Monday, November 30, 2009

Plaques of Bay St. Louis Bridge

A few weeks ago we walked the Bay St. Louis Bridge to photograph the bronze plaques. Here's a slideshow.

Six Month Reprieve

A collective sigh is going out all along the Gulf Coast and eastern seaboard.

Today is the end of the 2009 Hurricane Season!

A Must See Photo Exhibit

Visual Story of the Lower Mississippi River Delta

The Port of New Orleans will host an exhibit “The End of the Great River: Photographs of the Lower Mississippi River Delta” December 1st through 18th featuring the work of New Orleans-based photographer Matthew White.

The showing of White's work will consist of fine art landscape images of the Mississippi River Delta, from Port Sulphur in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana south to the end of the three passes that drain the river into the Gulf of Mexico: Pass a Loutre; South Pass and Southwest Pass.

This delta-full of history, culture, and industry-is sparsely populated and rarely seen in detail by outsiders, but is a landscape of vast beauty.

Lower Plaquemines Parish was decimated by Hurricane Katrina, and has quite a long history of fighting coastal erosion with other notable storms of the past. The goal of this photo collection is to raise awareness for the unique beauty of this fragile locale through an artist’s eye and to encourage the creation and preservation of images of the Mississippi River Delta and its disappearing habitat for future generations.

Photography for the project began in the spring of 2000, shot on both black and white film and in color digital and has continued to the present day. In this collection, White has shot nearly every named location in lower Plaquemines Parish and has compiled a sizable collection of documentary-style often contemplative photographs of the most remote areas of the parish.

One such location is Pilottown, where the Crescent River Port Pilots’ Association has maintained an outpost for piloting ships for the last 100 years. After it was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, White returned in April 2008 to photograph this one-of-a-kind town, the last manned outpost on the Mississippi River before you reach the Gulf of Mexico. He was able to document a few pilot houses that were being rebuilt, while the remainder of former homes along the river completely vanished.

To see previews of this exhibit, go to this link.

About Matthew White

Matthew White Grand Isle Juried Art Exhibit, The New Orleans Photo Alliance Elemental/Environmental Space Exhibit, and as part of a permanent museum exhibit for Parks Canada in New Brunswick. White is represented by Big Vision Media (

Sponsored in part by Plaquemines Parish Economic Development, the exhibit is being held in conjunction with PhotoNOLA, an annual showcase of photography in New Orleans. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the lobby of the administrative building at the Port of New Orleans. A reception will be held on December 10, 2009 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm and the public is invited to attend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MRGO lawsuit victory

Could not find on the LOCAL news website, Imagine that.

found at Bloomberg dot com

Hurricane Katrina Victims Win $719,698 From U.S. in First Trial
A A A By Margaret Cronin Fisk and Leslie T. Snadowsky

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Katrina victims were awarded $719,698 in damages by a judge in a lawsuit claiming a canal dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico destroyed a natural barrier to a storm surge.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr., who heard the trial in New Orleans without a jury, yesterday found in favor of four residents and one business, while rejecting the claims of the owners of another property. The decision will support the claims of about 100,000 residents and business owners in the area, plaintiffs’ lawyers said.

Residents sued the U.S. and the Army engineers, claiming negligence in designing, constructing and maintaining the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the canal known as Mr. Go.

Duval said the Army engineers are liable for the “negligent operation and maintenance” of the canal and not for faulty design or construction. Duval said in April at the beginning of the trial, the first over the Mr. Go lawsuits, that his finding would be used as a guide for other claims.

“Once the corps exercised its discretion to create a navigational channel, it was obligated to make sure that channel did not destroy the environment surrounding it thereby creating a hazard to life and property,” Duval said yesterday in his 156-page opinion. “When the corps designed the MRGO, it recognized that foreshore protection was going to be needed, yet the corps did nothing to monitor the problem in a meaningful way.”

Flooding after the 2005 hurricane drowned much of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward and nearby St. Bernard Parish.

‘Engineering Blunders’

“By 1988 it knew that indeed all of the engineering blunders that it had made now put the Parish of St. Bernard at risk,” Duval wrote.

The residents said the canal made New Orleans and the surrounding area more vulnerable to hurricane-induced flooding. They claimed the corps was warned repeatedly that the Mr. Go operation had removed natural buffers to floods, killing trees and infusing the marshland with saltwater.

The lawsuit, filed in 2005, was the first to go to trial on claims against the corps. The plaintiffs were seeking unspecified damages at the trial.

“The people of this community have finally been vindicated and now they’re going to be compensated,” Joe Bruno, a plaintiffs’ attorney, said yesterday in a phone interview.

