The east breach site of the London Avenue Canal. Photo/Andy Levin
Recently, Levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal and lead researcher H.J. Bosworth’s co-written letter was featured in The Advocate. Below is the original slightly longer version that was submitted.
“We closely observed the media reporting by the New Orleans District USACE after its levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. So we’re not surprised to learn from reporter Tristan Baurick that the corps personnel knew for decades of the potential for salt water intrusion as a result of dredging the Mississippi River.
“Apparently, now in 2023, there was little infrastructure or plans firmly in place to handle the predicted intrusion. This means that the underwater dam (or sill) must have been constructed at huge expense, along with the miles of temporary flexible pipelines. Emergency construction is always more expensive.
“We are suspicious of the corps’ putting the focus on the lack of rain as the culprit in the salt water intrusion crisis.
“We remember clearly how approximately thirty-six hours after the levee failures in 2005, the corps issued its first press release, stating that the agency believed the 17th Street Canal had been overtopped, which caused its collapse. (That claim was immediately proven false by eyewitnesses and later by multiple investigative teams.)
“That corps’ press release ended with this: “The New Orleans District’s 350 miles of hurricane levee were built to withstand a fast-moving Category 3 storm. The fact that Katrina, a category 4-plus hurricane, didn’t cause more damage is a testament to the structural integrity of the hurricane levee protection system.”
“The USACE seems to routinely have a cache of ‘explanations’ all written and ready to go. The corps also seems to have a trove of tricks up its sleeve.
“I think you should know that many folks in NOLA disagree with your views and have begun to organize in an effort to stop the dissemination of inaccurate information that organizations like yours put out. In our opinion, inciting anger in the residents of this great city does nothing but divide its people and hurt real progress for rebuilding the system.
“She signed it, “Concerned Citizen.”
“This was someone in a position of public trust, disguising their identity, pretending to be an impartial bystander and targeting a community mobilizer sounding the alarm over the corps’ culpability.
“Jumping forward to today, this recent explanation of unforeseen drought conditions is only a more recent example of the agency’s standard operating procedure of blaming anyone and anything except itself.”