Thursday, September 15, 2005

Let's Hold Off on 'Blame Game' Till Later ...

There will come a time, I hope, when an independent commission will sit down and sort out the natural mess that was Hurricane Katrina, and the bureaucratic mess that was our response to the storm and its devastation.

That being said, though ... do we have to sort out the mess and assess any blame NOW?

As time goes by, as the waters recede and order is restored along America's Gulf Coast, it's becoming apparent that many of the shots being taken - at one target or another, from from one direction or another - were based upon information that was, at best, limited.

I'd like to offer one example to illustrate that point ... but I have to warn you ... it's an example that relies upon a report from
National Public Radio, prepared the week following Katrina's pounding of New Orleans.

Do you remember the debate, the accusations over the levees that protect that city, the blame that one side or another attempted to lay upon someone else's doorstep? Plenty of conclusions were drawn in the very first days of the catastrophe ... and they were based upon incomplete information. You see, breached levees were only a part of the problem that led to 80% of the city being flooded ...
this report from NPR reveals that, "Engineers and scientists are getting a better idea of exactly how the New Orleans area flooded. In addition to several breaks in the city's floodwalls, engineers now say the Ninth Ward in the eastern part of the city was hit by a huge wave coming over a levee."

How massive was that wave? One estimate is part of the city found itself under eight feet of water in less than 30 minutes, and that the force of that water was enough to carry a 45-ton barge over the levee and deposit it a few-hundred-feet inside. Another analyst cited in the report states the wave was so big, it would have gone well over the levee, even if it had been raised a couple of feet, as had been proposed a few years back.

And it came with a speed and a fury that caught even the oldest, most storm-seasoned residents of the city by surprise.

That's just one example of new data reshaping our view of what happened ... I'm sure you've noted a few others of your own in the last couple of weeks. But it illustrates my original point ... there will come a time when an independent commission will sit down and sort out the mess ...

But not now.

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