A Brief Look in the Mirror
I'd like to expand on a reply I made to a post concerning prosecuting those responsible for the deaths resulting from failed civil works projects. If I understood I.D. Reily's post, he suggested Charles Foti dropped the ball by not prosecuting those responsible for the deaths resulting from the levee failures during Katrina. I disagreed (without name calling...imagine that) because:
It discourages new construction and out the box thinking. No one can argue that the New Orleans area levee system is unique, not just to the country but the world. Unlike levee constrution, highway and building design is taught in enginnering courses around the country. There are BMP's (best management practices) and volumes of research avalible for proper design of these structures. While similar BMP's exist for levees, this work is more modern and was untested until Katrina. If engineers have to worry about being prosecuted or sued by attempting unprecedented civil works projects, what person or contracting company is going to take on the job of protecting this city?
Double talk. If you ask to prosecute the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors at the same time as asking for CAT 5 levees then your talking out both sides of your mouth. Be consistent. BTW, double talk has been wide spread lately. Here's a few of my favorites:
- My favorite example of this is people who were critical of looters --- everyone knows a few. You know, the type of people who repeatedly take shots at those on welfare "because they take advantage of the system" or those stealing the TV's during the storm, but then when they got home after being gone for two weeks to their relatively unharmed home (for those who didn't flood) they applied for full FEMA assistance because all of a sudden "they deserved it". I still can't figure out whats worse, the people looting TV's or those critical while in line at Best Buy buying the same TV with left over FEMA money they didn't need. Funny how it's never "taking advantage of the system" when money and food stamps is offered to you.
- Another example is people being critical of Californians who built in known landslide areas. I admit, I'm guilty of this one. I was one of the one's before the storm pointing fingers saying "how could people live in those areas" and "people shouldn't rebuild in that area." My perspective really changed when I was traveling post-K and people asked the same questions. I know many bias readers would disagree, but us/we living in flood prone metro New Orleans are no different than those living in California where they are just as prone to landsides.
Enough with the finger pointing. Take SOME responsibility for the area you choose to reside. Its almost been a year, time to move on with your life and rebuild or just plain move to an area with less vulnerablity.
Once THE event took place, many people played the Jeff Spicoli card, "I don't know" ---Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I hope you already knew that. Now that this has happened no one can play stupid and get off by saying "I didn't know." I'd argue 99% of the people reading this post had some idea of the risks involved with living in this area unless you somehow missed the T-P spreads, hour news specials on the issue, National Geographic editions, coastal experts, etc., etc. predicting this event. If you knew before the storm that levees would eventually be toppled or broken pre-K, then while pointing fingers and playing the blame game, be consistant and hold yourself partially accountable.
In case you "didn't know" the history of levees, do a five minute google search... THEY BREAK.
In my opinion, you can't hold engineers liable for known engineering liabilities. To think engineers purposely designed something to fail is ridiculous. They used the best science currently available, ran those numbers and built what they could within an approved budget.
TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Flooding, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Levees