A carefully researched story by Pulitzer prize winner Mark Schleifstein describes how immediately after the flooding event, independent levee investigators were told incorrect information by “various members of the corps New Orleans district.”
For example, Drs. Raymond Seed and J. David Rogers–the lead investigators for a study funded by the National Science Foundation–were told that the design of the 17th Street and London Avenue Canals was “forced” on the Army Corps of Engineers against their will.
This and other wrong information caused the investigators to conclude that the Orleans Levee Board was partly to blame for the collapse of the canal walls during Katrina.
Drs. Seed, Rogers and others now say it was the the Army Corps of Engineers that doomed New Orleans because the corps had made a tragic miscalculation on a large-scale study they did in the 1980s.
“The corps misinterpreted the study’s findings, concluding that sheet piling that extended deeper would not significantly increase the stability of the I-walls under the short-term loading conditions during a hurricane, meaning the amount of time high water would be on the wall would likely only be a few hours.”
The paper also reconfirms that responsibility for the infamous annual “drive by levee inspections” belonged solely to the corps, and at the end of the day were irrelevant anyway.