From "Government Saw Flood Risk but Not Levee Failure
" in tomorrow's Times
The response will be dissected for years. But on Thursday, disaster experts and frustrated officials said a crucial shortcoming may have been the failure to predict that the levees keeping Lake Pontchartrain out of the city would be breached, not just overflow...
While some in New Orleans fault FEMA - Terry Ebbert, homeland security director for New Orleans, called it a "hamstrung" bureaucracy - others say any blame should be more widely spread. Local, state and federal officials, for example, have cooperated on disaster planning. In 2000, they studied the impact of a fictional "Hurricane Zebra"; last year they drilled with "Hurricane Pam."
Neither exercise expected the levees to fail. "In an interview on "Good Morning America" Thursday, President Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." He added, "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."
they test what would happen if the levees failed? People knew it was possible.
WALTER MAYSTREE, EMERGENCY MANAGER: Many people who chose not leave are going to simply drown in their beds, and never even realize what happened.
JOHN ZARRELLA: On weekends, the town is jammed with tourists.
MAYSTREE: Very possible in that scenario that the French Quarter becomes one massive tomb.
ZARRELLA: History has forced New Orleans to try and protect itself. After 1965, when Hurricane Betsy killed 61 people and flooded New Orleans, the Army corps of engineers built hurricane levees and floodwalls. They are high enough for the frequent, relatively small hurricanes, but not high enough for the big ones. The corps is studying what it would take to raise them. - CNN Presents "When the Big One Hits," Encore Presentation, Oct. 21, 2002
Though the cost of restoring coastal Louisiana is estimated at twice that sum, NWF resource specialist David Conrad says "the cost of doing nothing would be much higher." If a big hurricane's storm surge broke through levees in and around New Orleans-a scenario many experts agree is likely-"the United States would face its most costly and perhaps worst natural disaster in history," he adds. - "Swamping Louisiana" by Laura Tangley, National Wildlife, April 1, 2002
DAVID LEWIS, CORRESPONDENT: The Mississippi River, 1993 -- 1,000 levees are breached, 17 million acres are under water. Texas, 1994 -- more levees break, 18 people die. North Dakota and Minnesota, 1997 -- $2 billion in damage as levees fail again...
Most levees around the country were built 60 to 100 years ago to give farmers more land. Usually constructed with plain old dirt, levees act like a vice, squeezing rivers onto a narrow path. And, levees like this one are essential. Without them, there would be no cities like St. Louis or New Orleans or Sacramento. California's state capital. But an IMPACT investigation of the nation's aging levees has found that their reliability, their very safety, is questionable, and what happened here in California with such tragic consequences could happen anywhere...When the Arboga and nearby levees failed in January of '97, eight people died and more than $2 billion of property was decimated...When the floodwaters receded at Arboga, the army corps of engineers came in to repair the damage, as they do around the country. The corps has been sounding a warning bell about levees for years.
JASON FANSELAU, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: Levees are the weakest part of the flood control system. There's two kinds of levees: Ones that have failed and ones that will fail. - CNN Impact, February 15, 1998
This is a single, two minute Nexis search. Couldn't the so-called reporters at the Times
have checked to see if there was a reasonable expectation for our government to have known this was a possibility?