08/02/2008 02:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Not Trust The Corps? They're "Scrambling"

This July was good to New Orleans. No major storms nearby, and a wealth of visitors packing the streets, clubs, restaurants. The Essence Music Festival, the big cocktail convention (seriously), then an international classical piano competition (ditto), and the SCLC's national convention--compared to last July, when the streets were empty, the resettled part of the city was thriving and virbrant.

August brings a different mood. In Friday's Times-Picayune, we learn that the Army Corps of Engineers is now scrambling--the paper's word--to reinforce a crucial floodwall abutting a neighborhood that suffered disastrous flooding three years ago. Apparently, the Corps--which "concluded" on its own that Congress hadn't authorized it to build a new, stronger, more deeply anchored floodwall before completing so-called 100-year flood protection in 2011--has realized the floodwall is far more vulnerable than it had thought.

More disturbing is the fact that the problem is the elevation figures the Corps used, right after Katrina, in calculating what was needed to strengthen the existing wall. They were "culled" from the original floodwall design plans. It's been well established by the independent forensic investigations into the Katrina disaster that the Corps had a bad habit of using old, outdated elevation figures in the original design of the failed structures. So why "cull" those after the disaster proved them so disastrously wrong?

Combined with the continued reports of water leaking and puddling in backyards on the supposedly protected side of the 17th St. Canal--reports the Corps is still scrambling (my word) to explain--New Orleans is once again forced to ask: is this the best America can do?