Professor Kathy Freeman
Eng 1A M,W
9 April 2012
Blame for Katrina Damage: The Corps Alone?
In august 2005, the State of Louisiana was hit with one of the most devastating natural disasters the United States has ever seen. New Orleans specifically was among the cities who felt the full force of Hurricane Katrina. While the storm itself was very powerful the damage wasn’t caused necessarily by the hurricane but by the failure in the levee system. According to Jennifer Trevedi, In the book, Encyclopedia of Disaster, Jennifer Trevedi describes the extent of the damage through breaches of the levee. Trevedi says, the levees were breached in over fifty different spots flooding the St. Bernard and Plaquemine parish. Some of the most significant breaches occurred at the Industrial Canal, the 17th Street Canal, and the London canal (322-325). Once the initial shock of the situation subsided, people wanted answers. Why did the levees fail? Who was responsible for this catastrophic mistake? Initially the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) who was put in charge of the construction of the levee system took the blame. But, after further research on the topic I’ve found that yes, the Corps took part in the breaching of the levees but prior to Hurricane Katrina the corps dealt with a tremendous amount of local, state, and federal stipulations that affected them in their attempt to build a safe and secure levee system. With this in mind the Corps cannot be found completely responsible for the disaster that occurred in the city of New Orleans. II
why do some blame the corps
After hurricane Katrina struck the city was destroyed. The residents of New Orleans had lost practically everything. Most of the devastation happened in the poorer parts of the city with a predominantly African American population. Everyone was angry with how little effort was put into the evacuation of the low income areas and many people who had pre-determined that the levee failure was the fault of the Corps compared the two situations. In the essay by John White called “the Persistence Of Race Politics And The Restraint Of Recovery In Katrinas’s Wake,” published in the book “After The Storm,” White talks about the comparison between discussions of race and arguments about the blame for the damage from Katrina. “Set in symbolic terms, the discussion of race and Katrina takes on the Same tone as arguments that Louisiana built inadequate levees (it did not, as the Army Corps of Engineers Designed and built the Levees) or that the levees were dynamited (true during the Great Flood of 1929, but unsupported today)” (43). The African American community of New Orleans felt because they were poor, and black they were interpreted as if they were to blame for not leaving prior to the storm hitting the city. Just like the Corps was to blame because people misinterpret their responsibility in the overall decision making in the building of the flood control system. The problems with the levees goes back to another storm that caused a lot of damage. According to J.D Rogers In the article “Development of the New Orleans Flood Protection System prior to Hurricane Katrina,” the U.S Army Corps of Engineers took on more responsibility for the building of the hurricane protection system after Hurricane Betsy. However, because of the growing population of New Orleans and constant lawsuits involving different ideas of how the levees were to be built, the Corps never were able to properly complete the flood protection plan (616). While the construction and design of the flood control system was part of the Corps responsibility, they never really had control of putting their plan into effect because of constant disagreements between different agencies. In addition, the article “Overview of New Orleans Levee Failures: Lessons Learned and Their Impact on National Levee Design and Assessment,” G.L. sills, et al. the authors write about...
Cited: McGarity, Thomas O. and Kysar, Douglas A. “Did Nepa Drown New Orleans? The Levees, The Blame Game, and the Hazards of Hindsight.” Schorlarships@Cornell Law:A Digital Repository (2006). Web. 25 March 2012.
New Orleans Hurricane Protection System: Assessing Pre-Katrina Vulnerability and Improving Mitigation and Preparedness. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press, 2009. Ebook Collection (EBSCHost). Web. 6 March 2012.
Katrina.” Journal of Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering 134.5 (2008): 602-617. Academic Search Premiere. EBSCO. Web. 13 May 2012.
Trevedi, Jennifer. “Hurricane Katrina (2005)” Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief. K Bradley
White, John Valery. “the Persistence Of Race Politics And The Restraint Of Recovery In Katrinas’s Wake.” After The Storm. Ed. David Dante Troutt. New York: The New Press, 2006. 41-63
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