8/31/2005

Proof the funds were diverted specifically for the war; and that they would have averted the present disaster

Trevino&co: lickspittle sycophants defend Bush against the reality of the Katrina Disaster
by RedDan
Tue Aug 30th, 2005 at 21:50:58 CDT

In a recent spate of diaries on RedState, Bush is defended against any and all charges of failed leadership, incompetence and stupidity with respect to the preparations, planning, and disaster relief.

The absence of large portions of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama National Guards is dismissed as unimportant, because after all, 3,500 guards are available in LA, 1600 in MS, and 750 in AL...those numbers are perfectly sufficient! Or maybe not. Oh, and what about their equipment, trucks, helicopters, halftracks, and etc?

But even more, Trevino states "Show me, please, that the funds were diverted specifically for the war; and that they would have averted the present disaster."

Read exactly that information after the break.

* RedDan's diary :: ::
*

So, Trevino, Cole, Erick, and the rest of you shameless, heartless, blind idiots, here's the data:

At Attytood we see a comprehensive rundown of exactly how funds, projects, manpower, and equipment slated for New Orleans reconstruction and shoring up of various levees, causeways, canals, bridges, and etc were diverted to the Iraq war.

It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.

Get it? The levees were not finished. The levees failed, even though the hurricane veered and weakened. Which levees failed?

The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes.

The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about $20 million is needed.

"The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink," he said. "I've got at least six levee construction contracts that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling). Right now I owe my contractors about $5 million. And we're going to have to pay them interest."

Some of those areas, specifically St. Bernard, are now completely under water because those levee projects were not completed.

The district has identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects are included in a Corps line item called Lake Pontchartrain, where funding is scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million this year to $2.9 million in 2006. Naomi said it's enough to pay salaries but little else.

"We'll do some design work. We'll design the contracts and get them ready to go if we get the money. But we don't have the money to put the work in the field, and that's the problem," Naomi said.

No money to put the work in the field, to get the job done.

That second study would take about four years to complete and would cost about $4 million, said Army Corps of Engineers project manager Al Naomi. About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount.

But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.

No money to undertake studies and modeling and measurement efforts to understand current and future problems...because of the Iraq war.

The largest cuts in hurricane preparedness and disaster prevention construction funding....occurred between 2001 and 2005:

In general, funding for construction has been on a downward trend for the past several years, said Marcia Demma, chief of the New Orleans Corps' programs management branch.

In 2001, the New Orleans district spent $147 million on construction projects. When fiscal year 2005 wraps up Sept. 30, the Corps expects to have spent $82 million, a 44.2 percent reduction from 2001 expenditures.

Massive cuts in construction led to:

Unfunded projects include widening drainage canals, flood- proofing bridges and building pumping stations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The Corps also wants to build levees in unprotected areas on the West Bank.

They want to, but they cannot...because they have no money...

America Blog is on the beat...

Experts knew this was coming, and all the preparations ground to a halt because Bush stole New Orleans' disaster preparation money so he could use it for his Iraq debacle

What is being referenced?

This article from Editor and Publisher that recounts the debacle this way:

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Lack of preparedness in the face of known, predictable, and long-standing threats due directly to shortsighted, stupid, bloody political games with taxes, with the Iraq war, and with hostility to government programs that were being eyed for profit-taking by private contractors and corporations that wanted that cash...

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.

Less than 20% of what was needed.

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

read it again.

One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday.

The lack of money for these projects is a DIRECT cause of the faiure of the levee that was breached - that levee was slated for work and identified as a threat LONG AGO...but there was no money to fix it...and it broke.

The cost of Iraq:

* Lost lives by the tens or hundreds of thousands in Iraq
* Lost respect in the world, and massive hatred directed at the US from many, many quarters
* The destruction of the infrastructure of an entire nation, and the inflaming of massive numbers of the population of that nation and its neighbors agains the US
* The rise and growth of a theocratic, medieval fundamentalist government in that nation, allied with Iran
* Hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, stolen, disappeared, defrauded, unaccounted for...
* Underfunding and defunding of critical infrastructure, preventive measures, and protective construction in danger spots at home
* Lack of trained and equipped emergency relief troops to deal with preparation, mitigation, rescue, and recovery operations in the event of a disaster.

So, Trevino, Cole, Erick, and other lickspittle, lapdog, sycophantic propagandists...them's the facts.

A city is destroyed, and in large part this disaster was eminently preventable...but the money, planning, coordination, and people necessary to accomplish that prevention and mitigation were diverted from already identified urgent needs and projects and sunk into the bloody sands of the Iraqi desert and siphoned into the bulging pockets of your campaign contributors and rich beneficiaries of your stupid tax cuts.

Happy now?

Update [2005-8-31 4:58:29 by RedDan]: Updated to include several informative links from commenters: fugue, Limelite, and pb...

