New Orleans and Iraq

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Angelus520, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. Angelus520 macrumors regular

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    #1
    As if we needed another reason to hate Shrub … oops, I mean Bush.


    Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? Wed Aug 31, 1:10 PM ET

    Published: August 30, 2005 9:00 PM ET


    PHILADELPHIA Even though Hurricane Katrina has moved well north of the city, the waters may still keep rising in New Orleans late on Tuesday. That's because Lake Pontchartrain continues to pour through a two-block-long break in the main levee, near the city's 17th Street Canal. With much of the Crescent City some 10 feet below sea level, the rising tide may not stop until it's level with the massive lake.

    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. 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. From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:

    "The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."

    The panel authorized that money, and on July 1, 2004, it had to pony up another $250,000 when it learned that stretches of the levee in Metairie had sunk by four feet. The agency had to pay for the work with higher property taxes. The levee board noted in October 2004 that the feds were also now not paying for a hoped-for $15 million project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.

    The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project -- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million -- was not enough to start any new jobs.

    There was, at the same time, a growing recognition that more research was needed to see what New Orleans must do to protect itself from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. But once again, the money was not there. As the Times-Picayune reported last Sept. 22:

    That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.

    The Senate was seeking to restore some of the SELA funding cuts for 2006. But now it's too late.

    One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

    The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, "The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House....In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need."

    Local officials are now saying, the article reported, that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, "the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be."


    Will Bunch (letters@editorandpublisher.com) is senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News. Much of this article also appears on his blog at that newspaper, Attytood.

    Read more at EditorandPublisher.com
    To subscribe to Editor & Publisher, click here.
     
  2. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #2
    Yeah, Bush really screwed this one up. And he's not recovering well, either. I think more than September 11, we can really blame the Bush administration for the scale of the tragedy. A couple links:

    New York Times Editorial Condemning Bush
    Kevin Drum's post on the mismanagement of FEMA that will make recovery a mess

    Bush is a lousy, lousy President. He screws up everything he touches. If it wasn't for September 11, he'd have been history long ago, but instead we get 8 years of this nonsense, and possibly a national economic catastrophe in the wake of Katrina.
     
  3. jrv3034 macrumors 6502a

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  4. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    #4
    I'm not a huge fan of Bush, and perhaps his policies did lead to issues with maintaining the flood control systems, but we're forgetting the real issue.

    New Orleans has been in an incredibly tenuous geographical location for quite some time. Most of it is below water level, and relying upon pumps and levees to keep a metropolitan area of significant size from flooding on a daily basis is a problem waiting to happen.

    If the levees had been repaired as scheduled, there's no guarantee that they wouldn't have failed under the pressure of Katrina. New Orleans would still be devastated.

    So while I'd like to blame Bush for this just because I don't like him, this has been a problem building for some time.
     
  5. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #5
    From a direct hit, maybe, but this was a glancing blow. The levees only failed after the hurricane had already passed through. Some of the work planned was on the very levees that failed.

    And let's not forget Bush's incompetent leadership after the fact or the fact that he's totally neglected FEMA for 5 years.
     
  6. drison macrumors regular

    drison

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    #6
    You guys have some pretty whacked thought processes. So we now blame the leader of a country for natural disasters. Gee, I guess he failed to pick up the phone and call God. </scratches head>
     
  7. emw macrumors G4

    emw

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    #7
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not forgiving Bush for years of incompetence on a number of fronts, but New Orleans, in my opinion, has been asking for trouble.

    Sure, this was a "glancing blow", but a glancing blow by a Cat 4 (almost Cat 5) hurricane is still significant, especially to a coastal area that's been fighting to stay dry every day for decades.
     
  8. SharksFan22 macrumors regular

    SharksFan22

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    #8
    Oh now, come on. Just last night I was talking with some friends about how we'll get to hear that it's Bush's fault for everything happening in New Orleans. What realistically, is the President supposed to do? I don't recall myself, but does anyone remember what Clinton did when the flooding in the Missouri area happened a few years ago?

