Thursday, August 24, 2006

A year after Katrina, the pumps don't work, but the thieves do

In its own after-deadline time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers--designers of the biggest urban catastrophe in recent American history--built thirty-four new pumps for New Orleans' major canals. Now, it appears that most of them will have to be re-built (beyond any deadline set, you can bet) because they are vibrating. This new project will delay even longer the start of a major floodgate project that is designed to keep the city from flooding overwhelmingly, as it did after Katrina.

Now that the Corps has been found out for the incompetent, negligent and probably dishonest organization that it is, it is at least bothering to tell the public that something is wrong and that the pumps must be re-built. The Corps' silence many years ago resulted in the near-destruction of the entire city.

One is tempted, however, to guess that the pumps don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles. They took everything else. In March, a New Orleans police officer was arrested after he and a crime partner were caught stealing parts from a car (mysteriously, there "wasn't enough evidence" to charge the policeman). In St. Bernard Parish, thieves stole the copper wire that was stretched between telephone poles. One thief made $50,000 selling the copper to a salvage company. Just recently, someone stole $100,000 worth of heavy equipment from a site where a Katrina memorial is being built. And just a few days ago, two National Guardsmen were arrested for armed robbery in New Orleans. The two men were stopping motorists and taking money out of their wallets. The Guard was sent to New Orleans to assist with the crime problem, and obviously, these two guys took "assist" the wrong way.


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