Call it Lake George

While we're on the subject of Bush's incompetence, Wonkette offers this email from an EPA staffer down in New Orleans, who says the people cleaning up the White House-created mess have a special name for the flood waters:


We're naming it Lake George, 'cause it's his frickin fault. Have you seen all that data about the levee projects' funding being cut over the past three years by the Prez, and the funding transferred to Iraq? The levee, as designed, might not have held back the surge from a direct Class 5 hit, but it certainly would not have crumbled on Monday night from saturation and scour erosion following a glancing blow from a Class 3. The failure was in a spot that had just been rebuilt, not yet compacted, not planted, and not armed (hardened with rock/concrete). The project should have been done two years ago, but the federal gov't diverted 80% of the funding to Iraq. Other areas had settled by a few feet from their design specs, and the money to repair them was diverted to Iraq.
The NO paper raised hell about this time and again, to no avail. And who will take the blame for it? The Army Corps, because they're good soldiers and will never contradict the C in C. But Corps has had massive budget cuts across all departments (including wetland regulatory) since Bush took office, and now we've reaped what was sown. It really pisses me off to see the Corps get used by the Administration to shield Bush -- they do great work when they're funded. This was senseless, useless death caused not by nature but by budget decisions. [LINK]
Details on the federal budget cuts are spelled out in a June 8, 2004 article that Josh Marshall excerpts on his site:
The challenge now, said emergency management chiefs Walter Maestri in Jefferson Parish and Terry Tullier in New Orleans, is for southeast Louisiana somehow to persuade those who control federal spending that protection from major storms and flooding are matters of homeland security.
"It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay," Maestri said. "Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us." [LINK]
You can read the rest here

UPDATE: My friend and former colleague John Gartner just sent me a link to a Times article that offers more damning proof linking the New Orleans disaster to funding cuts, including a $71 million cut in the New Orleans district budget just this year:
Weaknesses in the levee system were foreshadowed in a report in May on the hurricane protection plan for the region and the budget gap. The district headquarters said, "The current funding shortfalls in fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2006 will prevent the Corps from addressing these pressing needs." ...
Since 2001, the Louisiana Congressional delegation had pushed for far more money for storm protection than the Bush administration has accepted. Now, Mr. Naomi said, all the quibbling over the storm budget, or even over full Category 5 protection, which would cost several billion dollars, seemed tragically absurd.
"It would take $2.5 billion to build a Category 5 protection system, and we're talking about tens of billions in losses, all that lost productivity, and so many lost lives and injuries and personal trauma you'll never get over," Mr. Naomi said. "People will be scarred for life by this event." [LINK]
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