I read this article in The Temple News with total amazement. As a native of the Ninth Ward and resident of the city for 50 years who was here for the disaster created by the Corps of Engineers in 2005, I can tell you that there are many incorrect assumptions in this article:
The French Quarter did not flood. At most there was a foot of water – not enough to even enter the shops on the ground floor.
The Ninth Ward levees were designed by pre-Betsy criteria instead of post-Betsy. Therefore the levees were 2 feet too low. In addition, to save money, the Corps forced Pittman Brothers Construction (see Pittman v. Corps of Engineers) to put sheet pile into the reconstructed levees (1990-94) that were between 10 and 17 feet, instead of the 35 to 65 feet required after soil tests revealed the absence of clay in the levees. The soil for these “upgraded” levees was from the [Mississippi River Gulf Outlet] channel, which was essentially marsh silt and not clay.
The entire coastline of Louisiana can be restored by utilizing Dr. Ivan van Heerden’s plan (in last chapter of his book, The Storm) to allow the river to rebuild the marshlands and cypress swamps that reduced Hurricane surge down to less than 2 feet by the time it got to New Orleans.
Louisiana has more than 10,000 miles of canals dug into the Marshland by Oil Companies, which creates the erosion that has eaten away an area the size of Delaware since 1950 and takes a football field sized piece every 45 minutes.
The levee repair budget was cut 25 percent in the five years preceding Katrina by the Bush administration, and residents’ warnings about water passing through and under the 1995 levees were ignored. Levees were not overtopped; the water went under the sheet pile and created heaves, thus collapsing the levees.
Louisiana produces more oil than Saudi Arabia, refines 34 percent of the nation’s gasoline, passes 75 percent of the grain exports through its port at New Orleans, generates 85 percent of the nation’s seafood and has the richest and most diverse culture of any state in the union.
Abandoning New Orleans, as the director of the corps stated last week, is to ignore the lessons of Holland where 68 percent of the country is 18 feet below sea level.
Armand J. Richardson
Arabi Wrecking Krewe Inc.Mandeville, La.