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Friday, 04 December, 2020

The Arrogant Killing the Innocent

Date: 01 October, 2005

By: Chief

Image was doing a bit of Googling about the Army Corps of Engineers the other day when I ran into an article written by Ralph Vartabedian and Peter Pae, both staff writers for the Los Angeles Times newspaper. 'Tis a fascinating article. And, looking back on the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina, a gut wrenching story as well.

The story is titled: "A Barrier That Could Have Been."

The barrier

It is all about how Congress in 1965, after Hurricane Betsy (a category 2 hurricane) roared ashore and slammed dunked Flori-duh and subsequently New Orleans, approved an $85 million dollar barrier project bill which would have in theory at least protected New Orleans from most if not all future hurricanes. The bill was signed into law by then President Johnson.

Well, as we all know the barrier did not do a single thing to slow down let alone stop the water surge from Hurricane Katrina — 40 years later. This phenomenon was not because the barrier was poorly designed or broken or because it was destroyed by Katrina. No, the reason the barrier did nothing to slow down Katrina's surge and wrath is simply because it was never built.

What? How can that be? Congress enacted a bill to fund a hurricane safety project, the president at the time signed the bill into law and the law was funded to the tune of $85 million taxpayer smackeroos. If you adjust the 1965 cost for inflation, according to the L.A. Times story, the project today would cost a paltry $500 million. A bargain, no doubt, compared to what we are a-fixin' to pay.

The barrier project was never built because in 1977 an environmental wacko group called "Save Our Wetlands" (SOW) sued the Army Corps of Engineers in federal court to stop the project. The judge in the case issued an injunction against the Corps of Engineers. And there you have it. No barrier. Hello Hurricane Katrina. Oops.

The wackos won. The City of New Orleans lost. The scoreboard reflects how bad the loss was. Scores of dead citizens. Thousands of homes and businesses destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of refugees spread all over hell's half acre. Seventy to ninety percent of New Orleans was severely flooded. It will cost approximately $100 billion, maybe more, to repair the city and make it livable again — for those that survived.

Consequently, the now infamous levee system was designed and constructed at a cost of approximately $1 billion and, as we all have found out, was never designed to withstand anything higher than a category 3 hurricane. Another oops.

Indeed, quoting the L.A. Times story:

"Stephen Baig, who heads the storm surge team at the National Hurricane Center, estimated that Katrina pushed a 27-foot surge at its eye near Bay St. Louis and raised Lake Pontchartrain by 12 to 13 feet."

Is it possible that even if the barrier had been constructed it might not have been able to handle Hurricane Katrina? Sure. Absolutely, anything is possible. However, it is important to keep in mind that even if the barrier did not or could not withstand all the forces of nature that Katrina brought to the party, the barrier at a minimum most likely would have Probably:

Those are two rather important things, would you not agree?

Save our Wetlands

Save Our Wetlands does not care. Truth be told, they are a bunch of zealots. And they are quite proud of their accomplishments. Their primary weapon is the lawsuit. Quoting from their website:

"SOWL sues! SOWL has been involved in countless lawsuits involving Lake Ponchartrain on every subject....from the New Orleans Levee Board Airport Expansion Plan, Bucktown Marina Expansion Plan, New Orleans Mosquito Control Drainage schemes in wetlands of New Orleans East, Eden Isle Subdivision on the north shores of Lake Ponchartrain, Orlanda Subdivision, Corps of Engineers Hurricane Barrier Project, shell dredging in Lake Ponchartrain, Waterford Nuclear the Marathon Oil Company canals in the wetlands of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes."

Isn't it lovely that so many projects have been sued into extinction? Like the hurricane barrier project, the nuclear power plant project and the oil company canals project. I wonder how many jobs have been lost because of those lawsuits? Cities are enduring brown outs and occasionally complete black outs. Fuel prices are over $3.00 dollars per gallon. And Hurricane Katrina is still quite fresh on our minds. Damn aren't we just so lucky to have them on our side? Scumbags.

