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Did New Orleans HAVE to be THIS bad?

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From Talking Points Memo:

"Then there's this piece in the Chicago Tribune. First three grafs ...

Despite continuous warnings that a catastrophic hurricane could hit New Orleans, the Bush administration and Congress in recent years have repeatedly denied full funding for hurricane preparation and flood control.

That has delayed construction of levees around the city and stymied an ambitious project to improve drainage in New Orleans' neighborhoods.

For instance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested $27 million for this fiscal year to pay for hurricane-protection projects around Lake Pontchartrain. The Bush administration countered with $3.9 million, and Congress eventually provided $5.7 million, according to figures provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

And further down in the piece there's this ...

'I'm not saying it wouldn't still be flooded, but I do feel that if it had been totally funded, there would be less flooding than you have,' said Michael Parker, a former Republican Mississippi congressman who headed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from October 2001 until March 2002, when he was ousted after publicly criticizing a Bush administration proposal to cut the corps'budget."

...You can't watch that stuff and not know that this, in that corny phrase, was the big one. And even with the best preparation, with all the organizational pistons firing, there was going to be death and dislocation and property damage on a grand scale.

But how much might have been prevented? And how much more rapid might the rescue and recovery have been?

The flooding situation in New Orleans is at least somewhat unique in natural disaster terms, since there's at least a bit of an all or nothing quality to the situation. If the levees had never been breached, or if there'd been fewer breaches, a lot of that water just never would have gotten into the city. And then the situation would be radically different. "

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