Corps Can Be Sued For MR-GO, Judge Rules

May 3, 2008 by


In the midst of the Jazz Fest Daily Deluge the following article snuck through between the raindrops:

A federal court judge cleared the way Friday for the Army Corps of Engineers to face trial on claims that defects in its Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet destroyed wetlands and turned the navigation channel into a funnel for storm surge..

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval’s 40-page ruling “paves the way for the first and only trial that will likely be held on how the Army Corps of Engineers drowned New Orleans” during Hurricane Katrina, said California attorney Pierce O’Donnell, who leads the legal team that filed the case two years ago on behalf of a group of plaintiffs that includes WDSU-TV anchorman Norman Robinson, who lived in eastern New Orleans.

The suit alleges the controversial shipping channel flooded thousands of homes in eastern New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

After the way previous suits against the Corps have gone this is a lovely breath of fresh air. In order to engender respect from the community there needs to be responsibility, accountability and some from of pennance besides. Accountability has been evaded because of decades outdated immunities still on the books. Need I remind the world yet again that the winds that hit New Orleans were Cat 2, we were on the weaker backside of the storm. The levees were certified for Cat 3.

Now the Corps is using newspapers to seal the gaps in the levees? Drag them through the court system and enforce accountability.

Without proper flood protection the world will lose a lot, not just the residents of New Orleans. Newsweek said it very well recently:

This subtropical port, which looks to the Mediterranean, Africa and the Caribbean for inspiration, has always marched to the beat of a multitude of different and very funky drummers. Which city has more beguiling street names – Abundance, Beaujolais, Cupid, Desire? Other places have the Rotary and the Elks. New Orleans has Social and Pleasure clubs and the Mardi Gras Indians – African-Americans masquerading as Native Americans in a tradition dating from when Indians and slaves were natural allies. A Mardi Gras Indian designs and sews a new costume every year: one chief put the cost, in time and materials, at $100,000 each. There are secret rituals, songs and chants; even parade routes are classified. Masking is crucial – disguise, misdirection, all in the service of nutty, impractical, unclassifiable mystery – and it’s one key to understanding the city and its culture. New Orleans elevates the chores of daily life to a high level of culture. Porch railings are wrought into sculpture. In the kitchen, the humblest food becomes piquant. Even the funeral procession is an art form.

In the wake of Katrina, New Orleans is doing what it does best: making something extraordinary out of next to nothing. There’s no Marshall Plan here – just small miracles in individual neighborhoods. “The culture of New Orleans emanates from the bottom up, not from the top down,” says Ellis Marsalis, pianist, composer and patriarch of the musical clan. The resurrection of the neighborhoods is doubly important because thousands of residents are still trying to come back, and because the city’s culture – particularly its music – is anchored in the neighborhoods. Unless they are revived, “the music won’t have a home anymore,” says saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr., who is also the Big Chief of the Congo Nation, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe. “New Orleans needs the neighborhoods, because it’s the only city in America that retains its traditional styles.”

In the increasingly mobile and digital age the world needs places like New Orleans. This is the last true American bohemia in so many ways, a place with a rich and vibrant (and yes, in many case unfortunate) history.

This is one of those rare moments of sanity over the past three years, I hope it goes the distance!

Now back to my foul weather Jazz Fest Blogging

Loki, Founder and Cat Herder, HumidCity