But here is the humdinger (quoting Save Our Wetlands website):

"In 1977, SOWL obtained an injunction from U.S. District Judge Charles Schwartz enjoining the Corps of Engineers from building a billion dollar dam at the Chef Mentaur Rigolets Fort Pike Area, where the Gulf of Mexico enters into Lake Ponchartrain. Had SOWL not obtained this injunction, Lake Ponchartrain would be a stagnant body of water and over 28,000 acres of wetlands in New Orleans East would have been developed into the Orlanda Subdivision."

It was that very injunction that caused Katrina to break the City of New Orleans back. Also, please attend to the phrases "would be" and "would have" in the above quote. SOW went to court and obtained an injunction based upon what might happen or possibly could happen sometime off in the future. No fact, just mere suspicion, guessing and the spreading of Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). It is also a very feeble attempt to rationalize or justify their actions which wiped out a unique and wonderful city. Dirt-bags.

I went over Save Our Wetlands website in a vain attempt to find anything remotely resembling an 'Oops, we screwed up' sort of statement. I found none. Actually all I found was smugness and arrogance on the part of SOW. In other words SOW did not at the time and SOW does not now give one rat's behind about the loss of life or destruction of property that, apparently because of no barrier, Hurricane Katrina caused to New Orleans.

SOW is nothing more than a bunch of pompous, rabid dogs. And, you know what has to happen to rabid dogs, pompous or not. The animals gets put down. As it should be.

Indeed, SOW went so far as to say (quoting SOW's website):

"Hurricane Katrina WOULD HAVE TOPPED the CORPS' 1977 BARRIER PLAN, TRAPPING the FLOOD WATERS INSIDE ST. TAMMANY PARISH, FLOODING the PROPOSED N.O. EAST 28,000 acres 'Orlandia' subdivision [sic]."

SOW made that statement — as a purported 'fact' — out of whole cloth. As the barrier was not built, thanks to those scumbags, factually nobody can state categorically, as in with absolute certainty as SOW has attempted to do, what would have happened had the barrier been in place when Hurricane Katrina showed up in New Orleans and crashed the party. I suspect that SOW is trying to cover their worthless butts from potential lawsuits against them. That would be such wonderful poetic justice and so richly deserved.

On the other hand, we do know factually and categorically, as in with absolute certainty, what happened to the City of New Orleans without the barrier.

According to the L.A. Times story the main thrust of the SOW suit was that the barrier would:

(a) "[S]harply reduce the natural flow of ocean water into the lake, damaging shellfish and other aquatic life," (b) "drain the wetlands, leaving it 'extremely susceptible to hurricane tidal surges' " and (c) " '[a]nd once a hurricane hits and floods these low-lying areas, it's the taxpayers who have to pay for the disaster loans" Save the Wetlands said a few years ago' "(quoting the L.A. Times).

Well, at least SOW got the "it's the taxpayers who have to pay for the disaster loans" part correct, but that appears to be about all. Slimeballs.

Mr. Joseph Towers, the retired chief counsel for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans district, in the same story said:

" 'My feeling was that saving human lives was more important than saving a percentage of shrimp and crab in Lake Pontchartrain', Towers said. 'I told my staff at the time that this judge [who granted the injunction] had condemned the city. Some people said I was being a little dramatic' " (quoting the L.A. Times).

Mr. Towers appears to be quite the prophet. It just took 40 years for the inevitable to happen.

Towers also also had this to say:

"If we had built the barriers, New Orleans would not be flooded" (quoting the L.A. Times).

Now Towers made that statement — as a purported 'fact' — out of whole cloth. Again, nobody factually knows what would have happened if the barrier was in place. All we factually know is what happened without it. Though I will whole heartedly standby my statement that the barrier would have probably:

What about some independent analysis? Where are the engineers when you need them anyway? Well the L.A. Times found Johannes Westerink, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Notre Dame and he had this to say about the subject:

"[T]he system proposed after Betsy would have been an 'effective barrier' against the surge from Hurricane Katrina. It would have stopped that" (quoting the L.A. Times).

