New Orleans, 2005

On the New York Times website today was an articleabout the failed effort by thousands of New Orleans residents to hold the Army Corps of Engineers resoponsible for the flood damage to the homes and properties affected by the three seperate levee breakages soon after Katrina.  Read the article, and read the Judge’s statement.  Though I approve of his language in chiding the Corps for a number of magnificent failures–both calculated and unknown, the fact that he was powerless to rule against the Corps on the basis of an 80 year old law (the Flood Control Act of 1928) is despicable.  For a state to forcibly divorce itself from any legal liability shows the real lack of public accountability that the U.S. Government has to its citizens…as though that hadn’t been proven a mere two days after the hurricane!

Read the judge’s dismissal order.  The flaccidity of the decision (due to the Flood Control Act) is genuinely depressing. 

In all seriousness, how else than by an unjust law can a passage like the one below occur in a dismissal order?

“This story–fifty years in the making–is heart-wrenching. Millions of dollars were squandered in building a levee system with respect to these outfall canals which was known to be inadequate by the Corps’ own calculations. The byzantine funding and appropriation methods for this undertaking were in large part a cause of this failure. In addition, the failure of Congress to oversee the building of the LPV and the failure to recognize that it was flawed from practically the outset–using the wrong calculations for storm surge, failing to take into account subsidence, failing to take into account issues of the strength of canal walls at the 17th Street Canal while allowing the scouring out of the canal–rest with those who are charged with oversight.

The cruel irony here is that the Corps cast a blind eye, either as a result of executive directives or bureaucratic parsimony, to flooding caused by drainage needs and until otherwise directed by Congress, solely focused on flooding caused by storm surge. Nonetheless, damage caused by either type of flooding is ultimately borne by the same public fisc. Such egregious myopia is a caricature of bureaucratic inefficiency.”

I’d write more of a complete reaction to this, but I really should get back to work…