Column: The mediaa s Irene conundrum ...

Column: The mediaa s Irene conundrum - The Advocate Weekly Online

There are 15 comments on the Advocate Weekly story from Sep 14, 2011, titled Column: The mediaa s Irene conundrum - The Advocate Weekly Online. In it, Advocate Weekly reports that:

If Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin does nothing else during his current term, he will have offered the public a service by addressing frustration with the national media in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Advocate Weekly.

Matt

Norton, VA

#1 Sep 23, 2011
You must be joking with this.

Your paragraph:
"For example, Blanco and Nagin were never effectively taken to task for the above mistakes, yet the Army Corps of Engineers was criticized for the levee breaches, even though it had no control over the purse strings to make upgrades happen."
is utterly wrong.

By federal law, the Corps of Engineers retains full responsibility for the design and construction off the levees, floodwalls, and flood protection structures surrounding the greater New Orleans area. This includes funding.

In addition, 80% of the flooding in New Orleans came from the collapse of floodwalls which were improperly designed by the Corps. They failed with water three to five feet below their tops. Everyone admitted this, including the Corps.

You've got other factual errors too:

"[Blanco] Blanco waffled her way to mobilizing the National Guard and asking the feds for help,"

The request for federal assistance was placed by Governor Blanco the day before the hurricane struck, on 8/28/05.

"[Nagin's] rushed decision to use the Superdome as a quick fix shelter turned into a months-long health and crime crisis in its own right."

The Superdome was an awful place to shelter, but many of the stories of crimes were completely overblown and later debunked. In addition, the Superdome was completely evacuated a week after Katrina. I don't know where you're getting "month's long."

You seem to have an agenda to blame the local officials while absolving the feds. You wish to do so when talking about an engineering failure that killed hundreds of Americans, a failure by a federal agency (the Corps). "Blame the locals" is a common Republican talking point, and New Orleanians are tired of it.

Frankly, I'm not sure what your point is, since you've botched so many of the fact underpinning your argument. Next time, do more research before typing.
Tagline

Easthampton, MA

#2 Sep 23, 2011
Matt wrote:
You must be joking with this.
Your paragraph:
"For example, Blanco and Nagin were never effectively taken to task for the above mistakes, yet the Army Corps of Engineers was criticized for the levee breaches, even though it had no control over the purse strings to make upgrades happen."
is utterly wrong.
By federal law, the Corps of Engineers retains full responsibility for the design and construction off the levees, floodwalls, and flood protection structures surrounding the greater New Orleans area. This includes funding.
In addition, 80% of the flooding in New Orleans came from the collapse of floodwalls which were improperly designed by the Corps. They failed with water three to five feet below their tops. Everyone admitted this, including the Corps.
You've got other factual errors too:
"[Blanco] Blanco waffled her way to mobilizing the National Guard and asking the feds for help,"
The request for federal assistance was placed by Governor Blanco the day before the hurricane struck, on 8/28/05.
"[Nagin's] rushed decision to use the Superdome as a quick fix shelter turned into a months-long health and crime crisis in its own right."
The Superdome was an awful place to shelter, but many of the stories of crimes were completely overblown and later debunked. In addition, the Superdome was completely evacuated a week after Katrina. I don't know where you're getting "month's long."
You seem to have an agenda to blame the local officials while absolving the feds. You wish to do so when talking about an engineering failure that killed hundreds of Americans, a failure by a federal agency (the Corps). "Blame the locals" is a common Republican talking point, and New Orleanians are tired of it.
Frankly, I'm not sure what your point is, since you've botched so many of the fact underpinning your argument. Next time, do more research before typing.
This message proudly paid for by apologists for Nagin.
Matt

Norton, VA

#3 Sep 26, 2011
Actually, it came free of charge from the real world, where facts exist.
Tagline

Easthampton, MA

#4 Sep 26, 2011
Matt wrote:
Actually, it came free of charge from the real world, where facts exist.
Here are the facts:

1. The rest of us are just plain sick of 'New Orleanian' whining.

2. It's stupid to build a major city below sea level in hurricane alley. And it's reasonable for Americans to question why we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars to repeat the Mistake on Lake Pontchartrain.

3. It's also reasonable for the rest of the world to wonder why hundreds of buses that should have been used to evacuate "New Orlenians" were left idle by your hero Super Ray.

4. Louisiana's state government had ZERO in the way of planning for a major storm event in the gulf.

But here is the most salient fact: You and your ilk will continue to p**s and moan and say everything is the fault of someone else (usually the federal government) instead of actually helping yourselves.
Matt

Norton, VA

#5 Sep 27, 2011
Fine, you want to trot out every anti-New Orleans stereotype, you do that. I sure it's very comfortable in your world.

But perhaps you should take a look elsewhere to see if all your assumption-based "facts" - especially those regarding "whining" - have any merit. Like perhaps the front page of yesterday's NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/us/flood-vi...

