Friday, June 02, 2006

Full overhaul of levee system needed. Times-Picayune Updates: "
“We say this was a system failure in that the system designed to protect New Orleans failed on many levels, but it also shows how the system — the business model — we use to build these things is so flawed,” said Ed Link, the University of Maryland professor who headed the task force. “The way we determine need, assess risk and go about funding and approving these things is based on a model that might have been appropriate for the way we lived 50 years ago, but is sorely outdated today.”
Link said Congress requires the corps to use an “American business model” that doesn’t measure the cost of failure in human lives and doesn’t free the corps quickly to adjust designs to changing environmental conditions. Those flaws proved catastrophic to New Orleans, a 288-year-old city built on a steadily sinking landscape repeatedly challenged by hurricanes.

“The system was authorized in 1965 and still wasn’t finished when Katrina hit 40 years later,” Link said. “It was funded in a piece-meal basis, and it was built in a piece-meal way. And even as subsidence caused changes in elevations — changes people were aware of — nothing was done. “This is not to offer excuses for any mistakes (in engineering or design) that were made. But it makes it almost impossible for the corps to adapt to problems when they occur.” "

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