective wetlands.

But, given New Orleans' location and nature's powerful capriciousness, they cannot guarantee that history won't repeat itself.

The below-sea-level city is hemmed in by 300-square-mile Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River to the south and west. Built on newly deposited alluvial soil, the city has been sinking ever since its founding in 1718. Draining land for development has made it sink even faster. Sea levels are rising. And the city lies in the regular path of hurricanes, which are in a cycle of increasing frequency.

"You can reduce the probability of disaster, but you can never reduce the risk to zero," said J. Richard Weggel, a former Army Corps of Engineers coastal engineer who is now an engineering professor at Drexel University.

"People tend to be tenacious. They say they want to go back and rebuild. But there's a very fine line between being tenacious and being stupid," said Weggel. "If you keep doing something over and over and expect different results, that can be stupid. But that's more a political issue than a technical one."

"As a realistic political and social question, you've got a lot of people for whom that city has always been home, and there is a powerful draw for people to go back," said James Schwab, a senior research associate at the American Planning Association in Chicago. "But go back to what?"

The technical issues are well known to New Orleans' engineers and public officials. They have long lobbied for more federal money to better protect the city and its cultural treasures and economic engines. But money for flood protection was cut in recent federal budgets; funding for Corps of Engineers construction projects in the New Orleans district fell by 44 percent from 2001 to 2005.

"The spending on the infrastructure there was simply inadequate," said Durrant.

There are national implications to weigh in protecting New Orleans. Beyond the French Quarter and other historical attractions, the New Orleans area is home to one-fourth of the nation's oil and natural-gas production, and one-third of its seafood catch. The region is home to the nation's largest port complex, moving 16 percent of America's cargo.

"New Orleans shows how interdependent we are as a country," said Durrant. "New Orleans is important for the nation, not just the inhabitants there."

"We must rebuild. We must rebuild the city that gave us jazz and music and multiculturalism," former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial, now president of the Urban League, said on NBC's "Today" show.

"The administration and Congress must be committed to providing the resources necessary to rebuild the Gulf Coast and strengthen it for the future," Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu wrote Thursday.

Before Katrina, engineers estimated it could take at least $1 billion and 20 years to build floodgates at the mouth of Lake Pontchartrain and raise levees high enough to protect the city against a Category 5 hurricane. Now that existing levees have been ruptured and eroded, construction costs will be much higher.

To restore vanishing wetlands that would help absorb the storm surges from hurricanes could cost $14 billion over 30 years.

And those are just costs for protecting the city. Rebuilding the homes and businesses and industries and roads and utilities will cost many billions more.

"There is no precedent in modern American history for the cost of the undertaking we're going to get into," Schwab said.

Water-damaged structures will have to be replaced, and perhaps elevated on stilts or newly added fill. Interstate 10 and other highways could be elevated, too, and combined with floodwall construction. Water and sewer lines must be rebuilt and electrical lines replaced.

And the all-important pumps that are required to keep New Orleans dry will need to be repaired and better protected from storm threats.

"The real thing they need to do is isolate the pumps from damage so they can remain operational," said Weggel. In the wake of Katrina, all of New Orleans' pumping stations failed, leaving the city with no way to rid itself of the floodwaters.

When Michael Tritico was a biology student at Louisiana State University 30 years ago, he proposed creating a new New Orleans.

Appalled by the flooding damage he saw from Hurricane Betsy in 1965, he suggested moving much of the city. Rebuild it, he said, on higher ground on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, leaving behind only the relatively well-protected districts such as the French Quarter, the financial district and the Tulane University area.

"It would have cost 10 years worth of the flood-control budget of that day," Tritico said last week. "I gave the study to the office of state planning, and they laughed it off as pie-in-the-sky."

Tritico, 61, now an environmental consultant in Longville, La., still thinks New Orleans should be moved, and he blames public officials for not seriously contemplating such a shift.

"It would be a complete tragedy to rebuild a deathtrap," he said. "That's not a place for a city. I have to believe enough Americans will say, 'that place is gone, let's start over on high ground.' Let's not throw good money after bad."

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., drew angry responses last week when he said "it doesn't make sense to me" to spend billions rebuilding, adding that "it looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." Hastert later issued a statement saying he was not "advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated."

Engineers say there are few models to use in reconstructing and protecting New Orleans. While there are many coastal cities and many hurricane-imperiled cities, there are few below-sea-level cities that are sandwiched between a giant river and a vast lake. The Netherlands has a long history of developing low-lying land, and Bangladesh is a low country vulnerable to cyclones. Hilo, Hawaii, has experience in constructing buildings to limit flooding damage.

But New Orleans has all those problems, combined.

"It's a unique situation that is going to require some unique solutions," said Schwab. "We just don't have another city built that way. Thank God."
I think the areas at most risk are the ones that are the slum areas - if they wanted to expand New Orleans to a higher area, then, Yes! I say move some of the suburbs - but the French Quarter and downtown must be saved in their current location...along with the ports.
 
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