"People here in northeastern Pennsylvania, already traumatized by the loss of their homes, were further disheartened by word that FEMA’s disaster relief fund was running short of money.

"'Members of Congress are playing with people’s lives, not just their own political careers,' said Martin J. Bonifanti, chief of the Lake Winola volunteer fire company.'While they are rattling on among themselves down there in Washington, people are suffering.'"

[...]

"Uprooted and desolate, hard-working people in this part of the country expect a bit more from their government."

Those stupid northeast Pennsylvanians! Didn't they know they could get flooded? What are they whining about?

Regarding the buses: had they had drivers and filled them, there still would have been tens of thousands of people remaining in the city. Also, 90% of the region did evacuate - an unprecedented level. The people remaining behind were the old, the infirm, and the poor, people for whom it is not easy to evacuate. Considering the city's tax base and the general antipathy toward New Orleans, even within Louisiana, before Katrina how would you have proposed paying to evacuate and house such people for up to a week or more? The only way would be federal funds. But that's not allowed in your world, is it?

Regarding the below sea level location of New Orleans - I would like you to find a port to handle the majority of the nations grain and large chunks of other imports that is not at or below sea level. Also (and I know this is inconvenient for you), over 50% of New Orleans is above sea level. The flooding was caused not by New Orleans' geography, but by the engineering failure of the levees surrounding the city. By your reasoning, no one should live in a flood plain, which would knock out a large majority of most American cities, including St Louis, Washington, DC, and Miami.

Regarding the state government's planning for a major storm event - you clearly have zero experience with gulf coast living. The state's preparations in the evacuation were excellent. Louisiana coordinated with the surrounding states to help get over a million people safely out of harms' way in about two days before the storm hit. To see how good that preparation was, you only need to look at the slapdash, haphazard attempts to evacuate the Houston area six weeks later for hurricane Rita, when over 100 people - including dozens of senior citizens - died on the roads which were clogged with 24 hour long traffic jams and gas stations ran out of gas a day before Rita came ashore. That happened because Texas - with its gulf coast ports of Houston and Galveston, hadn't bothered to put a comprehensive evacuation plan in place and publicize it.

Finally, if you would take your blinders off, you'd realize there's no love lost between new Orleanians and Ray Nagin. He was a buffoon totally unprepared for any kind of minor crisis, let alone the failure of the the federally-built hurricane protection. But this isn't about shifting blame. It's about placing responsibility for response to a massive disaster of national proportions where the law says it is - with the federal government. And when a large part of that disaster - the flooding of New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, St Bernard Parish, and Plaquemines Parish (yes it affected more than just New Orleans)- occurs because the federal government failed in a job it was given 40 years to complete, then yes, the fedral government also deserves some of the blame as well.
Ummm

Easthampton, MA

#6 Sep 27, 2011
Matt wrote:
"People here in northeastern Pennsylvania, already traumatized by the loss of their homes....
You want to equivocate living in Pennsylvania, where tropical storms come once every hundred years (or twice this year) and living in New Orleans, where they happen all the time, is that it? I'm sure that analogy makes perfect sense in your reality.
But for the record, I also feel that rebuilding areas affected by storms is a local/state problem that needs local/state solutions. And I find nothing more amusing than buffoons like Christie and Cuomo linking arms to whine about lack of federal funds. The last time I looked, Trenton and Albany had the power to levy taxes. What they lack is the balls to do so.
SandySays

New Orleans, LA

#7 Sep 27, 2011
This column is so full of errors I was tempted to simply dismiss it. But since it's written by a journalist, I cannot ignore it.

The Army Corps was found responsible for the levee/floodwall failures that drowned New Orleans by US District Judge Stan Duval in Jan 2008. The Corps was not held financially liable due to sovereign immunity in the Flood Control Act of 1928. The same judge found the Corps guilty of negligence to maintain a navigation channel east of the city. That case is on appeal.

The US Army Corps of Engineers is overwhelmingly and primarily responsible for the deaths of over 1,600 and the near drowning of a great American City according to the Hurricane Protection Decision Chronology released in April 2008. The quote below is in the foreword of the Chronology.

"Although many layers of government—from Federal through state to local—were involved in the decision process, the Corps is, in the end, responsible for leading the planning, design, and construction of LP&VHPP levees and floodwalls."

Even the Corps of Engineers accepts responsibility. Yesterday, a Corps official, Ken Holder, USACE NO District told a bus full of national media that the Corps is responsible for the destruction of New Orleans in August 2005.

Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org

New Orleans Ladder

United States

#8 Sep 27, 2011
I'm continuously amazed by journalistic stupidity, even hubris --not ignorance-- regarding the miss-framing of the story of how New Orleans was flooded 8/29/05 as (quoting your opening premise here) "an unavoidable natural disaster."

