I was leafing through the latest issue of Time at the Rouse’s checkout stand. Certainly there would be some breaking information about “Bat Boy” in it. I was very disappointed that he wasn’t featured in this issue, instead I found this great piece about New Orleans and the Corps of Engineers.

Honestly, if someone gets paid big dollars to work for Time and write rubbish-this blogger can certainly poke fun at it and point out some things she sees as obviously ridiculous and sadly almost humorous.
So here goes:

Time: The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn’t a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2.
Greta: Would this be a conspiracy theorist point of view? Man-made disaster? Pork-barrel politics – did someone forget how money is appropriated? Weak 2 – say wah?

Time: but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which bungled the levees that formed the city’s man-made defenses and ravaged the wetlands that once formed its natural defenses.
Greta: That is a mighty big finger to be pointing at a group that is lead by SOLDIERS!!!!

Time: and the Army Corps is running the show, with more money and power than ever.
Greta: Once again, a 5th grade Government lesson here that someone obviously slept through .

Time: If you liked Katrina, they say, you’ll love what’s coming next.
Greta: I love general “they” statements – excellent researched journalism. Is this a game? If it is – pick me to play!!!

Time: Before Katrina, the Corps was spending more in Louisiana than in any other state, but much of it was going to wasteful and destructive pork instead of protection for New Orleans; one Corps project actually intensified Katrina’s surge. After Katrina, a series of investigations ripped the Corps for building flimsy floodwalls in soggy soils, based on wildly flawed analyses—and shoddy engineering was only one way the Corps betrayed New Orleans.
Greta: Gee author – tell us how you feel about the Corps? I’m still not sure if you like them or not (cough* choke). Excellent use of inflammatory rhetoric. Bet your English teacher is proud!

Time: But in the long run, recovery plans won’t matter much if investors, insurers and homesick evacuees can’t trust the Corps to prevent the city from drowning again.
Greta: Oh ya -don’t I recall women being interviewed who saw Corps people tampering with the levee? That makes sense – destroy what you made so you get more work. These government employees are mighty smart! Maybe they’ll get bonuses for extra contracts!

Time: “Katrina wasn’t even close to the Big One,” says Louisiana State University (lsu) hurricane researcher Ivor van Heerden, author of the Katrina memoir The Storm. ”
Greta: Sounds like Fred Sanford to me. Always waiting for the “big one.” Oh yes, that particular researcher has a book out.

Time: But for all the talk about restoring wetlands, almost every dime of the $7 billion the Corps has received since Katrina is going to traditional engineering: huge structures designed to control rather than preserve nature.
Greta: Could the Corps do anything right in this authors’ eyes. Me thinkest – NO!

Time: Nothing has changed,” says G. Edward Dickey, a former Corps chief of planning. “It’s the same engineering mentality, except now they’ll build the levees even bigger.”
Greta: Hmmmm…..former?

Time: To prevent another disaster, the construction addicts of the Corps, their enablers in Congress and the U.S.’s cockamamie approach to water resources will all have to change. The Great Wall concept sounds a lot like the mistakes of the past.
Greta: Mr. Van Lohuizen must be the smartest person in the world. He obviously completely understands everything about New Orleans and the Corps and also has design ideas that are better that should be considered. Or maybe he is filled with hatred and negativity from a bad night on Bourbon Street in his earlier days?

Time: “They didn’t need hurricane levees,” says Kerry St. Pe, a marine biologist whose ancestors arrived in 1760. “They had wetlands to protect them.” New Orleans wasn’t on the coast, and hurricanes wilt over land.
Greta: I demand interviews with quotes from these ancestors!!!

Time: The Corps ordered communities to imprison the river in a narrow channel with a strict “levees only” policy, rejecting calls to give the river room to spread out. So levees rose, and the Corps repeatedly declared the river floodproof. But the constrained river also rose, and its jailbreaks repeatedly proved the Corps wrong. In the epic flood of 1927, crevasses shredded the entire valley and nearly destroyed New Orleans.
Greta: 50 lashes with a wet noodle to every Corps employee past & present!

Time: Congress rewarded this failure by allowing the Corps to seize control of the entire river and its tributaries, an unprecedented Big Government project that foreshadowed the New Deal and established the Corps as the U.S.’s manipulator of water and manhandler of nature.
Greta: All those people working at the Corps must have a hidden agenda…I am almost sure of it after reading this article.

Time: So there’s little new land-building material to offset the natural erosion of the coast, much less the unnatural rising of the sea fueled by global warming.
Greta: Is this AL Gore’s pen-name? I need a new SUV!

Time: Shortly before Katrina, Mashriqui called it a “critical and fundamental flaw” in New Orleans’ defenses; after Katrina, his modeling found that the outlet boosted Katrina’s surge 2 ft. (0.6 m) and increased its velocity 10-fold, overwhelming St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward. “This was a disaster created by the Corps,” Mashriqui says.
Greta: I love environmentalists *sigh*

Time: The Corps then made such egregious engineering errors that it wasn’t even ready for a smaller storm. For example, its levees sagged as much as 5 ft. (1.5 m) lower than their design because the Corps miscalculated sea level and then failed to adjust for subsidence. Some were built in soils with the stability of oatmeal. “These were inexcusable, lethal mistakes,” says University of California, Berkeley, engineering professor Robert Bea, who led a post-Katrina investigation for the National Science Foundation.
Greta: I love people who criticize to the point of such vile hatred. They are so warm and fuzzy.

Time: “That should be the first lesson: build levees around people, not around wetlands,” says Paul Harrison of Environmental Defense.
Greta: Surely nobody would complain with a new scenic view of a massive levee in their front yard – or better yet a fortress. Then I think the Corps would be criticized for poor beautification designs.

