| “No one can say they didn’t see it coming” – NP — Is this piling on?

In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war.

By Sidney Blumenthal

Aug. 31, 2005 | Biblical in its uncontrolled rage and scope, Hurricane Katrina has left millions of Americans to scavenge for food and shelter and hundreds to thousands reportedly dead. With its main levee broken, the evacuated city of New Orleans has become part of the Gulf of Mexico. But the damage wrought by the hurricane may not entirely be the result of an act of nature.

A year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to study how New Orleans could be protected from a catastrophic hurricane, but the Bush administration ordered that the research not be undertaken. After a flood killed six people in 1995, Congress created the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, in which the Corps of Engineers strengthened and renovated levees and pumping stations. In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in U.S., including a terrorist attack on New York City. But by 2003 the federal funding for the flood control project essentially dried up as it was drained into the Iraq war. In 2004, the Bush administration cut the Corps of Engineers’ request for holding back the waters of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans levees, but it was too late.

found first by R. Twentey

  1. Chris Vaughn says:

    You didn’t state to report John that the Lt. General of the Army Corps of Engineers stated last night that even tought the funding was cut – the increases and supports still wouldn’t have provided the necessary protection from a Cat 5 Hurricane. The levee system was built to sustain a Cat 3.

    While it is horribly tragic, and the lact of command on the ground is not acceptable, it seems that someone with your intelligence wouldn’t hop about the “Blame Bandwagon Express”…. you quote Sidney Blumenthal; YEAH! He’s an impartial spokesmen… You really went for the open mind here….

  2. site admin says:

    Hey, facts are facts. I listen to Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh too. I’m always amazed at how people want to listen to only the apologists for whatever side of the fence they think they are on without ever hearing the other side because it is somehow evil.. Salon by its nature is left of center. Big shock. So what? Are these ALL LIES?!?! What specifically is a lie?

    And I wouldn’t be on the blame wagon if there was something being done other than cliches and promises. This administration is utterly incompetent. Or do you call this mess “good work!”

  3. Adam says:

    We’re providing a live-Video feed mirror for a downtown blogger and I just noticed a fire has started up on the webcam

    feed here:

  4. Mister Mustard says:

    After Dumbay decimated FEMA, sent all the troops and equipment to Iraq, and went on his marathon vacation, did anyone expect anything different from the Feds? And igorning the plan to buttressing the levees proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers was the final nail in the coffin.

  5. Dan Moutal says:

    I do not think that it was Bush’s fault that the disaster in New Orleans was so bad, but rather it was many years of poor environmental policy.

  6. Brenda Helverson says:

    Sid Bluenthal is one of America’s best writers and he was right there during Clinton I. Sid is a reliable reporter of the facts and labels his opinions as opinions. Sid is not piling on.

    Maybe we could forgive Little bush for cutting levee funds, for gutting FEMA, for ordering the NO District of the Army Corps of Engineers to stop all flood control planning, and for sending Louisiana National Guard troops off on a fool’s errand. But who can forgive him for sitting in Crawford while Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf.

    It’s easy to predict that the response would be much different if Katrina had turned and devastated Houston. And wherever she is right now, Marie Antoinette looking at The Preznit and thinking “Even I could never be so heartless.”

  7. AB CD says:

    Blumenthal goes off onto all sorts of tangents after that. Somehow the FDA’s not OKing a morning-after pill is responsible too.

    Wetlands don’t have quite the benefit he claims if you don’t do smaller floods periodically, just like you need replenishing forest fires. Also, the levee broke at a part that had just been upgraded, so I doubt the 6 year study would have accomplished much.

  8. Boris says:


    well, for all you people who think that this is a partisan issue – and for those who are trying to frame it as one – I suggest seeking out some of the conservative commentators and seeing what they have to say about it. Plenty of conservative blogs out there. Plenty of reasons for conservatives to be totally pissed at our current administration for failing to maintain law and order (isn’t that one of the central tenants of conservatism?).

    I’ll throw out one that plays a central role in the blog community and that explans why Bush and Co. have royally screwed up. Read it with an open mind, if you’re capable of that. If not, don’t bother. In fact, don’t bother voting next election day, either.

    Also check out the series of articles that Scientific American has posted on the civil engineering issues involved with the levee system, etc. to better understand issues involved:


  9. Streklov says:

    Today is only the 4th day. While the response hasn’t been perfect, it hasn’t been that bad.

    That comment about the different response if Houston had been hit was pathetic. Why pick on Houston anyway. Houston and Texas have opened their arms to the people from N’awlins. There are over 100,000 refugees here now and the local residents are opening their homes to those that have no where else to go. Buffalo, Texas (pop. 1500) is housing refugees in their local auditorium. I don’t know of any other state that is doing anywhere near what Texans are doing.

    And stop with the crying about Bush and his vacation. Do you think that no work gets done while he is in Crawford? That they don’t have phones and all the accouterments of modern technology? Are you so naive that you think that they can only work while in Washington?

  10. TwelveTwo says:

    Wouldn’t be much of a vacation if he had to work during it.

  11. Edward Dinovo says:

    John Dvorak has been going on about the crumbling infrastructure in this country for how long? Guess what? Levees are infrastructure. This snafu is really just the end result of bad government that squanders surpluses on useless wars and tax cuts.

  12. Teyecoon says:

    “And stop with the crying about Bush and his vacation. Do you think that no work gets done while he is in Crawford?”

    It’s probably no less than he gets done in the White House. That is unless his work concerns a “Christian” based religious issue then he becomes super-activist and tackles the problem immediately as his God gives him the strength to work harder. 😛

  13. AB CD says:

    The levee broke in a part that had recently been upgraded. None of the proposed changes would have prevented this.

  14. Bryan says:

    I think the administration screwed up in innumerable ways here. I’m pissed at what they’ve done to FEMA. I’m pissed they cut spending to the levees. I’m really pissed that for days no one seemed able to get it together, establish a command post, knock heads, and get everyone moving in the same direction. If nothing else, someone could have taken a bullhorn down to the Superdome & Cenvention Center and led most of those people at a walk to the nearest Red Cross tent at the edge of the city.

    But these wouldn’t have been category 5-proof levees if Bush had decided that was his life’s first and only mission the moment he took office in 2000. That decision was made 40+ years ago.

    I’m pissed at the blame game and grandstanding throughout the system – Democrat as well as Republican. State, local, federal. From the President right down to every individual taxpayer, very few people made it a real priority to either build up that levee or have adequate plans for when it broke down. The river is the highest thing *on* that flood plain! There’s something seriously strange about putting a whole city in a bowl beneath a river.

    And I guess we’re gonna do it again.


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