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Did oil corp canals increase Katrina flooding?

by Save Our Wetlands Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2006 at 7:38 AM

The development of wetland flood buffers combined with dredging for oil corporation's canals may have increased flood damage to New Orleans during hurricane Katrina..

BTW, in CA's Sacramento/San Joaquin River delta there are also many flooding risks from wetland loss and channelization. Several low income housing projects in the city of Sacramento are also located directly at riverside in very low elevation. Further downstream of Sacramento there are several large islands used for agriculture now located below sea level after decades of flood protection from levees. Following Gubernator Arnold's dismissal of the flood control board who were outspoken against development in flood prone regions, the Sacto delta is now experiencing a housing boom. Previously these islands would be covered during floods and retain mineral sediments, also providing buffers for the river's seasonal flooding. The displacement of water from the islands by levees means more risk of flooding elsewhere. Development of wetlands increases the risk of flooding..

"In fact, 95% of the island is below mean high tide, and there are large portions of the proposed development area that are as much as 5 feet below sea level. Oakley is proposing to build 3,585 houses on the Hotchkiss Tract.

This project would pose a grave risk to the lives and property of its future residents, as well as to the approximately 500 residences already located on the site. Levee breaks regularly cause serious damage in the Delta region and Central Valley. In addition, the site's poorly-drained soils are subject to liquefaction during earthquakes, posing risks to structures and the levees."

This article below found at Save or Wetlands describes the effects of wetland loss due to development and increased flood risks from oil corporation canals..

The Corps Post-1965 Hurricane Barrier Plans Would Not have Saved New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina

How do we know the Corps plans would not have saved New Orleans?

Because Al Naomi, a senior project manager for the Corps, said the levees and control structures in the post-1965 plan were not big enough to control a surge and protect the city.

After Hurricane Betsy in 1965, plans developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect New Orleans from a strong hurricane were short-sighted and flawed.

The orginal Hurricane Barrier Project(HBP), which was to be an extension of the New Orleans levee system, was deemed legally inadequate by Judge Charles Schwartz, Jr. in 1977. The Corps of Engineers failed to follow up with an alternative plan or a proper Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which was also sensitive to the environmental stability of Lake Pontchartrain.

In the same L.A. Times article that Mr. Naomi notes the inadequecy of the levees and barriers, former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Counsel Joe Towers makes a misleading statement which unjustly accuses co-plaintiffs St. Tammany Parish Police Jury and Save Our Wetlands of stopping the Corps' 1977 Hurricane Barrier Project. "If we had built the barriers, New Orleans would not be flooded." It should be noted that it was ultimately the Corps' decision not to go ahead with the plan to build the HBP and that Judge Schwartz's injunction would be lifted if the Corps could provide the proper EIS.

Furthermore, Mr. Towers makes an untrue, wreckless and unjust statement about Judge Charles Schwartz, Jr.:

"My feeling was that saving human lives was more important than saving a percentage of shrimp and crab in Lake Pontchartrain," Towers said. "I told my staff at the time that this judge had condemned the city."

Considering what staff members from the Army Corps of Engineers just reported in the United States Government Accountability Office Report on the Army Corps of Engineers Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Barrier Project, Mr. Towers may want to reconsider what he said about Judge Schwartz. When it seems entirely possible that the Judge's decision to uphold the injunction has in fact saved an untold loss of property and human life.

Not only was the Corps of Engineers 1977 New Orleans District Hurricane Barrier Project(HBP), a poorly concieved plan for hurricane protection, it was also a scam to develop-drain wetlands under the guise of Hurricane protection. This HBP would have destroyed 28,000 acres of wetlands in New Orleans East for the Orlandia subdivision. Therefore, promoting development in hurricane tidal flood plains under the ruse of hurricane protection, profiting wealthy Texas oil barons, who owned this tract of New Orleans East wetlands at the time.

It also would have created 100's of millions of dollars for a particular dredging company, who was a big time campaign contributor to U.S. Congressman F. Edward Hebert, sponsor of this Pork Barrel bill. It would not have saved New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.

The Corps refusal to fill in the Mississippi River Gulf Coast Outlet(MRGO) (see Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, Land Loss, and the Threat of Hurricanes and Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the washout) and Bush's refusal to properly fund a more adequate structural levee protection system for New Orleans are the major culprits.

"During that time, appropriations have generally declined from about -20 million annually in the earlier years to about -7 million in the last three fiscal years. While this may not be unusual given the state of completion of the project, the Corps’ project fact sheet from May 2005 noted that the President’s budget request for fiscal years 2005 and 2006, and the appropriated amount for fiscal year 2005 were insufficient to fund new construction contracts." Source: United States Government Accountability Office Report on the Army Corps of Engineers Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Barrier Project

See: United States of Shame and Politicians Failed Storm Victims

Another major villain are the hundreds of oil company canals dug thru the wetlands of St. Bernard-Plaquemines Parishes. The salt water erosion of these canals gave hurricane Katrina a deadly highway thru Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans East, Chalmette and on to the lower 9th ward of New Orleans.

