Misleading information posted to internet by cadre at Army Corps of Engineers about New Orleans flooding

Below is a small sample taken from thousands of comments posted by individuals confirmed to originate at various times during 2008 from computers at the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District.  Levees.org confirmed them using free software available to any amateur blogger.

Hiding their identities, a large group of people at the Corps masqueraded as citizens and posted abusive comments and lies to the online affiliate of the region’s leading news source – the Times Picayune.

For over three years, these posts had the combined effect of shifting responsibility for the Corps’ destructive and deadly levee failures during Katrina away from itself and onto the citizens of metro New Orleans.

Attempting to determine the full extent of this unethical use of the Times Picayune’s user engagement features, Levees.org asked the media outlet in March 2009 to provide the comments that originated from the Corps.  (We requested only the comments, not the identities of the commenters.)  The Times Picayune’s lawyer responded that even though there is no law preventing them from releasing the data, they are withholding it anyway.

Click here for WWL TV Channel 4 Eyewitness News story.

Levees.org believes every citizen in America should be outraged that a sizable number at the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District, tasked by Congress to be our Guardian and protect us, appear to be attacking us.

Nov. 20, 2008

Blog post: New Orleans: the City that Civil Engineers Forgot

let’s see – Lakeview was pretty much fully developed by the 1970s. There were no corps levees in place on the outfall canals until the mid 1990s. so that means that people in Lakeview were living over 10 feet below sea level, many on slabs with NO PROTECTION!
If the corps floodwalls had never been built Lakeview and the rest of the city would have still flooded. so what were you people doing living BELOW sea level, on SLAB houses with no protection. Sure, blame the corps for the floodwall failures, but who do you blame for your own stupidity for putting your families in such a situation. That’s like letting your child play in the street and then complaining when a speeding car kills him. sure the car shouldn’t have been speeding but your irresponsiblity put your child at risk in the first place.

Posted by overwrought on 12/11/08 at 5:55PM

Note from Levees.org:  The commenter above blaming the citizens of Lakeview for living there.

There you go again, Sandy, with another amateurish posting. Let’s examine your argument:
1. Only a handful of civil engineers have stepped forward to castigate the US Army Corps of Engineers – That must really get your goat since you are so convinced that the Corps shoulders all responsibility for the damages suffered during Katrina. But we’ve already hashed this out, so I’ll move on.

2. In the Levees.org parallel universe, the solution to this “problem” is quite obvious – The evil Corps, which is so inept at engineering, is brilliantly successful at punishing critics. Yes, that must be it because otherwise any self-respecting engineer would jump at the opportunity to “publicly rebuke and berate the Corps of Engineers for its well documented gross negligence.” Do you even know the definition of gross negligence? And who has documented such….

Posted by stevonawlins 12/03/08 at 6:03PM

Note from Levees.org:  The commenter above is making a personal attack against a corps critic and also making an untrue statement.  Levees.org has never claimed the Corps “shoulders all responsibility for the damages suffered during Katrina.”

And nonewsladder , I am sorry but the vitriol is coming from you. Fact – Lakeview was fully developed before the corps constructed any floodwalls. Fact – the homes in lakeview are 10-15 feet below sea level. Fact – many of these homes are built on slabs. The question is who allowed this to happen? It wasn’t the Corps but developers and our local officials that encouraged people to live in highly risky areas. The only hate I see is coming from your post. Face the facts and let go of your anger.

Ms R.
The floodwalls along the canals were not cheaper. the gates at the head of the canals were cheaper. Congress passed a law in 1992 that REQUIRED the Corps to not construct the gates but instead construct the floodwalls. This is law , this is fact. If the Corps had gotten its way, floodwalls would not have ben constructed but gates at the mouths of the canals would have been built instead. This is fact.

Posted by overwrought on 12/12/08 at 1:45PM

Note from S. Rosenthal: the highlighted section of the comment above is false and an apparent deliberate misinterpretation of the Energy and Appropriations Act of 1992.  This is a clear example of someone at the Corps of Engineers obscuring the Corps’ responsibility for the catastrophic failure of the 17th Street Canal.

Nov. 14, 2007

News Video: Controversial Levees.org video

Shame on Sandy for using her kid for a cheap publicity stunt. Obviously her group has NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER and so she put her own child up to making a video of SLANDER and INNUENDO. You can’t just call Asce liars and think they aren’t going to defend themselves. Sandy obviously told those kids what to say and set them up for the kill. What’s Asce supposed to do? Let Sandy run around and lie about them? Of course they sent her a letter warning her to stop. And of course she had to comply–not because she doesn’t have the money because god knows people would throw money all over her to help defend her. No, the truth is it’s Sandy who is the liar. Prove me wrong. Let’s see the facts.