Limelite reports the the Coast Guard's funding is currently being underfunded and that Critical rescue equipment needs are not being met

Feds' Disaster Planning Shifts Away From Preparedness

For years before Hurricane Katrina roared ashore Monday morning, devastating the Gulf Coast, officials from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been warning about their vulnerability to the storms that swirl menacingly in the Gulf of Mexico every hurricane season. Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation. On Tuesday, looters could be seen carrying away whole shelves of merchandise from stores in New Orleans with no police in sight. A shortage of boats left people stranded on their roofs a day after the storm passed. State, local and federal rescue workers, all supplied with different radio equipment, were having trouble communicating with one another. Meanwhile, local officials said that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection - including fortifying homes, building up levees and repairing barrier islands - the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be.

So the feds did not heed warnings, critical equipment and personnel were not available, and the damage was worse than it needed to be...

Louisiana should have been high on the list for FEMA's biggest disaster mitigation grant program -- so why did the state get nothing?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shook up its way of distributing disaster preparedness money when it introduced its Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program in 2002. Given the program's criteria, Louisiana appeared to have been a shoo-in for federal dollars for 2003, the first year the program began awarding money. Instead, Louisiana got nothing. Tom Rodrigue, flood zone manager for the Jefferson Parish Office of Emergency Management, says that office had submitted three grant applications and expected to receive some money. "One of the number one priorities for that PDM grant program is repetitive loss structures; Jefferson Parish, unfortunately, has more repetitive loss structures than any parish [or county] in the country," he says. "We felt sure we would get some funding out of that grant program, and we didn't."

What? Are you telling me that the most at-risk section of the most at-risk city got NO funding for planning and mitigation efforts from a newly-reorganized (and gutted, and subsumed into the politicized, Bush-run, cabinet-level DHS) FEMA?

What ever happened to "A stitch in time saves nine"??

Destroying FEMA

In the days to come, as the nation and the people along the Gulf Coast work to cope with the disastrous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we will be reminded anew, how important it is to have a federal agency capable of dealing with natural catastrophes of this sort. This is an immense human tragedy, one that will work hardship on millions of people. It is beyond the capabilities of state and local government to deal with. It requires a national response. Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why, at this moment, the country's premier agency for dealing with such events -- FEMA -- is being, in effect, systematically downgraded and all but dismantled by the Department of Homeland Security. Apparently homeland security now consists almost entirely of protection against terrorist acts. How else to explain why the Federal Emergency Management Agency will no longer be responsible for disaster preparedness? Given our country's long record of natural disasters, how much sense does this make?

So the DHS bureaucracy is responsible for large-scale dismantling of one of the most effective and useful disaster prevention, management and mitigation agencies in our nation's history?

And DHS is cabinet level, right?

And Bush runs the cabinet, right?

LA National Guard Wants Equipment to Come Back From Iraq

JACKSON BARRACKS -- When members of the Louisiana National Guard left for Iraq in October, they took a lot equipment with them. Dozens of high water vehicles, humvees, refuelers and generators are now abroad, and in the event of a major natural disaster that, could be a problem. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," said Lt. Colonel Pete Schneider with the LA National Guard.

It's not just that large portions of the NG are in Iraq, it's not just that only 5000 troops are available to cover and help in a three state region...it's that all their heavy equipment, generators, pumps, trucks, boats, helicopters and etc...are also in Iraq.

Note the dateline on that article, by the way - August 1st....

Got that? The people in charge of the National Guard in the region were worried and wanting to prepare for Hurricane season...but, sorry, too late.

pb comments and links to LSU's Hurricane Center, highlighting links that indicate lack of funding for research, modeling and planning has been and continues to be a long-term problem...

In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, which was created after the May 1995 flood to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president. The project manager said there would be no contracts awarded with this $10.4 million, Demma said. The construction portion of the Corps' budget would suffer if Congress doesn't add money. In 2005, the district received $94.3 million in federal dollars dedicated to construction. In 2006, the proposal is for $56 million. It would be critical to this city if we had a $50 million construction budget compared with the past years, Demma said. It would be horrible for the city, it would be horrible for contractors and for flood protection if this were the final number compared to recent years and what the city needs. Construction generally has been on the decline for several years and focus has been on other projects in the Corps. The district has identified $35 million in projects to build and improve levees, floodwalls and pumping stations in St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes. Those projects are included in a Corps line item called Lake Pontchartrain, where funding is scheduled to be cut from $5.7 million this year to $2.9 million in 2006. Naomi said it's enough to pay salaries but little else.

More cuts this year, piled on previous cuts over the last 3 years...shortages of manpower and materiel and machines...equals preventable disaster.

Daily Kos: Trevino&co: lickspittle sycophants defend Bush against the reality of the Katrina Disaster

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