The professor co-developed a modeling program and used this computer simulation model to reach his conclusion.

While the professor's statement still is does not establish a fact, his conclusion does corroborate and lends additional credibility to Towers' statement. It also puts a mighty sharp knife right up against the jugular vein of SOW. They so deserve to have their throats slit.

In a related matter a husband and wife team who own a rest home in which 40 plus people died because of Katrina have been criminally charged with negligent homicide or something along those lines. And rightly so. If the Constitution allowed it, the owners, if convicted, should be flogged and then hung. Unfortunately, flogging is considered cruel or unusual punishment and, as such, is in violation of the VIII Amendment. Bummer.

Uncharged criminals

But what about SOW? Are they not criminally culpable or responsible as well? I would certainly think so. Were they not the lead plaintiff in a successful lawsuit to block the construction of the proposed barrier system? Yes. Were they not one of the principal parties which participated in the development of an alternative plan which was ultimately approved to build the current and failed levee system? It appears to be so.

Therefore, if SOW is directly responsible and/or culpable for, at the very least, negligently contributing to numerous deaths and destruction of property the question then becomes why are the members of SOW, swine that they are, not being prosecuted to the fullest extent of state and possibly federal law? Simple — politics.

No prosecutor in his or her right mind, at any level of government, is going to take on an environmental wacko group. It just ain't going to happen. It is certainly a shame because it desperately needs to be done and soon. These boneheads are screwing up our lives in more ways than one and, quite literally, are killing innocent people in order to further their very own agenda of how We the People should live.

A civil remedy

Of course, there is always the civil remedy which is available to us mere citizens and, much more importantly in this case, insurance companies. SOW appears to be quite a powerful organization, litigatively speaking. However, subsequent to Katrina's arrival and departure in New Orleans, how would SOW stand up against numerous civil lawsuits filed against them by insurance companies? Insurance companies have big, as in really big, bucks in the bank. They are also, at the corporate level, about as compassionate as Jack the Ripper. Further, as SOW fully admits that it was their lawsuit which prevented the barrier system from being built SOW, in my opinion, is civilly responsible and liable for, at a minimum, the majority of the deaths and damage incurred within the greater New Orleans area.

The injunction halting the development and construction of the barrier system and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should provide ample prima facie evidence of SOW's negligence, culpability, civil liability and total lack of concern for the people of New Orleans or anybody else for that matter. Only SOW's agenda is important. Screw people — save a shrimp. That is the SOW attitude.

Congress, yeah it is now their turn in the barrel, needs to take a long hard look at the various federal environmental laws that are on the books. Our Congress has, based upon money being passed into various campaign coffers, given SOW and other like minded scumbag groups more than sufficient legal horse power to block almost anything some wacko group does not like. And that has got to change. Vote.

I also did some Googling pertaining to donations for the victims of Katrina. Specifically, I wanted to see if I could find any direct information which would lead me to believe that the worthless jerks at SOW made a donation for the victims of the hurricane. I found no such information direct or indirect that SOW has done anything remotely resembling human compassion. I may have missed something but I doubt it. There is no link of any sort on the SOW website redirecting the site visitor to any other website accepting donations for the Hurricane Katrina folks.

I did, finally, find a direct link, on SOW's website for making a:

"[T]ax deductible donattion[sic]. . .."

This direct link is in case you want to send SOW some money. What a bunch of buffoons.

The bottom line is this — if you are looking for someone or some group to 'point the finger at' or to 'place the blame on', you need look no further than SOW. Yes, I know that a whole bunch of citizens, organizations and every layer of government needs to shoulder their share of the blame as well. But the root cause of the death and destruction attributed to Hurricane Katrina was courtesy of SOW. An environmental wacko group.

Just remember who filed the lawsuit that blocked the barrier project and the factual results thereof. Pretty simple if you ask me.

Zealots. You cannot live with them — but you damn sure can live without them.

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