Today's USA Today--you know, the newspaper that sells more than any other, as long as you count all the copies hung for free on your hotel room doorknob?--gives prominent play to a report by the US Army Corps of Engineers on the vulnerable state of levees nationwide--or, as the paper would say, across the USA. But Peter Eisler can't blame the Corps for this howler just three paragraphs in, early enough so an editor might still have been reading it:
Thousands of residents who lost property (after Katrina) did not have flood insurance because those levees were considered adequate; later reviews found many were not well maintained.
This fits in well with the Corps' report on other levees, which blames their state "mainly on poor maintenance", but it's a patent untruth when it comes to the levees that failed in New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. Maybe Eisler should have checked the report by the UC Berkeley-led team, or at least the university's press release on the report. The release says the independent engineers who wrote the report
concludi(ed) that the levees failed because of design and construction errors resulting from insufficient money and lack of appropriate oversight by federal, state and local agencies, in particular the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
How can the national media continue to get a basic, easily ascertainable fact of this major story so wrong so long after the event? Because they try harder.
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