So I called Galloway on his cell phone and asked him for it. Galloway told me he didn’t have it, that it was “probably in a file cabinet somewhere at FEMA” and that Levees.org should go ask FEMA for it. So we filled out a FOIA request, and six months later, we finally got our data.
For the record, Levees.org is not pleased that it took this much time and effort to get data that Galloway had very recently quoted in a congressional hearing.
At any rate, the first thing Levees.org noticed is the percent of the population protected by levees was not 43%, it was 55%. Big difference, and we promptly broadcast the information and the mountain of data, too.
Next, we commissioned a geographer, Ezra Boyd to analyze the huge data set. We were so excited about the results that we offered Mark Schleifstein of the New Orleans Times Picayune an exclusive to this story.
Schleifstein’s excellent piece was featured front page of the TP on Saturday Jan 2, 2010. The levee statistics and analysis shows that levees more than pay for themselves when their cost is compared to the investment they protect.
The analysis should quell any questioning of the wisdom of fixing metro New Orleans’ levees and rebuilding next to them.
The analysis also is further proof that, with so many Americans depending on levees, we need the 8/29 Review, a truly independent post disaster analysis of the flood protection failures in August 2005, and the decision making involved.