THE BLOG

New Orleans: The Corps Gets It Wrong Again, and Charting the Bumps in the Road Home

06/16/2008 06:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Two new reports, two more confirmations that New Orleanians are not yet out of the federal woods. From the Corps of Engineers came a draft Environmental Impact Report which repeated the Corps' since-discredited (even by the Corps) explanation for the flooding of New Orleans:

A single sentence in the 158-page draft of Individual Environmental Report No. 2 says: "Heavy rains and overtopping of the Lake Pontchartrain levees resulted in flooding in the northernmost sections of the parish, and sections of 'Old Metairie' remained flooded for weeks."

No mention is made of the catastrophic breaches of two New Orleans outfall canals, which independent forensic investigators largely blame for flooding not only the east bank of New Orleans but Old Metairie and Old Jefferson.

Those forensic investigators singled out design and construction flaws in the Corps-designed and constructed levee and floodwall system for the flooding. Odd the Corps wouldn't remember that, since its own 2006 report belatedly and partially confirmed those findings. Corps officials must have mislaid their 6,000-page report and just gone back to their October, 2005, press releases.

Then, the Rand Corporation has reported on the delay-plagued "Road Home" program, which was designed to compensate homeowners for the damage caused by the federal flood. In case you, or the homeowners, were wondering about those delays, the answer is surprisingly simple:

"The grant-making process was slow, in large part, because it was not designed to be fast," said Rick Eden, lead author of the study and a senior research analyst at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "The process could handle a large number of applications, but it was complex, with many potential sources of long delays. It was not designed to ensure that each application would be handled in a timely manner."

Thank goodness those homeowners hadn't survived a major disaster or anything.