Bush hurricane protection plan full of holes
The Bush administration has released storm protection plans for Louisiana that some say are severely lacking:
The Bush administration issued guidelines Monday for deciding how to protect Louisiana from the most dangerous hurricanes - plans that state officials said ignore specific fixes that could begin quickly.
The much-awaited report, developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, marked the first step in two years of planning how to rebuild New Orleans' levees, bolster Louisiana's coastline and develop other programs to control flooding from Category 5 storms.
But five specific recommendations Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, described as urgently needed to protect the state had been stripped out of the Corps' proposal since a draft was circulated last month.
Louisiana Senators Landrieu and Vitter are not happy campers:
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called it "nothing more than another slap in the face of Louisiana" and said the Army "decided to gut the report and remove all substance."
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she would demand congressional hearings to investigate omission of the five recommendations. "Levee and flood control is a life-or-death situation for the people of coastal Louisiana," she said. "So it is very disappointing that this report fails to do what Congress mandated."
Gov. Kathleen Blanco had recommended specific steps, which according to the article were dropped from the recommendations:
In a June 27 letter to Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, Blanco outlined five projects she called "fundamental to reduce future risk." They include plans to restore deteriorating coastline, build a New Orleans hurricane barrier on the Mississippi River's east side, and close a Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.
According to the article, Army Corps of Engineers planning and policy chief Col. Tom Waters defended the plan, saying "It's too early to recommend projects for authorization."
Too early? It's been almost a year since President Bush stood in Jackson Square and said:
And tonight I also offer this pledge of the American people: Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know there is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again.
Protecting a city that sits lower than the water around it is not easy, but it can, and has been done. City and parish officials in New Orleans, and state officials in Louisiana will have a large part in the engineering decisions to come. And the Army Corps of Engineers will work at their side to make the flood protection system stronger than it has ever been.
As the president's motorcade rushed away after the speech, the generators were shutdown, the lights went off, and New Orleans was left standing in the dark holding a bag full of empty promises.