Time: The basic problem is that protecting New Orleans from deadly storms was never anyone’s top priority.
Greta: Grrrrrrr……I am sure all the people out there over the years sweating in the heat to help protect this city – really would appreciate that. Why don’t you send each and every one of them a greeting card that says “you never did anything good at your job.”

Time: “We can beat ourselves up about the past—or we can use the past to do business differently in the future,” says Corps Colonel Jeffrey Bedey, who is now overseeing construction of, yes, huge pumps and floodgates along Lake Pontchartrain. “I don’t just mean we the Corps. I mean we the country.”
Greta: Don’t worry Colonel Bedey – The Corps would be beat up by this author if you made him the King of Mardi Gras and gave him 5 million dollars & classified information about “Bat Boy.”

Time: Pam Dashiell, a community activist in the Lower Ninth Ward, fought for years against the Gulf Outlet and the Industrial Canal lock, lobbying Corps officials and Louisiana politicians to focus on safety instead. But both projects were on the wish list of the port, the city’s most powerful interest. Dashiell remembers the hostility of Congressmen like Democrat William Jefferson, now indicted on corruption charges, and Republican David Vitter, now embroiled in a prostitution scandal. “They said I was an obstructionist,” she says. “I was like, Where are your priorities?'”
Greta: Though not real happy with Freezer & Vitter – I am pretty darn sure they didn’t have enough power to single-handedly convince the world that Ms. Dashiell’s project should be completed.

Time: The Corps is funded almost exclusively by earmarks, individual slices of pork requested by individual Congressmen.
Greta: earmarks & pork & the Corps…oh my!

Time: President Bush keeps proposing zero funding for most of the Corps projects that taxpayer and environmental groups hate, but Congress continues to fund them anyway.
Greta: The author and Time Magazine are actually suggesting the President is doing something right?

Time: “It’s a sinister system,” says American Water Resources Association president Gerry Galloway, a former Army brigadier general who is now a visiting scholar at the Corps. “Water is a national-security issue, but we treat it like the Wild West. The big guns get the money.”
Greta: Was this taken out of context to make the author feel like he had a General in his back pocket? Read between the lines people.

Time: Katrina didn’t change that system. Louisiana Senators Vitter and Mary Landrieu promptly proposed a bloated quarter-trillion-dollar Louisiana reconstruction bill, drafted by lobbyists for oil, shipping and other corporate interests.
Greta: As my parents would say, “Those dirty politicians!”

Time: Some engineers believe the new levees are still too short and weak—”They’re a frigging disgrace,” U.C. Berkeley’s Bea says—and the new pumps repeatedly malfunctioned during testing.
Greta: I am starting to think he didn’t get any beads during Mardi Gras!

Time: The real controversies involve a separate study of Category 5 protection and restoration for the entire Louisiana coast. The initial plans floated by the Corps and its state partners proposed a Maginot Line of towering new levees that evoke the “levees only” policy that failed on the Mississippi River, this time seeking to confine the Gulf.
Greta: Why bother preparing for anything? All the damage was man-made…right?

Time: “I sit up at night and ask myself, Why the hell do you want to spend $1 billion on another levee?” says Jerome Zeringue, a biologist who runs the local levee district. “But if we don’t protect Dulac, there won’t be a Dulac.”
Greta: Great example of a rhetorical question – thanks.

Time: But Katrina and Rita wiped out 217 sq. mi. (562 sq km) of wetlands in a single month. And even Bush has acknowledged that without the coast, Louisiana is toast.
Greta: I thought the Corps did all the wetland wiping out….now I’m confused.

Time: And on Wednesday, the Bush Administration threatened to veto the “unaffordable” bill. Lieut. General Robert Van Antwerp, the new Corps commander, would like to see an independent commission recommending water projects outside the political process, like the one that advises military-base closures. But if New Orleans has to wait for an independent commission, it’s probably time to invest in scuba gear. “We’ve got to break the cycle,” Twilley says. “We’ve got to stop the political hacking. If we really want to go to the moon, we ought to go.”
Greta: Oh – so are we saying we want them to fix things or not? Or is this one of those “double-sided” swords?

Time: The scientists make the task sound simple: build New Orleans 500-year protection and restore its natural protection. Have the courage to cause inconvenience and economic harm to some in the name of protecting all. After all, Katrina was harmful too. Moving 30 million tons of debris was pretty inconvenient. And the next Katrina is a question of when, not if.
Greta: Say wha????

Time: Since Katrina, New Orleans has lost more than one-third of its population, and only two of St. Bernard Parish’s 26 child-care centers have reopened.
Greta: Why aren’t the Corps employees watching these children? After all….it is “their fault” the child-care centers were destroyed.

Time: “I look at this, and I think of the shortsighted people who crippled a great city,” Dashiell says. She knows that city needs better hospitals and more jobs. But first, better levees and more wetlands. Otherwise, it’s going to need an obituary.
Greta: Such a sunny way of looking at things….wouldn’t you say?
(c/p at NOLA.com)

3 Replies to “Bat Boy to save New Orleans from flooding!”

  1. Greta,
    When your life and the life of the city you love is on the line, pretending things are sunny doesn’t cut it. We need this nation to open its eyes to the real problems that exist in flood protection in south LA. In the last 50 years LA has lost coastal land equivalent to the state of Delaware. In the next 50 years it will lose the same amount if action is not taken now. We will have to agree to disagree on this subject. I will die defending my home from destruction. Perhaps once you have been here a while longer, you will begin to understand.

  2. Dr J – agree to disagree is fine. This is my home now too & when you step away from the pure emotions and realize that this Country is trying to help – maybe you will be happy. I guess my question to you is – what do you propose is done differently?

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