Corps of Engineers rewriting history on flooding and levee breaches

Journalist Georgianne Nienaber recently wrote on the coordinated effort immediately after the Midwest flooding by spokespersons with the US Army Corps of Engineers to deflect responsibility for flooding away from the Corps. Just like in New Orleans after Katrina.

I will add to the fray and highlight some falsehoods coming from Eric Halpin, Special Assistant for Dam and Levee Safety for the Corps of Engineers.

Halpin tried to rewrite New Orleans’ history this week in an interview with Popular Mechanics. PM asked Halpin this question, “So the midwest flooding isn’t about levee failure, like in New Orleans?” and Halpin responded with “…In New Orleans, we had 50 breaches. Forty-six were due to overtopping. In the upper Midwest, there are up to 35 overtoppings. All of the breaches we know about there are due to overtopping….In New Orleans, it took about a year and a half, and a million dollars, to find that 4 out of the 50 were failures. (italics mine)

Falsehood A – “4 out of the 50 were failures.”
The other 46 levee breaches happened because the Corps of Engineers built the levees two feet too low, didn’t armor them and in many places filled them with erodable sand instead of good thick Louisiana clay. So water quickly eroded them during several hours of overtopping. To say they were not failures is obscene. Levee building 101 says plan for water overtopping when building a levee next to water.

Falsehood B – “it took a million dollars”
The federal government paid (with taxpayers money) the US Army Corps of Engineers over $30 million to do the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET). The cost of the peer review alone cost was 1.1 million dollars! The IPET remains controversial because it was managed by the same organization responsible for its performance – the Corps.

Want to do something? Click here to demand the 8/29 Investigation Act to find out why New Orleans was so vulnerable to flooding on August 29, 2005. The result will be valuable to all of America.

Sandy Rosenthal
Founder, Levees.Org

Click here for the Popular Mechanics article.

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