Friday, August 3, 2007

Thank You, Time Magazine

From Time Magazine by Michael Grunwald:

The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks. We never would have heard the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie." The Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) was the scapegoat, but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which bungled the levees that formed the city's man-made defenses and ravaged the wetlands that once formed its natural defenses. Americans were outraged by the government's response, but they still haven't come to grips with the government's responsibility for the catastrophe.

And haven't I been saying this over and over? I am so pleased that a national news magazine is telling this story. Maybe now folks in the rest of the country will "get it".

There's this on the mostly inept and not-to-be trusted US Corps of Engineers:

But Corps officials have also committed to restoring the surge-softening marshes, cypress swamps and barrier islands that are disappearing at a rate of a football field nearly every half-hour. They say they now understand that the survival of New Orleans depends on a sustainable coast. "This is not the Corps of old," says Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of the agency's Task Force Hope. "The world has changed, and the Corps is changing too."

So. Now they understand about the marshes. I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath for the Corps to keep the promise about the restoration of the marshes. It's not entirely the fault of the Corps, which is funded mainly by earmarks, with politicians meddling in a heavy-handed manner in their plans and projects.

The article is well done. Grunwald did his homework before writing his story, which is more than I can say for other prestigious journalists. I don't agree with every single statement in the story, but he mostly gets it very right.

Thanks to Oyster at Your Right Hand Thief for the tip to the story.