They Really Really Don’t Care About New Orleans — US Accepts Repairs to Floodwalls Made of Used Newspaper

The tragedy of New Orleans continues.

4 Investigates: Floodwalls stuffed with newspaper?

the witness says two years ago, he saw the contractor filling the expansion joint or opening between the floodwalls with newspaper.

“The whole length of the wall was stuffed with newspaper.”

And when he confronted the contractor, the contractor blamed Washington for the substandard work.

“He basically told me when Congress sent down the money, it would be repaired the proper way.”

But during a recent trip to the area, two years later, it was apparent that didn't happen. Much of the newspaper had deteriorated or been eaten by bugs, but some still remained.

And, by the way, Congress had sent the money, and the contract called for a proper rubber joint. The Army Corps of Engineers, which is supposed to supervise the construction, says everything is just fine, nothing to see, move along now.

Does anyone in DC care about this stuff? Or have they just written New Orleans off?

How does an administration get away with presiding over the destruction of a major American city, botching the emergency rescue and then not fixing it afterwards? Sorry — silly question: they do it the same way they get away with a war of choice based on lies, torture, stealing an election, refusals to appear before Congress, signing statements that announce their plans to ignore the laws, and siphoning of several fortunes to their friends.


“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

ATTRIBUTION: The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.


Still a Republic, or devolved to a revolving monarchy? The next few years may decide it.

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8 Responses to They Really Really Don’t Care About New Orleans — US Accepts Repairs to Floodwalls Made of Used Newspaper

  1. Jason says:

    You get an C on Post Titling…the proper title would “They Really Really Don’t Care About Us Enough to Even PRETEND — US Accepts Repairs to Floodwalls Made of Used Newspaper”

  2. DBC says:

    Aren’t we really just talking about the difference between using a band-aid and duct tape here? The city is SINKING, it has been sinking and will continue to do so. That happens when you dry out marshland. Whether it’s this year or 20 years from now the place is going to get hit by a hurricane again and flood again. We should be offering people assistance to move elsewhere and start a new life. If New Orleans thinks it can make a go of it by building bigger walls and pumps that’s their prerogative.

    Just more short term fixes that don’t address long term problems, reflective of our entire government really.

  3. doctorj says:

    DBC,
    New Orleanians are NOT moving anywhere. What became clear to me after the storm is that I would rather die in my city, where people KNOW how to enjoy the small things and love one another, than in America where values are so screwed up and EVERYTHING, including people and cities,is disposable. NO THANK YOU! We know better than anybody our country abandoned us. WE will rebuild our city with the resources we have, no thanks to the glorious richest most powerful most screwed up country in the world. We are on our own and so are you. The only difference is that we know it.

  4. Steve says:

    doctorj: I’m not one of those people who say New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt or that it somehow had it coming. However, perhaps it’s time to think about how the city’s population is distributed with respect to risk.

    As Times-Picayune reporters John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein point out in their book Path of Destruction, it’s extremely difficult to build adequate flood protection on soil which is basically muck and decaying vegetable matter — it’s going to subside no matter what you do. I’m not a civil engineer but my understanding is that going down to bedrock isn’t really feasible on alluvium. Building artificial levees and floodwalls is not sustainable, at least given present day or forseeable technology. Even if it is, it may not be ecologically responsible to do so. Consider, for instance, the ecological damage done by the Dutch in their Delta Works:

    http://www.nola.com/speced/ruinandrecovery/t-p/index.ssf?/speced/ruinandrecovery/articles/day3.html

    So, what to do?

    Tulane and Xavier University scholar Richard Campanella points out in his study Above-Sea-Level New Orleans: The Residential Capacity of Orleans Parish’s Higher Ground found here:

    http://kerrn.org/pdf/campanellaaslno.pdf

    that with a little clever urban planning and infilling, virtually all of New Orleans’s population could be adequately housed in regions completely above sea level and out of harms way naturally, no haphazard, incompetently engineered US Army Corps of Engineers levees or floodwalls required.

    How about it?

  5. vacations says:

    Bush destroyed New Orleans huh? Bush chose to not rescue the people that decided to stay in New Orleans huh?

    I’m from, and in, New Orleans. You have NO CLUE!!!!!!

    You are just using this crap to attack Bush, and any other republican. Pretty pathetic man.

    george

  6. Steve says:

    george: You may be from New Orleans but I suspect that this non-New Orleanean has more of a clue than you do. First, I don’t think anyone said “Bush destroyed New Orleans” other than you. He didn’t. The US Army Corps of Engineers did by building substandard floodwalls and levees.

    Don’t believe me? How about the National Science Foundation and the Independent Levee Investigation Team, an engineering crime which dates back across many administrations.

    Having said that, the Bush Administration clearly botched the rescue of New Orleans and the levee repairs.

    As for people who “decided” to stay in New Orleans — well, maybe some of them did but if you read either Ivor van Heerden’s The Storm or John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein’s Path of Destruction, you will realize that those who stayed often had no choice. They had no vehicle, they were infirm, sometimes bedridden, and alone. The poorest of the poor.

    Did the Bush Administration destroy New Orleans? No. But it was on their watch and it was their responsibility as our national government and elected representatives to make New Olreans whole again.

    And that, they clearly haven’t.

    And for that, they should be held accountable.

    And lest you consider this a partisan attack, let me say that if a Democratic Administration screwed up as monumentally as this one did, I’d be right at the front of the line, chucking brickbats at them, too.

  7. Thomas says:

    What’s this bit about “presiding over the destruction of a major American city”? Do you mean to hold the administration responsible for the flooding in New Orleans, or not? These are weasel words. Say what you mean, if you can.

    It seems to me that there is a Democratic administration somewhere along the line responsible for the construction of the faulty levees. Surely the destruction is their responsibility, and yours.

    As for administration oversight of the Corp of Engineers: the Bush administration tried that, and failed, just like everyone else. See, e.g., this from slate in 2003:

    Over the years, the corps has become a true rogue agency, operating virtually independently of its supposed bosses in the executive branch, taking marching orders almost exclusively from the congressional porkers who lard its budget with their pet projects. The corps has clashed with every president since Franklin Roosevelt, and it has won almost every battle, thanks to its protection racket on Capitol Hill. In 2000, for example, after corps leaders were caught manipulating an economic study in order to justify a billion-dollar Mississippi River project and devising a secret “Program Growth Initiative” in order to boost their budget by 50 percent, the Clinton administration tried to issue a few mild guidelines reminding them to obey civilian authorities. But a few powerful senators vowed that the guidelines would not stand, so the administration withdrew them a week later.

  8. Michael says:

    What’s this bit about “presiding over the destruction of a major American city”?

    I think it’s fair to note that there’s plenty of blame to go round for the failure to prepare for the disaster. I think it’s also fair to note that almost all the blame for the short run failure to cope belongs to the Bush administration (we can share a little with the state/local folks, especially for the first day or two), and without question all the blame for the long run failure to rebuild belongs to the national government, which again is primarily the Bush administration in this case since they both set the budgets and administered the work.

    So, perhaps I should have written, “played guitar while a disaster unfolded, did almost nothing to mitigate its effects (and indeed may have worsened them), and has presided over a failure to rebuild.” Is that better?

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