Archive for the 'katrina' Category

New Orleans housing activists beaten, maced

Posted by mikedaum on December 20th, 2007

This just breaks my heart. Two years and change since Katrina and where are we in the recovery? The government is trying in earnest to remove the possibility of poor people returning to their homes by systematically destroying public housing in New Orleans. People stood up today to say it wasn’t right, and they were rewarded with mace, tasers and beatings from police. You really must see the video to get the flavor of the injustice. While you’re watching…try to remember Bush speaking in Jackson Square after the disaster:

That is our vision for the future, in this city and beyond: We’ll not just rebuild, we’ll build higher and better.

Should have known the bastard was talking about Condos.

Update: NYT coverage, Live blogging of the vote at

Update #2: The vote has not taken place yet, but as of 10 minutes ago, a majority of the council have indicated that they will vote to approve the demolitions

Update #3: Vote results are in.  It’s unanimous!  7-0 in favor of smashing the public housing.  Now home to drink.

Katrina Anniversary

Posted by mikedaum on August 29th, 2007

Two years ago today, Katrina made landfall. The levees broke, and my home town was destroyed. President Bush spent the morning thumbing around on a guitar with some country music star who’s name I forget…or never knew.

Today Bush is in New Orleans again for his picture taking and empty promises. There is nothing I can say to express my rage and disappointment.

Shelley Midura, a New Orleans councilwoman, sent an open letter to Bush yesterday, which I hope everyone will read. It incredibly captures the bitterness and frustration of the current situation without descending into the dark pit of fury and anger. She’s well spoken and reasonable, and displays the kind of leadership which New Orleans has sorely lacked. So I’ll let her words speak for themselves.

Excellent Katrina writeup

Posted by mikedaum on August 27th, 2007

With Wednesday being Katrina-day, there’s gonna be a veritable flood of hand-wringing and other assorted wanking.  So be it, but let’s take the good with the bad.  Here’s an excellent piece by Brian Schwaner, the AP’s Louisiana news editor.

Levee Reconstruction Corruption

Posted by mikedaum on August 24th, 2007

Yesterday, bribery charges were laid against Raul Miranda: a former Army Corps of Engineers officials who was overseeing the reconstruction of levees in the New Orleans area. I was at least happy to see that the guy is from Houston, so if anyone actually picks this story up it will be harder to dismiss it as the same old Louisiana corruption. Less happy was I to see that Miranda is cooperating as part of a larger investigation. If the guy who took the $300k is the *small* fish, it’s terrifying to think of what they’re actually trolling for.

You can read more about it at NOLA-dishu, along with many other heartening tidbits about the sorry state of NOLA’s levees.

Study says New Orleans still at risk

Posted by mikedaum on June 21st, 2007


The Army Corps of Engineers have just released a study on flooding risks in NOLA due to hypothetical hurricanes.  As it is summarized in the New York Times, the study shows that the risk today is basically equivalent to the pre-Katrina risk — though some areas had improved while others had deteriorated.

The article and study make for interesting perusal, but I have to say I’m a bit dubious.  Firstly, though the jury is still out, the concept of a “1 in 100 year storm” &c may be a rapidly moving target due to global warming, making a Katrina-strength storm much more likely in the future than it was in the past.  The science isn’t there for us to know how climate change will effect hurricanes, but I’m afraid that by the time we have a conclusive model it will be far too late.  This is especially relevant as much of the improvement in flood protection seems targeted at the 1-in-100 storms, leaving the 1-in-400 flood risks more or less unchanged.

I’m also skeptical about the accuracy of this elevation-based flood modeling, which more or less assumes that water will be spread over the city in nice even layers.  If we learned anything from Katrina, it was that things fail in unpredictable, uneven ways.

My only hope then from this study is that because the insurers will certainly pay attention to it, it has the potential to affect rebuilding patterns.  To date it seems that so many balls have been dropped, and so many opportunities have been missed, that it’s hard to hope that anything sensible will emerge.  Nonetheless, money talks, and if insurers stop funding development in the flood zones there will be some pressure to do the right thing, which is to build sustainable communities on the natural high ground.

New Orleans Seeks International Aid

Posted by mikedaum on June 15th, 2007

Each and every time I see a headline about my hometown these days I have to steel myself against the seemingly inevitable heartbreak to follow. Today it happened twice.

First I read about FEMA trying to claw back $485 Million in Katrina aid. Now I won’t claim that every dollar in aid was spent in the best interest of the victims’ recovery, but don’t we have better things to do than go after these people when they’re down? How many minutes of the Iraq war will this fund? The recent budget supplemental was on the order of $70 billion as I recall…10 times the total amount of money spent so far on Katrina recovery, and 140 times the amount FEMA is trying to recover here; and the do-nothing Dems let that one skate into law without one single drop or whisper of a check or a balance. So stop nickling and diming and if you can’t help at least have the courtesy to get the hell out of the way.

Which leads us to the question of where the hell should NOLA look for recovery funds? Well, it seems Smarty Nagin has a bright idea: if the feds won’t cough up — maybe other countries will! That’s right…taking his cue from Fidel Castro’s offer of aid in the hurricane’s immediate wake, Nagin has begun talks with no less than 5 foreign countries to see if anybody wants to embarrass the U.S. by throwing a couple of shiny shekels into his hat. And it’s not just Nagin — Mary Landrieu is in the game as well. Get this: she’s talking to the government of Saudia Arabia to see if they’ll fund the reconstruction of City Park. One more time: the Democratic Senator for Louisiana is asking Saudia Arabia for money to fix City Park.

‘Nuff Said