Bush Not Responsible For Katrina SNAFUs

The Katrina response is full of SNAFUs—inadequate flood protection, poor preparedness, poor communications, and slow response. You can’t pin this on one person, and nobody should resign over this.

The problem is systemic.

Disaster response procedures do not come with each elected official official. They are refined over decades. They are the legacy of many mayorships, governorships, and presidencies. Pointing fingers will delegitimize those with the most experience.

The problem is also scale. No amount of preparedness exercises can guarantee flawless execution in the largest natural disaster to ever hit the US.

Yes, the response was bad. New Orleans, Louisiana, and FEMA must improve. New Orleans and Louisiana should have more planning than just “corral the poor and wait for the feds.” The feds should have reacted more quickly.

On a side node, some buffoons, apparently fueled by sites like Daily Kos, are even going so far as to cite recent federal budget cuts as the direct cause of the flooding. (This nutty viewpoint has even infected Wikipedia.)

One of their “facts” against the Bush administration is that work on the Hammond Highway Bridge over the 17th St. Canal caused the breach. Of course, they disregard the fact that this project was initiated in prior president’s administration. Plus, look at the picture to the right. It shows that completed bridge at the top. Further down, several houses south of the bridge, is the levee break. The link is at best vague.

All of you Daily Kos-reading “let’s-not-let-facts-get-in-the-way-of-our-anti-Bush-crusade” types, give me a break! Your silly arguments completely dissolve in the face of intractable questions like:

  • Is levee protection of a specific locality a proper federal issue?
  • Why is Louisiana apparently a beggar for critical projects, unable to act on its own? If the state cannot be economically viable and safe on its own, does it deserve to be rewarded with pork barrel projects like free levees?
  • Louisiana couldn’t have made up any of the recent annual shortfalls, which at its worst was $16.1 million in 2005, for a “critical” project?
  • Even if the money was paid in full, would the levees have been completed today?
  • When has any local authority, especially in the 3nd most corrupt state in the United States, ever been honest with true needs? Just because only x% of the requested money was spent, does that mean that only a similar percent of the truly needed projects were able to be completed?
  • Why solely blame the president when Congress is who creates and passes budgets? With the loss of the short-lived line item veto, the only legal authority the president has in the budgetary process is signing the budget bills.

The New Orleans levee system has been underfunded and incomplete for decades. It was supposed to be finished in 1975 (search for 1965). It is just coincidental that the consequences of the underfunding hit during the Bush administration. (Check out this funny weirdo who believes that Katrina was directly manipulated by something called the Woodpecker Grid. This nitwit is the weather anchor for a Idaho TV station. Is Idaho really that desperate?)

So far I have found nothing convincing to suggest that the current levee system could have been reasonably completed by August 2005 without an unprecedented and unusual windfall from the feds. But even if the current levee system was fully completed, it was not designed to withstand a storm like Katrina. The current levee system was inadequate for any hurricane over category 3.

It is true that there has been talk of upgrading to a levee system that can withstand category 5 storms. However, estimates say this will cost $2.5 billion (I probably should have said “at least”; when do big federal projects every stay within budget?) and would have taken decades to complete. (another link) It is silly to blame the lack of a category 5 buffer on any recent budget actions.

Another charge is that wetlands destruction caused this flooding. There’s a grain of truth in this. Every 2.7 miles of wetlands absorb about 1 foot of storm surge (link). And the cheery-eyed optimists, citing that wetlands are quickly rejuvenated (true), also use this to blame the Bush Administration.


Let’s not forget some important things:

Furthermore, the official plan to restore Louisiana wetlands is called Coast 2050. Hmm, “2050”: does that imply a project that will take a while to complete? As in you can’t pin wetlands loss on Bush?

Don’t summarily blame individuals for this crisis. The response procedures were created and refined over many presidential administrations. I don’t think it’s reasonable to criticize any of these individuals simply because they didn’t effect profound, revolutionary changes before this event. However, they know better now. We need to hold their asses to the grindstone until radical improvements come out.

And you liberal weenies, quit selfishly using this tragedy to further your own agenda. That’s just nauseating.

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