    The root problem here is that New Orleans is/was a flood waiting to happen and finally it did. Here in California, I'm stunned by the people that cry when their houses slide down a hill in heavy rains every winter -- what did they expect?

    One thing missing from the article above is that while Bush may have proposed the budget with the reduced funds, the Congress approved it making them just as culpable as the President.
     
  9. aloofman macrumors 68020

    aloofman

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    #9
    I'm by no means a fan of Bush and I can find many, many reasons to dislike his policies. But blaming him for hurricane damage is ridiculous. New Orleans is in a vulnerable geographic location. Human intervention for shipping, oil extraction, and other development have caused erosion in the Mississippi River delta that removes some of the natural barriers to hurricanes and storm surges. All of these things were true long before you ever heard of GWB.

    As for underfunding flood control construction, the pilfering of public works funding has been going on for decades. Not just by the feds, not just by this Congress, and not just in New Orleans. It was only a matter of time before one of these underfunded locations sustained a major natural disaster. GWB is no more to blame for this underfunding than members of Congress, various government bureaucrats, the crazy no-tax lobby that thinks tax cuts will increase government revenue, irresponsible developers and industrialists, not to mention their predecessors in those positions for the last 50 years.

    Even if Bush had fully funded the Army Corps of Engineers' proposals for New Orleans from the day he entered office, would all of that work be finished five years later? Unlikely. Bush is no more responsible for the hurricane damage than Clinton was for the Northridge earthquake losses.

    There are so many legitimate reasons to oppose Bush. It baffles me that people feel the need to make things up.
     
  10. unfaded macrumors 6502

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    #10
    No one is blaming him for the hurricane.

    The fault lies where he took money from useful projects that could have lessened the impact of the hurricane, among many other useful projects, and took it and killed 100,000 people.

    That's the problem.
     
  11. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

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    #11
    Did you even read the article posted?
     
  12. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    #12
    Let's wait until the we see how the recovery efforts go until we judge whether Clinton or Bush does a better job handling natural disasters. So far, though, Bush's efforts have been pathetic. If you read Drum's article, linked above, I doubt you'll have much faith that things are going to get any better.
     
  13. Kmacripple macrumors member

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    #13
    Wow. I was wondering how long it would take for someone to blame Bush. Everything is apparently his fault. It was a natural disaster people. Levees can fail. It happens. Remember the flood in 1993 along the Mississippi when almost every levee failed. Geez.
     
  14. XNine macrumors 68040

    XNine

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    #14
    Word. Bush is a &&*^%@#$@$, but he can't really be completely blamed for all of this. For God's sake, Biloxi/Gulfport are just a couple feet above sea level, not a damn thing would have stopped this hurricane from doing what it did. New Orleans is BELOW sea level. That means all it takes is one giant hurricane to come through and the town is under water, oh, wait, it already is now because these problems weren't remedied YEARS ago.

    Come on now. These were known problems before Bush was ever in office. They should have been using federal funding MANY years ago. Blame the technicians and local government of Louisianna for this one, not Bush.
     
  15. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

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    #15
    Would they have failed if he hadn't undercut the budget? That's the question here.

    Bush placed priority in Iraq (which has nothing to do with 9/11) above all other tasks. The levees in NOLA were a victim of that prioritized budget.

    The question isn't whether or not Bush could have stopped the hurrican, but whether the carnage in NOLA could have been minimized with a properly-funded levee project.
     
  16. mrzeve macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Sigh.

    Would September 11th happened had Clinton not cut the Intelligence budget?
     
  17. XNine macrumors 68040

    XNine

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    #17
    No one's effort has been very effective. Why? BECAUSE NEW ORLEANS IS UNDER &*^% WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's become a giant lake. You can't send the national guard in expecting them to get things done in a timely and organized fashion with looters, dead bodies floating around, people shooting at helicopters and police, people still needing help OUT of buildings and water, all the while that you still have to evacuate these THOUSANDS of people before they all get infected by rampant diseases, or kill each other.

    Jesus. I hate Bush as much as the next guy, but give it a break.
     
