Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, Rep Patrick Connick and Sandy Rosenthal shown in 2017. Photo/Ralph Madison
Every anniversary of the worst civil engineering disaster in US history is worth full observance.
We are surprised that we missed this story about Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco published a year ago.
But we are glad the story by the Associated Press was brought to our attention.
In the story, which marked the passing of Governor Blanco, we are drawn to this statement by current Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards:
“She [Kathllen Blanco] led Louisiana through one of our darkest hours, when hurricanes and the failure of the federal levee system devastated much of our state,” Edwards said in a statement Sunday.
It is encouraging when our leaders take the time to get the story right about what nearly destroyed New Orleans in August 2005 during Hurricane Katrina.
Thank you Governor Edwards. Because words do matter.
For the full story, click here.
Levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal has released the second of four excerpts from her upcoming book, Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina (Mango Publishing, August 2020).
The excerpt is called Just Seven Weeks. It comes from Chapter 3; The Fairy Tale.
Seven weeks after the 2005 flood, despite four different investigating teams, the surface had yet to be scratched on the who, what, where, and why of the levee-breach event. If one were to count the breaches on a graphic map created by the Army Corps, they would find a total of 52 breaches in the region.[i] It was simply not possible for any human being or group of human beings to explain what happened in so complex a scenario. Communication lines were still down, breaches needed to be plugged, and roads were impassable. Truth be told, it would be many years before all the facts were laid out for everyone to see.
Yet, just seven weeks after the 2005 flood, a small group of business people had decided where the fault lay. They called themselves the Business Council of New Orleans. On the day the floodwalls broke, this group had no phone number, no staff, no meeting minutes, no list of expenses, and no membership list. But, with the city barely dewatered, they had apparently already decided that blame belonged to local officials — people whose chief responsibility regarding floodwalls and levees was maintaining them after the Army Corps built them. By October 20, while some souls were yet to be discovered in their attics, this group had already devised a plan to reorganize the way levee officials (the Orleans Levee Board) were selected.[ii]
In this podcast created by Storycorps for the New Orleans Tricentennial, Stanford Rosenthal and his mother talk about the icons of New Orleans culture as well as the investigative project––Levees.org––and Stanford’s critical role in co-founding it.
Storycorps is an independently funded nonprofit organization whose mission is to “preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”
The podcast with Stanford and Sandy Rosenthal came about as a collaboration between Greater New Orleans, Inc., the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and Storycorps in honor of the Tricentennial. The podcast was recorded in January of 2018.