Who Gets the Money?

Katrina

  Iraq vs. Hurricane Katrina
“… Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA* dropped to a trickle. The Army Corps of Engineers 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.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune Web site, reported: “No one can say they didn’t see it coming. … Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation.”

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.

*Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project


 

  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Braces for Record Cuts
New Orleans CityBusiness
Weeky publication serves the New Orleans business community.
New Orleans, June 6, 2005

In fiscal 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.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

I’ve been here over 30 years and I’ve never seen this level of reduction. …
There is an economic ripple effect. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.

Congress is setting the Corps budget

The House of Representatives wants to cut the New Orleans district budget 21 percent to $272.4 million in 2006, down from $343.5 million in 2005. The House figure is about $20 million lower than the president’s suggested $290.7 million budget.

It’s now up to the Senate. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans, is making no promises.

It’s going to be very tough, Landrieu said. The House was not able to add back this money … but hopefully we can rally in the Senate and get some of this money back.

Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority.

I think it’s extremely shortsighted, Landrieu said. When the Corps of Engineers’ budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation.

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 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. “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.”

Links

  The Times-Picayune New Oreans

Washing Away The T-P’s Five-Part Series published June 23-27, 2002.

T-P article explaining the hurricane risks and that the Army Corps was only planning for Category 3 storm.