  18. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

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    #18
    An equally fair question, but consider this: The White House (and, more specifically, the Bush Administration) had more evidence that Al Qaeda was planning to use planes as guided missles than they did supporting the case against Iraq.
     
  19. SharksFan22 macrumors regular

    SharksFan22

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    #19
    Perhaps. In my neck of the woods, we have a similar argument about earthquakes. I take the position that I choose to live here and run the risk of an earthquake that WILL happen someday and I should be prepared.

    But, how come people keep forgetting that the President proposes a budget and the Congress approves it. All of Congress (well at least those that voted for it) should be held just as accountable as the President in good times and bad. Sure, Bush proposed it, but he didn't approve it.
     
  20. 3rdpath macrumors 68000

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    #20
    i find my outrage growing over the pathetic preperation and response by FEMA and our political leaders in general.

    i certainly can't blame anyone for the hurricane but lets face it, this wasn't an earthquake...there was time to plan. everyone has known about new orlean's precarious location since it was founded. the fact that so little food,water and medical attention has made it to the area is inexcusible.

    and i'll go out on a limb here and tell you why so little has been done...because the majority of those affected ( in new orleans) are poor, uneducated and black. they couldn't leave town because they had no means of transportation and no where to go. mandatory evacuation means nothing if you have no way to do it...where was the help? how come the superdome was so poorly stocked with supplies and facilities? there should have been huge food drops across that city by now.

    its not my intention to politicise this but surely the resources, manpower and logistical expertise that we're wasting in iraq could have been used for a more local purpose.
     
  21. ChrisFromCanada macrumors 65816

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    #21
    What exactly do you define as the case against Iraq?

    WMD's?

    Do you have any proof to back your claim?
     
  22. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

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    #22
    I think we all have to live with that. Here in Huntsville, it's tornadoes. California has earthquakes, the north has blizzards, and the Atlantic/Gulf states have hurricanes.

    When Huntsville lost their National Weather Service (NWS) office and the gov't proposed budget cuts, though, the local media was all over it. The budget cuts failed and the NWS made a return after a few year of us depending on Nashville and Birmingham for NWS services.

    I agree, even if it's beside the point. :)
     
  23. drison macrumors regular

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    #23
    Yes I did, but this is all speculation. No one could have predicted that on this date in 2005 a major hurricane would wipe out New Orleans. So, we are looking back in hindsight and saying that it all rests on this one decision that a single man made and I really don't think that is fair to anyone regardless of status.

    Okay, so he made a decision to engage in war and I'll listen to that argument. But no one would have known this would happen. I suppose that from now on whenever anything bad happens in the world, we can look at history and find someone to blame who didn't alter the course of history making it not happen. That just doesn't compute.

    And lastly, sorry if I offended anyone with the comment about the thought processes. I was just a bit taken aback by the logic used to come to these conclusions.
     
  24. ChrisFromCanada macrumors 65816

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    #24
    That is a VERY bold assumption, and a very sweeping generalization.

    I also personally find what you are saying here to be very racist and inaccurate of what the situation actually is. You probably shouldn't be making assumptions like that.

    Also to the original poster, saying we hate Bush is an inaccurate statement because not everyone at MR hates Bush as you can see in this thread.
     
  25. wordmunger macrumors 603

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    #25
    Please. Read the Kevin Drum article I linked to.

    Do you really think the recovery effort will be managed better by one of Bush's political appointments than someone with years of experience in construction management? Do you really think that the recovery will go better when Bush has systematically dismantled FEMA? Do you really think "Lake New Orleans" will be pumped out faster with the antiquated pumps there now than the new ones that Bush cut from the budget?

    What if some planning had been done BEFORE the disaster? What if, for example, hospitals had been evacuated in advance, instead of leaving doctors with no power and water and patients lying in their own excrement. What if, God forbid, buses had been provided to evacuate those who had no cars? Do you think maybe the job could have been done slightly better than it was?

    I understand giving people a break, but Bush was taking a vacation while the hurricane of the century was bearing down on the flood target of the century. I think Bush has had his share of breaks. I, for one, am ready to stop giving the man a break.
     

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