Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I drove my Chevee to the levee and the levee was gone?
I just read this article on NOLA.com. "A federal judge ruled today that the Army Corps of Engineers is immune under federal law from responsibility for damages resulting from the failure of drainage canal walls in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
The action apparently shields the agency from a portion of nearly 500,000 claims filed by New Orleans area homeowners, businesses and city agencies, many of whom navigated traffic jams around the corps' Uptown headquarters or waited in long lines to beat a deadline for filing the claims, totaling more than $3 quadrillion." (How many zeros does that have?)
I know the law suit never really had a chance because the precedent still stands that you can't sue the government. I'm also very aware that 3 quadrillion dollars (3,000,000,000,000,000) is a ridiculous number. And I also know that in a situation like Katrina, everyone is always looking for someone to blame. So without sounding like I'm in the blaming mode, I do have to say that I still just don't get it. They built levees they knew weren't up to the codes that they set for themselves. They even released a report in June of 2006 stating that they had made a "catastrophic error." The breaching of the levees, according to their own report was responsible for just over two thirds of the city's flooding. The city's defenses should have withstood the surge of the storm, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking scene of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks on end. We never would have heard the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie." FEMA was the scapegoat, but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Americans were outraged by the government's response, but they still haven't come to grips with the government's responsibility for the catastrophe.
Why should the citizens of Louisiana have to pay for any amount to repair the levees? We paid for it once already. Why should Louisana citizens have to pay for the incompetence of the Corps of Engineers? The Corps is completely at fault and no adverse actions have been taken against them as a result of the failures. We demand more from our sports teams than we do from the levee system that literally protects our lives. If LSU doesn't win, we call for change. (If you don't believe me watch at the end of the year when LSU fires its basketball coach). But the Corps has failed drastically and we are letting Congress and the administration give Louisianians a huge financial burden. Yet the same people who caused the failure are entrusted to design the new system and we are being asked to pay for it. The problem is that protecting New Orleans from storms was never anyone's top priority. I don't know, I guess I just wish that in this case, the king wasn't always right, because as it seems when he is always right, the people get screwed...