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Thursday, March 02, 2006
 
Levee Story

The AP tries to breathe new life into the levee story by claiming that a video shows Bush being briefed a few days before Katrina hit, on the possibility of the levees being breached.

Bush declared four days after the storm, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" that gushed deadly flood waters into New Orleans. He later clarified, saying officials believed, wrongly, after the storm passed that the levees had survived. But the transcripts and video show there was plenty of talk about that possibility even before the storm - and Bush was worried too.

But as usual with these stories, when you look into it, the real concern is not a breach, but the overtopping of the levees:

The National Hurricane Center's Mayfield told the final briefing before Katrina struck that storm models predicted minimal flooding inside New Orleans during the hurricane but he expressed concerns that counterclockwise winds and storm surges afterward could cause the levees at Lake Pontchartrain to be overrun.

"I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern," Mayfield told the briefing.Other officials expressed concerns about the large number of New Orleans residents who had not evacuated.


I did a long post back in September on this subject.

Note that Byron Calame, Public Editor of the New York Times checked his paper's pre-Katrina coverage of the possibility of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans and concluded:

Levees obviously remain a central issue in the crisis. As experts expected, Katrina showed that a Category 4 or 5 hurricane would send water over the top of the city's levees and flood its below-sea-level "bowl." But the breaches in levees and canal walls made things dramatically worse and raised broader questions about the area's flood control system.

What had The Times's news columns provided over the past decade to help its readers understand the New Orleans levee system? One major article that focused on levees. The 2,100-word article on the front of the Science section in 2002 made clear that a Category 4 or 5 hurricane would send water over the top of the levees. While the public editor's focus is on news coverage, there was also an Editorial Observer commentary in 2002 that took a detailed look at the problem, based on reporting in New Orleans. But neither the news article nor the editorial commentary prepared readers for the possibility of breaches in the levees or canal walls.


Wizbang has some excellent coverage on this issue as well.

Also, check out the deception going on here at a fairly large liberal blog:

Rob, the man said after the Hurricane, "No one expected... yada yada..." And here he is ON FREAKIN' TAPE being TOLD what to expect?

The "yada yada" is of course intended to deceive readers of that blog (like the AP story) into believing that Bush was warned about what exactly happened. BTW, after I left my first comment there, noting that he was misleading his readers, I attempted to engage him in debate, but (not surprisingly) my comment was blocked. Try to counter a liberal blog with facts and you will quickly be banned.

Note as well this New York Times article:

In the videoconference held at noon on Monday, Aug. 29, Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reported that he had spoken with President Bush twice in the morning and that the president was asking about reports that the levees had been breached.

But asked about the levees by Joe Hagin, the White House deputy chief of staff, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana said, "We have not breached the levee at this point in time." She said "that could change" and noted that the floodwaters in some areas in and around New Orleans were 8 to 10 feet deep. Later that night, FEMA notified the White House that the levees had been breached.


That's a curious phrase: "We have not breached the levee...". I suspect what Blanco was talking about was the possibility that has been discussed many times, of breaching the levees intentionally so as to drain water out of the city.
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