Posted by swain at 11:36PM

Note from Levees.org: The commenter above is verbally abusing Levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal after her group produced and uploaded a satire spoofing the cozy relationship between the Corps of Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

July 29, 2008

Article: New floodwall to run along Jeff, St. Charles parish line

Well if you ever bother to look at the St. Charles Parish side of the floodwall you would see wetlands that are more water than soil. Big earthen levees are heavy and will sink out of sight. They don’t sink along the river because the foundation is better. It is difficult to design because we are living on extremely bad soils. Anyone that doesn’t understand this is simply totally misinformed.

Posted by overwrought on 07/29/08 at 10:27PM

Note from Levees.org:  The commenter above is saying that civil engineers cannot design reliable structures on this region’s soils which is false.   Further, the commenter disparages anyone who disagrees.

May 02, 2008

Article: Judge: Corps can be sued for flood

Hooray! Now we can waste more time and effort on endless lawsuits that are doomed to failure. Newsflash: The Corps, LSU and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources have all concluded that the shipping channel had only a negligible effect on Katrina’s storm surge. The funnel everyone loves to talk about is the two levees, one along the MRGO and the other along the GIWW, that trap the storm surge and make it shoot into the inner harbor canal. The MRGO shipping channel does nothing.
We really need to move forward, people.

Posted by swain at 10:48PM

May 19, 2008

Forum discussion: levee leak and safety

The most famous proof of Bea’s madness is when he saw a water puddle on the side of the street in the 9th Ward and told a reporter from National Geographic that it was definitely seepage from the Industrial Canal. The reporter asked how can you be sure? It just looks like ordinary gutter water. Bea said, “You can taste it.” And he did. He leaned over and scooped up a taste. Oh yes, the acclaimed doctor said, that’s no ordinary gutter swill. That’s vintage canal water. A brackish bouquet with just the right taste of salt. This entire episode was posted on the National Geographic web site WITH A VIDEO, but when they realized what quackery this was they removed it. That’s just one example of his nuttiness.

posted by swain 7:15 ET

Note from Levees.org: The commenter targets Bob Bea, University of California, Berkeley. Professor Bea, as co-chair of an independent levee study post Katrina, was frequently critical of the corps.

May 29, 2008

Article: Third party to sort out seepage at 17th Street canal

What I want to know is, who is going to be on this Independent Team of Engineers?
First off, it can’t be anybody from the Corps, or anybody who used to work for the Corps, or anybody who might one day work for the Corps.
It also can’t be anybody from the levee board or ASCE since nobody will trust them. It can’t be Professor Bea because he’s a paid consultant on the lawsuit. It can’t be anybody local, either, because then they’ll be accused of bias if they flooded or knew someone who flooded or died.
And then it has to be somebody who will work FOR FREE, because you know Sandy will excoriate any report that comes from somebody who gets paid to provide an opinion (unless of course the results support her opinions).
Who does that leave????

Posted by swain at 10:39PM

Note from Levees.org: the commenter is claiming that Louisiana soils cannot support the levees designed and built by the Corps of Engineers.

July 31, 2008

Article: Court allows tree cutting along 17th Street Canal

Overwrought and lawlsu, you are exactly correct. Tuffcookie, the document you seek is state law. Your arguments are on the level of a C- high school civics paper and then you resort to Corps-bashing. Must be reassuring to be so certain in your simple understanding of property rights and so much smarter than the engineers and scientists who are working long hours to protect you from your own ignorance.

Posted by StevoNawlins on 08/01/08 at 9:23AM

Note from Levees.org: The commenter is attacking a proponent of the 17th Street Canal Coalition, a citizens group opposed to the Corps of Engineers seizing their land without compensation.

Aug 20, 2008

Article: Independent probe of New Orleans outfall canal pumps sought

Freepress11 is correct. but it is worse than that. Our local officials went to Cogress and got legislation that DIRECTED the Corps not to build the closure gates on the outfall canals, but instead to build the floodwalls that we have now. So the whole mess is a direct result of politians deciding what’s best for the citizens overruling common sense.

Posted by overwrought on 10:35AM

Note from Levees.org: the above is a flagrant misinterpretation of the Energy and Appropriations Act of 1992 and an apparent deliberate attempt to misinform the public.

