President Bush on Good Morning America today
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did appreciate a serious storm but these levees got breached and as a result much of New Orleans is flooded and now we're having to deal with it and will,"
Excuse me? This is an obvious lie as I just reported yesterday that experts forseen this disaster happening in New Orleans years ago.
In the event of a slow-moving Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane (with winds up to or exceeding 155 miles per hour), it's possible that only those crow's nests would remain above the water level. Such a storm, plowing over the lake, could generate a 20-foot surge that would easily overwhelm the levees of New Orleans, which only protect against a hybrid Category 2 or Category 3 storm (with winds up to about 110 miles per hour and a storm surge up to 12 feet). Soon the geographical "bowl" of the Crescent City would fill up with the waters of the lake, leaving those unable to evacuate with little option but to cluster on rooftops -- terrain they would have to share with hungry rats, fire ants, nutria, snakes, and perhaps alligators. The water itself would become a festering stew of sewage, gasoline, refinery chemicals, and debris.In case you need more proof that Bush isn't being straight with the American people, one only needs to take a look at the archives of the New Orleans local newspaper.
For the first time in 37 years, federal budget cuts have all but stopped major work on the New Orleans area's east bank hurricane levees, a complex network of concrete walls, metal gates and giant earthen berms that won't be finished for at least another decade.
"I guess people look around and think there's a complete system in place, that we're just out here trying to put icing on the cake," said Mervin Morehiser, who manages the "Lake Pontchartrain and vicinity" levee project for the Army Corps of Engineers. "And we aren't saying that the sky is falling, but people should know that this is a work in progress, and there's more important work yet to do before there is a complete system in place."
"I can't tell you exactly what that could mean this hurricane season if we get a major storm," Naomi said. "It would depend on the path and speed of the storm, the angle that it hits us.
"But I can tell you that we would be better off if the levees were raised, . . . and I think it's important and only fair that those people who live behind the levee know the status of these projects."
The Bush administration's proposed fiscal 2005 budget includes only $3.9 million for the east bank hurricane project. Congress likely will increase that amount, although last year it bumped up the administration's $3 million proposal only to $5.5 million.
"I needed $11 million this year, and I got $5.5 million," Naomi said. "I need $22.5 million next year to do everything that needs doing, and the first $4.5 million of that will go to pay four contractors who couldn't get paid this year."
The challenge now, said emergency management chiefs Walter Maestri in Jefferson Parish and Terry Tullier in New Orleans, is for southeast Louisiana somehow to persuade those who control federal spending that protection from major storms and flooding are matters of homeland security.
"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," Maestri said. "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."
Levee-raising is only part of the flood-related work that has stopped since the federal government began reducing Corps of Engineers appropriations in 2001, as more money was diverted to homeland security, the fight against terrorism and the war in Iraq.