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September 23, 2005

Should have known: Industrial Canal vs. Orleans-Jefferson

I'm too upset to add anything. I hope the intrepid reporters at the Times Picayune won't mind if I "syndicate" this article:

Rodriguez blasts Corps' repair job
Friday, 8:21 p.m.

St. Bernard Parish President Henry "Junior'' Rodriguez wasn't surprised that the surge from Hurricane Rita poured through an area of the Industrial Canal levee that the Corps of Engineers had tried to repair after Hurricane Katrina.

Breaches in the levee were largely responsible for massive flooding in the 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish last month during Katrina. And as Rita's waters began filling the 9th Ward and threatened St. Bernard Parish with another round of flooding Friday, Rodriguez let the corps have it.

Rodriguez said the repair job on the Industrial Canal levee was shoddy and accused the corps of exerting more of an effort to repair a breach on the 17th Street Canal at the Orleans-Jefferson parish line because it protects more wealthy neighborhoods than those in the 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

"It's rich and poor,'' Rodriguez told a WWL-TV reporter, adding that St. Bernard Parish and 9th Ward residents are treated like "second-class citizens.''

As of Friday night, the repair job on the 17th Street Canal breach was holding steady.

"Rita's having a hell of an impact,'' Rodriguez said. "But I can't really blame Rita.''

The T/P staff are my heros. They are living the ideals American journalism. My only regret is that I didn't have the privilege of meeting any of them while I was in New Orleans.


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If this blog had sound effects, you wouldn't believe the noises coming from this comment. Think Stygian.
They let it happen again. Again.

The more that they do this stuff the more they erode their base of support. The American people are fully aware that there is a class war goin on in this country and many now know where the line is drawn and they are realizing that they are on the "other" side.

I know lots of Bush supporters who are people of conscience and are dropping the support that they used to give him.

One of them is a Catholic Deacon and was horrified about the story that the National Guard troops in the ninth ward killed a 22 foot alligator today.

The estimated weight was about four tons. They said that it has been swimming slowly in that area because it was too old and slow to catch game and that it was feeding on humans.

He's not switching to the Democratic party by any means but he won't vote Republican anymore.

*However,* had the Times-Picayune been doing their job for the past five-ten years, instead of waiting until *now* to start asking the hard questions and pursuing leaderly corruption, they might not *have had* to be involved in such desperate work. Much as I hate the Union Leader, America's Worst Non-Syndicated Daily™, I think that if we were to get a repeat of the 30s hurricane flooding, with the Merrimack jumping its banks by 20', they would do a good job of covering it and reporting on the mess in southern NH with Apocalypse washing up on their doorsteps. But just as if the Boston Globe had paid proper attention *before* the Big Dig sprung a thousand-gallon leak, instead of waiting til after to notice that Bechtel had a rep for sloppiness, the local politicians paying cousins tens of thousands of dollars for non-existent jobs o it was not a joking matter to be ignored while going after the important stuff like parish closings, and baseball at Fenway - if they had at any time paid the same amount of curiosity and feretting to the obvious-tip-of-iceberg corruption going on in their midst - they might not *have* the problem of a giant pit of dubious safety that has eaten up untold sums of Bostoners' money and resources. Same goes for Mitt Romney etc - if they had had the killer instinct (instead of saving it up for their vendetta on Kerry) early enough, then more people up here wouldn't have been blindsided when he turned out to be a typical Rethug in Moderates' clothing. Like the old song goes, "It's a little too late/to do the right thing now."

I see the Times-Picayune reporters themselves have realized this, to a degree, in asking why the levees were allowed to get to this state, saying hard questions need to be asked, etc - does this mean that they will return to what a newspaper should be, guarding the guardians? and even if they do, is it too late for their city? To the last, I have no answer. It could very well be so.

I have to stand aside on this one- three weeks is very little time to fix a problem decades in the making. The luck of the storm could explain why one repair held and another gave way though I do not doubt that more attention was given to one breach and not the others- the question is why and we don't have a lot of information to go on there.
I'm willing to give the engineers themselves the benefit of the doubt but they receive orders from above and that is where I would concentrate my anger. I am also unwilling to give the media and the American people a free pass on this one. The McCarthesque White House has been given a lot of leeway to become the most corrupt government since Ulysses S. Grant. If we expect our elected administrators to be effective at their jobs, then why do we allow them to skate on their merits at election time? We need to nominate actual working presidents and not just decorative ones.

Hurricane experts at LSU have determined that the initial failure of the New Orleans levees in early September was due to bad engineering and repair, not the overwhelming force of Katrina.

We also know that the 9th Ward has been shafted when it comes to public works for all of living memory. I'm sure the Army Corps did its best in both places. But we'll have to wait and see how resources were allotted to the patch jobs.

It's harder to repair something that wasn't adequately maintained or well-designed to begin with. So, even if resources were equitably allocated for the patch job, the question remains whether the 9th Ward enjoyed a decent levee system to begin with.

We have to view the flood and the re-flooding in the context of larger neglect of the 9th Ward and the entire levee system of the city.

I look at it two ways, depending on how much disaster relief the federal government is shelling out:

1. If the fed is footing the bill for rebuilding, they are justified in minimizing the costs. If it is cheaper to save the rich properties and let the poor ones be destroyed, it is ok. If the rich neighborhood is so sparsely populated that the poor neighborhood would be more costly to rebuild, then save the poor neighborhood. If all will be made whole in the end, the fed can choose the most convenient way to do it.

2. If the fed is not willing to foot the bill for complete rebuilding, then they are obligated to do the most good for the most people. That would almost certainly entail doing their utmost to save the poorer neighborhood.

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