Oct. 15, 2008

Article: Industrial Canal lock price tag now estimated at $1.3 billion

Xman & Neilcos,
You guys got it right – this project is essential for the future vitality of New Orleans as a major port and the entire nation’s shallow-draft navigation system. The immediate construction of this new lock should be championed by our local political leadership for the many local jobs and numerous other benefits that would come from this $1.3 Billion project. Imagine the devastated Lower Ninth Ward revitalized by a project of this magnitude if our “leaders” would simply roll up their sleeves and make this project work for the citizens of New Orleans, rather than the non-stop begging for handouts from the rest of the nation.
But that probably won’t happen because of the determined opposition of a handful of left-wing interests (Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, Holy Cross Nghd Assoc, Gulf Restoration Network, etc.) with their own selfish agendas, exaggerated claims and complaints, and distortions of facts. It’s quite clear that some folks simply want to keep things as they are…that sucking sound you hear is the slow, agonizing death of our city.

Posted by stevonawlins at 8:34AM

Note from Levees.org: The commenter is targeting Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, Gulf Restoration Network all of which have criticized the Corps of Engineers.

Oct. 24, 2008

Blog post: See you at the New Orleans Institute

S. Rosenthal,
Are you so blinded by your antipathy towards the Corps that you can not truly understand the problems? In your simplistic world view, all of us who built or bought homes below sea level are faultless, local governments and elected federal officials who failed to make flood protection a priority are without fault. It sure makes life simple if you can blame our situation on the dastardly folks at the Corps of Engineers who are just too dumb or mean-spirited to build proper flood protection.

Posted by stevonawlins at 2:16PM

Ms. Rosenthal,
I don’t dispute your litany of Corps failures but where were the state and city governments when these errors were made? What about us citizens who were warned repeatedly about our risk exposure but chose not to make flood control a priority? Where was Dollar Bill and our Senators when more funding was requested by the Corps but never delivered? Are we helpless wards of the federal government or should we take some responsibility for our situation? Stay vigilant on the Corps but make sure you work to address the local and state issues as well.

Posted by stevonawlins at 2:23PM

Sandy,
If telling the truth is your mission, then I suggest you have some work to do as well. The public would be better served by truly responsible advocacy. Your performance to date suggests that you have chosen Corps-bashing as your mission with the expectation that when you manage to persuade enough under-informed people that Katrina was a federal flood, then the rest of the nation will pour even more money into the sinkhole of New Orleans.

Posted by stevonawlins at 12:35AM

Dec. 6, 2008

Article: Category 5 hurricane protection plan is delayed again

The Corps was trying to study Cat 5 preKatrina but our wonderful congressional reps never could get them any money to do the job. The corps was lucky to get $100,000 to do a multimillion dollar study. what you folks don’t understand is that the powers that be in Washington don’t want to fund this. the current administraction is very happy to delay this report until the next president comes on board then it’s his problem. It will force Obama to live up to his commitment to Cat 5 protection when he was running. And guess what – he will have his adminsistration delay and delay due to the economy and the war. That’s because they don’t want to pay the billions that this will take. Yo can blame the Corps all you want but bottom line is that the Corps works for the president(who ever he is) and will not submit a report that the president doesn’t support. Politics rules the day, just like politics made the Corps build floodwalls along the outfall canals instead of structures at the lakefront like they orginally proposed.

Posted by overwrought on 12/07/08 at 4:56PM

Note from Levees.org: The commenter above is misquoting the Energy and  Appropriations Act of 1992.  The claim that the corps was “forced by local politics to abandon their originally proposed plan to build floodgates” at the outfall canals in New Orleans has become a persistent myth that is unsupported by any concrete evidence.

Dec. 12, 2008

Blog post: The Myth of the Lakeview Butterfly Gates

Congress forcing the construction of floodwalls on the outfall canals increased the costs by $100 million. That’s your federal taxes as well as local taxes. By the way the local share is 30% not 25%. Seems your “facts” are a creation of your own mind.
and “the drainage canals became part of the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection” only when Congress passed that law. Until that time the drainage canals were not a part of the project. Congress at the request of local officials made them a part of the project which set the stage for Katrina.

Posted by overwrought on 12/13/08 at 12:22PM

Note from Levees.org: The commenter above is apparently trying to defend the Corps of Engineers poor floodwall design at the 17th Street Canal by suggesting that the Corps “didn’t want to do it” and so that is why their designs failed.

December 18, 2008

Article: New computer storm model condemns role MRGO played in Katrina flooding

Ivor has a new computer model and a study paid for by the lawyers. Yeah, rite. He’s not even an engineer. Let me know what happens when it undergoes independent peer review.

Posted by swain on 12/18/08 at 10:25PM

okctomsy0010, You don’t have to be an engineer to understand that you should not get engineering advice from someone who is not an engineer. Ivor works at the LSU hurricane center, but he’s not an engineer. Period. He’s the Director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.
If there’s litigation about how you got dysentery after Katrina, I guess he’s your man. But if you want someone to give an expert opinion on flood hydraulics and concrete wall construction, Ivor is no more qualified than Joe the Plumber.

