Thursday, September 01, 2005

Submitted Without Comment

What can I say?

From Editor & Publisher, extracted at Yahoo! News (emphasis mine):
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the
spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay."...


Annapolitan said...

Sure, armed gangs are roaming the streets of New Orleans, people are keeling over dead at the Superdome, snipers are firing on hospitals, the streets are littered with human waste and corpses...

But these folks are safe from al Qaeda!

Simon said...

Good thing it *wasn't* a terrorist attack, since it's obvious they haven't yet formulated a plan since the 2001 attacks to evacuate a major american city. (Or at least not a poor and mostly african-american one).

Isn't it weird they're talking about not spending the money rebuilding New Orleans, yet they'll spend the money to rebuild a city in Iraq?

Annapolitan said...

Nothing surprises me about this administration anymore. The head of FEMA says that the victims of this hurricane share some responsibility for their current situation. So now the administration's victim blaming begins.

I've read stories about New Orleans residents who wouldn't/couldn't leave ill, home-bound, or dying family members. I've read stories about poor people who simply didn't have the means to evacuate the city -- no money, no transportation, no place to go, nobody to stay with. Was New Orleans putting people on buses to evacuate them before the hurricane hit? Was there an organized effort to ship out those poor who simply didn't have a car gassed up and waiting? Something tells me there wasn't.

But of course, it's the fault of the victims that they didn't leave.

Kevin Wolf said...

Something as precious as a city like New Orleans belongs to all of us. I've no problem with my tax dollars flowing there. Certainly money better spent than on Halliburton - er, Iraq.