‘Monumental Negligence’

“This is a landmark victory,” said attorney Pierce O’Donnell, who also represented the New Orleans residents. “It’s the first time ever the Army Corps of Engineers has been held responsible for its monumental negligence.”

The finding of negligence in the maintenance and operation of the canal supports the claims of about 100,000 residents and business owners in the Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish, Bruno said.

Duval’s finding that the corps isn’t liable for negligent design of the canal will affect claims from about 80,000 property owners in east New Orleans, Bruno said.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers will be seeking a global settlement with the U.S. to cover those residents too, Bruno said.

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment yesterday.

The U.S. said in court filings that it isn’t responsible for the flood damage caused by Katrina.

“This catastrophe would have occurred regardless of the Mr. GO and regardless of the way the channel was maintained prior to the flood,” the U.S. said in an April pretrial brief.

The corps said the levees were inadequate to withstand the force of Hurricane Katrina.

Witnesses for the plaintiffs said the Army knew or should have known that the canal would increase risk of flooding.

Corps Warned

“They knew in the mid 1970s, and they certainly knew it by 1981,” Sherwood M. Gagliano, a geologist and former consultant to the corps, testified. He said he submitted multiple reports to the corps warning about potential adverse effects.

The government didn’t undertake any of the remedial efforts he recommended, he testified. This led to “one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the United States,” he said.

The U.S. wasn’t negligent and didn’t block remediation of problems, Gregory Breerwood, formerly the highest-ranking civilian with the New Orleans division of the corps at the time of Katrina, testified.

If anyone “suspected or determined that a project would have been detrimental to the public, we would have taken steps to either go to the proper authorities or to the proper offices to assure that that particular deficiency was dealt with and remedied,” he said.

Contemplated Suicide

One of the plaintiffs, Norman Robinson, a news anchor at the NBC affiliate in New Orleans, told the court he contemplated suicide when his home was destroyed.

Robinson said he “felt like an idiot” after hearing the testimony of multiple plaintiffs’ experts who said the corps knew about the probabilities of flooding because of the Mr. Go project.

“I should have known what they knew,” he said. “I never would have placed my family in jeopardy.”

Robinson and his wife weren’t awarded any damages in Duval’s ruling.

“The corps is only exposed to liability for negligent operation and maintenance of the MRGO and is not liable for any negligence relating to the original design and construction of the channel,” Duval said.

The decision eliminated the Robinsons’ claim because it relied on allegations of design flaws, he said. He found that the Army didn’t have a duty to construct a surge-protection barrier.

Funnel Effect

Duval said the corps was aware the MRGO could produce a funnel effect, which ultimately increased the height of Katrina’s storm surge and the magnitude of destruction. The canal acted as a funnel bringing water into the city and strengthening its force, Duval said.

The corps considered a remedial action to prevent this funnel effect in 1967, he said. “The plan was eventually rejected as not economically justified, detrimental to the economic interests of the local participants, and was so broad that it would require Congressional review,” he wrote.

The case is Robinson v. U.S., 06-cv-02268, and the cases are combined in In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, 05-cv-04182, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Cronin Fisk in Southfield, Michigan, at; Leslie T. Snadowsky in New Orleanst .

Last Updated: November 19, 2009 00:01 EST

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day

Heartfelt thanks to all those who are serving and all those who've served.

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.
~Elmer Davis

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Clicks for Cans

I borrowed this post from Mike Styborski's over at Humid City

Campbell’s is donating soup to NFL teams which they will distribute to local food banks. In our case this will be Second Harvest. 1,000 cans of soup will be donated to each team regardless of the voting outcome. The team receiving the most votes for the AFC and NFC get an additional 12,000 cans and the overall winner gets another 5,000 cans. This means if you lazy kids out there can click a button enough times for the Saints, you could help bring in 18,000 cans of soup to help feed people. And not watered down MRE soup, but so-chunky-you-could-eat-it-with-a-fork-but-use-a-spoon Chunky Soup!

The contest goes on through the end of the season when the four AFC and NFC teams with the most votes enter single elimination “playoffs” for three weeks to crown the overall winner. This means each of you reading this can add over seventy votes for the Saints from here on in! Just go to Chunky’s website and click the Vote Now button, then pick the Saints matchup and choose our home team. And hurry! As of this posting the Saints 5,042 votes are second to the Packers 8,971 this week. In the time it took me to type that and double check the numbers the Pack gained four votes and the Saints gained none, so get your fingers moving and help feed some people in New Orleans!

And don’t forget to blast this to everyone you know!

So go vote, y'all. It helps our local Second Harvesters Food Bank. Tis the season!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Bday, Saints

from WetBankGuy rt marienola On this day 1966, All Saints Day, NFL awarded franchise to New Orleans. calling team The Saints.

Happy 43rd Birthday Saints!