See: Canals and Channels are the Cause of Wetland Loss and Resolutions of Save Our Wetlands Inc. (SOWL)

SOWL is pushing for the state of Louisiana to sue the oil companies for the 100's of billions of dollars of damages their thousands of oil company canals have reaped and eroded upon Louisiana's coastal line.

In 1977 the St. Tammany Parish Police Jury joined with SOWL as plaintiffs to stop the Corps New Orleans hurricane barrier project. One of St. Tammany Parish's major concerns was that a force 4 or 5 major hurricane would top the barriers, and the floodwaters would not be able to flush back into the Gulf of Mexico.

It should also be noted that the taxpayers of New Orleans voted overwhelmingly on two different elections against funding this project in spite of the huge political push by Guy Le Mieux, then president of the Orleans Levee Board.

The plaintiffs proved that the Corps lied by misrepresenting their own internal engineering report in violation of the National Environmental Policy Protection Act.

See: Order- Judge Schwartz's Decision 1977

Because it would have affected the salinity and veloicity flow of Lake Pontchtrain,the HBP would also have destroyed the Lakes Maurepas Pontchtrain Catherine Borgne(MPCB) eco system.

SOWL's injunction, which eventually resulted in the halting of developing 28,000 acres of wetlands. This land would have been used to create the extremely low-lying Orlandia subdivision in New Orleans East. This action eventually saved the wetlands, which are presently located in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge Center. This is the largest urban wildlife park in the world. And as wetlands acted as a buffer-barrier to the tidal surges of Hurricane Katrina This area was severely flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

Imagine the additional destruction and loss of human lives Hurricane Katrina would have caused, if Save Our Wetlands Inc.(SOWL) had not enjoined this pork barrel Hurricane Barrier Project scheme, which would have resulted in a 28,000 acres Orlandia New Orleans East wetlands- Texas oil barons flood plain hurricane-tidal surge- housing development.

Also in 1974, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans Division, was engaged in criminally diking-damning-permitting 5,200 acres of navigable public owned Louisiana waterbottoms on the North shores of Lake Pontchtrain in Slidell, Louisiana, St. Tammaqny Parish.

See: History of the Eden Isles, Oak Harbor & North Shore Estate subdivisions in Slidell Louisiana

In 1974, SOWL filed suit attempting to get a U.S. Special Grand Jury investigation against the Corps for illegally and criminally diking-damning Louisiana navigable waterways, resulting in the Eden Isle Subdivision.

See: Drained Wetlands: How Infirm a Foundation?

SOWL also requested a moratorium on all permits in the Lakes MPCB eco-system until such time that a proper regional cumulative environmental impact study could be conducted under the National Environmental Policy Act. If SOWL had obtained this study, there's a possibility that Hurricane Katrina's damages could have been hundreds of billions dollars less to the American taxpayers, and the loss of life could have been less.

These continual illegal actions by the Corps in cahoots with everybody from Louisiana's 1970's former Lieutenant Governor & his law partners, the former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney, the former Louisiana State Attorney General William Guste to Governors Edwin Edwards & Mike Foster to the Bush Savings Loan Scandal U.S. Regional Trust Corp.(RTC) to the present St. Tammany Parish Council has resulted in the disatrous destruction of the Eden Isle-Oak Harbor-Lakeshore Estates subdivisions.

See: Oak Harbor East Fight Continues with Lawsuit and Land Developers, Corps Ruin Lake?

These billion dollar subdivisions, built smack dab in the midst of a hurricane tidal surge, destroyed 5,200 acres of a vast Louisiana natural economic resource. Hurricane Katrina greatly obliterated Eden Isle, Oak Harbor and Lakeshore Estates.

And what was once the 5,200 acres of wetlands, which acted as a flood buffer-barrier to the city of Slidell with a population of 30,000 was also drained for these subdivisions. And therefore the old historic town of Slidell has been devastated.

See: City's Defenses Weakened, Ignored

Wetlands absorb and slow down incoming tidal surge like a sponge. Urban sprawl such as subdivisions create a flat hard area where tidal surge just flows and flows further inland unheaded. If an inadequate levee is also added to this urban sprawl then you get a concrete bowl just like in New Orleans East where the water still sits.

See: Letter:: June 12, 2004 to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Unfortunately now, Hurricane Katrina is forcing us as a nation and people to see and confront the lies and actions of an ugly evil empire.

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