I was actually looking for something to talk about other than the hurricane, and I found this in the Science section of the Times. Some more info rolling in on the levee that failed:
In an interview last night, Mr. Naomi said the cuts had made it impossible to complete contracts for vital upgrades that were part of the long-term plan to renovate the system.
This week, amid news of the widening breach in the 17th Street Canal, he realized that the decadeslong string of near misses had ended.
“A breach under these conditions was ultimately not surprising,” he said last night. “I had hoped that we had overdesigned it to a point that it would not fail. But you can overdesign only so much, and then a failure has to come.”
No one expected that weak spot to be on a canal that, if anything, had received more attention and shoring up than many other spots in the region. It did not have broad berms, but it did have strong concrete walls.
Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, said that was particularly surprising because the break was “along a section that was just upgraded.”
“It did not have an earthen levee,” Dr. Penland said. “It had a vertical concrete wall several feel thick.”
The story also has this:
Since 2001, the Louisiana Congressional delegation had pushed for far more money for storm protection than the Bush administration has accepted. Now, Mr. Naomi said, all the quibbling over the storm budget, or even over full Category 5 protection, which would cost several billion dollars, seemed tragically absurd.
“It would take $2.5 billion to build a Category 5 protection system, and we’re talking about tens of billions in losses, all that lost productivity, and so many lost lives and injuries and personal trauma you’ll never get over,” Mr. Naomi said. “People will be scarred for life by this event.”
I don’t understand why the levee’s were not already at Cat 5 level, and I don’t understand why they hadn’t been there or under construction since Camille. And I am all for a debate on the spending priorities of this administration and congress, and I have no answers for the cuts in light of all the gigantic spending bills this congress and President have passed and signed.
But until we know what happened, and according to the information that keeps coming in, the cuts and unfinished projects had little to do with the actual failure, I would appreciate it if folks would cut the noxious attempts to pin this levee failure on Bush and this administration.
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