Friday, June 09, 2006
Corps Takes Responsibility
On June 1 something amazing happened, and it wasn't at our anniversary party. The Army Corps of Engineers took full responsibility for the destruction of New Orleans. Prior to this they hinted that the flood waters overtopped the levees. However, thankfully now they have come clean, and admitted that the levee walls were pushed back due to design flaws and poor maintenance. Their massive report took 8 months, and cost $20 million. Ed Link, who headed the task force, said "We say this was a system failure in that the system designed to protect New Orleans failed on many levels, but it also shows how the system -- the business model -- we use to build these things is so flawed. The way we determine need, assess risk and go about funding and approving these things is based on a model that might have been appropriate for the way we lived 50 years ago, but is sorely outdated today." Link said that Congress insists the corps to use an "American business model" that does not use human lives in the equation to measure the cost of projects. This business model also does not adapt easily to changing environmental issues. Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the corps, said that his agency would accept ultimate responsibility. He said that this was the first failure in the corps history. "This has been sobering for us, because it's the first time the corps has had to stand up and say we had a catastrophic failure with one of our projects," Strock said, and that issue "weighed heavily on our minds." The Times-Picayune was one of only a few news outlets to cover this story. Why is this important? The federal government is ultimately responsible for the tragedy that took place in New Orleans, and as part of this accountability, they need to do more to help us get back on our feet.