Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Did Bush administration budget cuts doom New Orleans?

I just posted the latest update to the seemingly neverending post on Hurricane Katrina. Frankly, it's been a lot of tiring work to maintain, but given that people are still reading it and finding it useful -- and that a lot of the people who find it useful just lost everything they have -- I wouldn't feel right about not continuing at this point until things are more stabilized, and fewer people are worrying about their friends, loved ones, and their beloved city.

I wanted specifically to start a seperate post on a very disturbing issue, however. For about the past three years, the City of New Orleans has faced significant budget cuts for its Army Corps of Engineers projects to safeguard the city from flooding and to increase the level of protection so that it could cope with more dangerous hurricanes.

I just read this article about how the Bush administration has been cutting funding for the Army Corps of Engineers projects around New Orleans for years, which makes you wonder whether this level of damage could've been avoided. Another article, written in June of this year, is absolutely damning, in retrospect:

The New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. . . the largest single-year funding loss ever . . . I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. . . . The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved . . . the New Orleans district, which employs 1,300 people, instituted a hiring freeze last month . . . the first of its kind in about 10 years. . . One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project. . . designed to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president.

(Senator) Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority.

"I think it's extremely shortsighted. When the Corps of Engineers' budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation."

I personally hope that there will be a full senate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the hurricane, and what things could've been done to avoid this massive disaster.

If any of you can find additional information on this issue, please reply with anything you can find. Thanks.

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