John Barry, ambassador to New Orleans, gets the seal of approval

Citizens gather next to New Orleans Corps of Engineers building Jan 21, 2006 for kickoff rally

Thanks to our beloved Saints, New Orleans and south Louisiana is enjoying some attention by the national spotlight.

John Barry, normally an excellent ambassador for south Louisiana, outdid himself on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show today.

Barry, author of Rising Tide, did not let himself be distracted by questions that bring focus to the wrong place. In response to Maddow’s well meaning but off track question “Was Katrina more than a 100 storm?” Barry quickly drew attention to the fact that, in New Orleans, the flooding was due to engineering mistakes, not a weather event. Here’s his response:

“…Katrina was a great storm but what flooded New Orleans was actually simply design failures by the Corps of Engineers when the flood wall collapsed on the drainage canals. They weren’t even overtopped; (the water) was 2 feet below the top and they just gave way. That was a design issue. …”

The water was actually 5 feet below the top of the floodwall, but Mr. Barry got his point across. He also shared some extremely interesting information about the Louisiana wetlands:

“…One of the things that gives (New Orleans) a good chance against rising sea level is the fact that this (wetlands) is a live living dynamic system. The marsh is alive. And if you give the marsh sediment from the river and fresh water, it will actually rise as sea level rises. That buffer will continue and come back….”

You can see the entire video here.

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