Saturday, September 03, 2005


Wrong Answer, Mr. President

While FEMA's Michael Brown gets beaten like a pinata over at Daily Kos (for being a Bush-contributing appointee fired from his previous job) and at CNN (for being totally clueless), I found the most jawdropping statement of this last week came from the President himself, in his interview with Diane Sawyer:

"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached."

Really? What an interesting contention -- because that seemed to be all anyone was talking about last weekend. But let's dial the Wayback Machine up a little higher, shall we? Here's an excerpt from the New York Times of July 4th 2003, from an editorial titled New Orleans's Hurricane Problem:

New Orleans is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The city is located below sea level, and it is surrounded by water -- the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. If New Orleans is ever hit by the Big One, the city could fill up like a bowl. Many residents would be unable to evacuate in time because of crowded escape routes, flooding or lack of access to transportation.

No? Not far back enough for you? Then let's try the Times editorial page for August 11 2002, If The Big One Hits The Big Easy, The Good Times May Be Gone Forever:

It is a disaster waiting to happen. New Orleans is the only major American city below sea level, and it wedged between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi. In a bad hurricane, experts say, the city could fill up like a cereal bowl, killing tens of thousands and laying waste to the city's architectural heritage.... So far Washington has done little, and New Orleans's response has been less than satisfying. The city is focused on evacuating its 500,000 residents. But the roads leading out would flood quickly, stranding those who lingered. Then there is the thorny issue of the 100,000 residents without cars. "When I do presentations," said Terry Tullier, head ofthe New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness, "I start by saying that when the Big One comes, many of you will die -- let's get that out the way." Mr. Tullier has seen computer models of Canal Street under 20 feet of water and heard that floodwaters could stay for weeks, that the National Guard might need thousands of body bags -- and that New Orleans might never recover.
No? Then how about the Times article from ten years ago, May 14 1995, A Sense of Unreal in New Orleans Flood... ok, you get the point.

"I don't think anybody anticipated...?"

No. Somebody did not anticipate.

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