Sandy and Matt seem to have the technical FACTS covered, so allow me to address your unbelievable, flux-journalistic self-denial. Even the Corps of Engineers admitted in Federal Court that New Orleans was flooded because of engineering failure (its own). Of course in the 1st weeks of their failure the Corps tried in your media to blame it on the storm, over-topping (all 3 catastrophic failures which flooded 80% of the city happened at below design-spec, some even at half load), corrupt local government (levee boards) and even the citizens of New Orleans who'd lost everything to Corps Misfeasance (<--Federal Judge Duvall's word in his judgement against them).
This are well established FACTS OF THE CASE.
I mean, come on. What are you doing here? Your misdirection must be deliberate, given that 6 years later now even George Bush doesn't think the Levees were a broke Jewish family. Sorry to be so flippant, but I'm dumbstruck by your journalistic blinders. Hey, my 5 yr old grand-niece -not even born when this crime occurred- knows that it wasn't "an unavoidable natural disaster".
Please correct your egregious mistake here.

Thank you,
Editilla~New Orleans Ladder
Stuart

Plano, TX

#9 Sep 27, 2011
"After all, the best preparation in the world wouldn't have kept the Gulf of Mexico out of New 'Orleans"?

After all of what? After all the research left undone by Telly Halkias?

The Gulf of Mexico *was* kept out of Metairie, the adjoining suburb that shares the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain with New Orleans. Get a map showing the flooded areas. Look at New Orleans. Look at Metairie. Now look back at New Orleans. Same topography, same lakeshore, same storm surge. The only difference is that New Orleans has outfall and industrial canals.

What put the Gulf waters into New Orleans were failures of the Federally built and maintained floodwalls in the city of New Orleans. These weren't "acts of God"; He didn't decide to drive 19 foot sheet piles in place of 65 footers, or fail to analyze soil tests. This has been thoroughly documented over the past six years. Blanco, Nagin, the local levee boards--in fact all the local "politicos"--had no responsibility for the design and construction of the failed floodwalls. That fact is more than documented, it's Federal law (Flood Control Act of 1965).

Ugh, here I go again...another bitter New Orleanian spewing mundane facts (they're not called soil "borings" for nothing) when the narrative of colorful political personality is just so much more interesting! I know nothing about Governor Shumlin. But if a Federal floodwall failed and put a Vermont town underwater, I'd bet Vermont's governor--whoever it is, and regardless of personality--would be "pointing the finger at the feds".

Katrina was a natural disaster--for Mississippi. In New Orleans, nearly all of the the flooding resulted from bureaucratic bungles and engineering errors. Nearly all of those were at the Federal level. Nagin and Blanco were right to point their fingers.

As the columnist helpfully points out, "...such reporting was demagoguery. At its best, laziness".

Nice of him to include his own disclaimer.
Tagline

Easthampton, MA

#10 Sep 27, 2011
God, this whining knows NO end. lol

How long will the rest of the world owe Louisiana and New Orleans a handout? How long will it take the fine New Orleanians to accept SOME measure of responsibility?

Never mind. Never happen.

Since: Sep 11

New Orleans, LA

#11 Sep 27, 2011
Tagline wrote:
God, this whining knows NO end. lol
How long will the rest of the world owe Louisiana and New Orleans a handout? How long will it take the fine New Orleanians to accept SOME measure of responsibility?
Never mind. Never happen.
The citizens of New Orleans cannot be held responsible for the failure of the floodwalls which collapsed, killed over 1,600 and swamped a great American city. Responsibility, according to Judge Stanwood Duval lies squarely at the feet of the Corps of Engineers. Don't take our word for it. You can see it here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/01/us/01corps....

Matt

Norton, VA

#12 Sep 27, 2011
32 states receive more federal tax revenue than they pay in federal taxes. Should all these states be deemed as receiving "handouts?"

Since: Sep 11

New Orleans, LA

#13 Sep 27, 2011
Fifty five percent of the American population lives in counties protected by levees.

http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2010/...
New Orleans Ladder

United States

#14 Sep 27, 2011
Hey Tagamet, "God this whining knows NO end lol" is absolutely correct as I'm sick of you people's stupidity and fawning to the latest drive-by political craze in order to disregard the facts and smear the truth just to pick on what you see as a black entitlement city.
Pick on New Orleans, we'll hear your mouth screaming when you've had to face federal engineering failure.
We'll hear you cry for FEMA.
We'll hear all of your neocoward rhetoric fall beneath the rubble.
And then we'll give you whatever you need.
That's the way it goes.
America takes care of its own, even when they're evil people who would just as quickly turn on us and stab another citizen in the back for their own gain.
royalcroc

United States

#15 Sep 27, 2011
Its good from time to time to re-read this report; especially Chapter #15; start at about Page 15-3 for a quick read:

http://www.ce.berkeley.edu/projects/neworlean...

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