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When the levee breaks January 31, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Corps of Engineers, Flood, flooding, levee, New Orleans, NOLA, Sinn Fein, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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See those dots and shaded areas? If you live there, you need to know this: there is no act of incomptence or malice for which the Corps of Engineers can be held liable should your levees (or dikes or whatever you choose to call them) fail. Thousands may die, and hundreds of billions of dollars of damage may be done, and the fault can clearly be that of the Corps, but you have no recourse.

You may think it was just some fluke of indolent and corrupt New Orleans. Think again. Locals basically mowed the grass on those levees, that’s all. Those levees and floodwals were a clear Federal responsibility. And they were not up to the required design specification. Not even close. Are your levees up to standard?

If not (and you won’t really know until you have to start cutting that hole in your attic to escape from drowning), then based on our experience I suggest you begin to evacuate these areas immediately. If you don’t drown, the best you might get (outside of what flood insurance might pay) is on the order of ten or fifteen cents on the dollar. And nothing should you die. That is what New Orleans has received, and I can’t imagine why you would expect any more.

I know most of you don’t have flood insurance. Louisiana had one of the highest compliance rates in the nation. I didn’t carry flood insurance when I lived in Fargo behind 40-foot high dikes and well below the flood stage of the Red River at its worst case. Do you have flood insurance? Do you have a plan for rebuilding your life out of the proceeds of that insurance and that insurance only? If your house and contents are worth more than $150,000 what then? If you owe more than that, are you ready to continue to pay the mortage on a ruin where you can’t live? Do you have enough life insurance should you drown so your family could make that payment on the hole in the ground that used to be your house after you’ve drowned?

If I were you, I would get that for sale sign up today. Or you can join us in demanding that the Corps of Engineers be held responsible for their clear and admitted negligence and that all of the levees in this country be built to do their job, and that the Corps be held responsible if they are not.

Note: I have resisted falling back on Led Zeppelin for a title or even a quote out for two-and-a-half years, but I just couldn’t avoid or resist this time.


1. liprap - January 31, 2008

Hey, the Led Zep quoting had to happen sometime. Though I challenge you to come up with something having to do with “Traveling Riverside Blues”, “Immigrant Song”, or “The Ocean”. 😉


2. Adrastos - January 31, 2008

The little bird was right and your email still seems wacked out. See ya tomorrow.


3. Brown - February 3, 2008

Would love for you to drop a comment to my senior class studying New Orleans

check out:



4. Markus 2 - February 9, 2008

You are full of crap. USACE had nothing to do with this failure. In case you didn’t know, man is not perfect otherwise we’d all be sitting next to JESUS in heaven. The levees failed because they topped out with katrina’s forces being well above the safety factor design level. Get a damn grip you animals.


5. terminator - March 15, 2008

Marcus, it is very well KNOWN that the levees were not topped. The failure was in the design and construction. Read all of the books available on that subject , a good one is The Storm by Ivor Van Heerden. Yes, it can and will happen to you one day.
Beware of the system, it can be and is evil !!! Profit is the god of america


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