Thursday, April 23, 2009
Katrina trial: New Orleans' truth commission
These two items made their way into the news the same day (April 22, 2009).
The MRGO is finally closed to navigation traffic after years of dedicated people fighting for this.
Six people are going to court to testify about their experiences during and after the storm. These people lost everything due to the MRGO.
From the csmonitor dot com:
This "first real Katrina trial" could pave the way for a class-action lawsuit against the Corps, as well as set the tone for future US coastal policy.
It's the only one of a series of lawsuits that Judge Stanwood Duval, Jr., has allowed to go to trial. US tort laws protect the Corps from damages directly related to flood control and levees. But the topic at the center of the case is a US navigation channel, not a flood-control project, so Judge Duval permitted the case.
"Someone has to take responsibility, if only to make sure processes and policy are improved and grievances are addressed," says Dr. Silas Lee, a sociologist at Xavier University in New Orleans, who adds that uncertainty over the city's flood control has stymied the return of a third of the city's residents. "People want closure to this."
To all those out there who will criticize and dislike Katrina survivors, ask yourself if you could experience this:
In the Lower Ninth Ward, Jimmy Braxton's sister climbed with her two small kids into the attic. Holding the kids, she craned for air as the water rose. Another relative swam to the house and busted through the roof. She had to let go of one of the kids to reach through the hole. Only one child survived.
The MRGO was created in 1960s,when the motto was "build anything". The waterway provided an alternate and shorter route for cargo ships from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico.
Coastal geologists have testified that the MRGO has also increased salinity in the storm-slowing swamps, marshes, and tupelo stands that protected New Orleans' east side, killing much of the vegetation.
From Save Our Lake dot org, is a publication that helped close the cover on MRGO's coffin.
The MRGO created "great pipe" to move storm surges straight into the city. In the late 90's - after 30 years of warnings - the Corps began moving to close MRGO, but "dragged its heels," according to expert witnessDr. Sherwood Gagliano, CEO of the Baton Rouge-based Coastal Environments, Inc.. A veteran advocate for the Louisiana coast and Louisiana's oldest coastal engineer, Gagliano states the dangers posed by MRGO amounted to "Coastal Geology 101." "One of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the US" was both predictable and preventable.
Gagliano has testified that a series of studies had warned of MRGO's impacts as far back as 1958, the year construction began. The threats included salination overload of sensitive freshwater swamps and erosion that would widen the channel over time. A 1984 Corps report acknowledged that large portions of St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes could be "exposed to a direct hurricane attack" because of a looming breach in the channel connecting it to Lake Borgne to the east.
I'm hoping that this one time victory is for the victims.