Posted by swain on 12/19/08 at 11:25PM

Note from Levees.org: The commenter is targeting Ivor van Heerden who has been a frequent critic of the Corps of Engineers before and after the August 2005 storm.

Feb. 16, 2009

LTE: “Anti-stimulus vote tough but justified, Cao says

Plugging the MRGO will do absolutely nothing to protect St. Bernard from future flooding. This is a pure “feel good” project and political grandstanding by parish officials.
Hey, what about the levee that really protects St. Bernard? When is that going to be raised to the 100 year level of protection? They haven’t even started building that yet. Complete by 2011??? NO FRIGGIN WAY.

Posted by swain on 03/26/09 at 10:51PM

June 5, 2009

Article: U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu: U.S. should adopt Netherlands-like policies for flood control

The Senator is correct: we should adopt the Netherlands plan. That includes better water management inside the levees, like “retaining lakes” to store rainfall. But wait, we talked about that back in 2005, didn’t we? And when they printed maps in the newspaper showing possible areas where people would *not* be allowed to rebuild, remember the great wailing and gnashing of teeth?
And the Dutch also require floating houses in the lowest areas of the country. Why don’t we have that here? Heck, you can’t even convince people to elevate 3 lousy feet.
Yes, I support the Senator’s plans. I say, Bring it On. But will New Orleans, and Chalmette, and the Lower 9th ward go along with this sensible plan? I doubt it.

Posted by swain on 06/05/09 at 9:54PM

Apr. 17, 2008

Article: ASCE urges corps to tell residents of continuing flood risk

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that today’s letter from ASCE is just one of many over the past two years in which the highly respected engineering society calls the Corps of Engineers to task and points out errors and oversights.But of course, the Times-Picayune doesn’t write about the many prior letters. They mostly just print Sandy’s wild and unsubstantiated accusations.

Posted by swain on 04/18/08 at 3:32PM

A cute video, but I’m afraid evidence means EVIDENCE, not just Sandy’s endless allegations. This is starting to sound a lot like the 9-11 “conspiracy” and the “fake” moon landing…

Posted by swain on 04/19/08 at 11:09PM

Sept. 20, 2008

Article: Scientists looking for better ways to predict storm surge

Yeah we don’t need any more studies. Let’s not confuse ourselves with facts. Let’s remeber it was the people of LA that wanted the MRGO built in the first place, it was the people of LA that wanted the oil industry to come to this state, it was the people of this state that let them cut pipeline canals through the wetlands, it was the people of LA that wanted the river levees built so the wetlands would starve, And now it is the people of LA that want good ole Uncle Sam to pay billions of dollars to fix what we wanted in the first place. We still have our tin cup out and expect Uncle to bail us out of the mess that we got ourselves into. May god forgive us.

Posted by overwrought on 11:18AM

April 10, 2008

Forum discussion: Want to be scared?

The river is forecast to crest at 17, a good 3 feet lower than the levee top. It’s already at 16.5, so do you think 6 inches is going to kill you? Plus, the spillway is going to open and the stage will drop. Take a deep breath, open a beer, and go back to watching Judge Judy…

Posted by swain 17:25 ET

May 21, 2008

Update: Leaky New Orleans levee alarms experts

Seepage at the 17th Street canal breach location? Who cares?
When a storm comes, we’ll shut the gate!
Problem solved. That was easy.
You may now turn your attention to the next fabricated crisis that sells newspapers and drives the TV ratings.

Posted by swain at 11:50PM

Aug 03, 2008

Article: ‘100-year’ storm moniker misleading, experts say

Congress and the Administration decided that N.O. gets so-called 100-year protection. That’s 1% chance of flooding in any year. They would have to approve any higher level of protection. 1000-year proection means 0.1% chance of flooding in any year. But remember, you cannot eliminate the risk. No matter what you build, there is a storm out there that could overtop the levees. So the question is…how much do you want to pay to reduce the risk? and who pays it?

Posted by overwrought 1:12PM

Aug 20, 2008

Article: Levee officials decry corps’ dual pumping plan

Hey, Sheila, are you blind??? The S&WB operates “tandem” and “dual” pumps every day of the week!!! That big pump station on Broad and Washington pumps into the Palmetto Canal, which feeds the 17th Street canal pumps. There’s another pump station on Broad that pumps north to the London Canal pumping station.
They’ve been doing this for almost 100 years but suddenly it’s “risky” and it requires “delicate synch.” OMG THE SKY IS FALLING! Nice headline grabbing.

Posted by swain on 08/20/08 at 6:24PM