Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Another war casualty?

In 1995 Congress authorized a massive levee project to protect New Orleans from a catastrophic storm such as Katrina. $430 million was spent by the Army Corps of Engineers between then and 2003. $250 million remained to finish the work. Then the funds dried up. According to an article in today's Washington Post:

"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. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.'

Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for."

What will probably happen now is George Bush will stride onto the stage and portray himself as the strong and macho leader who'll make things right for the people of New Orleans. Most of the sheep-like populace of the country will feel reassured and go back to watching TV. Gas prices will skyrocket even more than they would have without the disaster and the oil barons will rub their hands in glee.

I'd say it's a little late to make amends to the people floating face down in the oily waters of Lake Ponchartrain that now inundate New Orleans. $250 million could have prevented it. $250 million dollars is about what one of those bunker bombs we hit Baghdad with costs.


At 5:56 AM, Blogger DetroitGirl said...

Perhaps the only "good" that might possibly come from this horrific disaster is that people (including media pundits) will have looked into the face of poverty and noticed that pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is quite impossible if you don't have shoes.

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