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Day 812: Simple Math, Unsound Assumptions & General Disappointment

Army Corps of Engineers To New Orleans: OH WHOOPS WE WERE JUST KIDDING LOL

Turns out, the corps was right when it announced in June that new gates and levee repairs would reduce flooding in those areas by up to 5 1/2 feet if the city is hit by a 100-year hurricane.   But on Friday, the agency spooked residents by announcing it put a minus sign in a calculation that called for a plus sign, and that the maps underestimated flooding by 4 feet in Old Metairie and 5 feet in Lakeview.

… After two days of checking and rechecking, Link said Sunday that the numbers in a table in the task force’s long-awaited risk study were wrong, but the numbers used to make the maps were right.  “I cannot explain yet why those tables have incorrect numbers in them,” he said. “But the most important thing here is that we are not misinforming the people of New Orleans.”

Oh yeah, then what the hell was this?  The left hand of bureaucracy still hasn’t met its right, and WE ARE SCREWED.  It’s still just a big, fat joke to you guys, isn’t it?

AP: Mistakes Made in New Orleans Flood Maps
nola.com: Flooding estimates are off by 5 feet

The Lakeview data got fouled up when somebody put a minus sign in a calculation that called for a plus sign, Ed Link, leader of the corps-sponsored Interagency Performance Evaluation Task [IPET] Force, said Friday. The Old Metairie errors stemmed from faulty assumptions about the way water would move into and out of the neighborhood from surrounding areas, Link said.

… Link blamed the rush to get as much information out to the public as quickly as possible for the release of the inaccurate draft maps in June, as well as the failure to correct them until this week. At the time, senior corps officials and Powell’s office scheduled the news conference for the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, even though the risk report on which the maps were based had not been completed.

“We said, ‘Oh, my God! There’s that stupid negative sign,'” an exasperated Link said. “We’ve got too many thousands of numbers.”

Too many thousands of numbers. Indeed. That’s what “somebody” was paid to handle. A critical arithmetic sign error and faulty flow assumptions, i.e. cutting corners and sloppy work, just to meet a fake anniversary deadline. So, what effect does Gross Public Dumb have on the people of New Orleans, those who’ve worked hard for 812 days to reclaim their homes, once again believed in the Army Corps of Engineers and continue to be let down?

… the maps were not inconsequential because they were touted as roadmaps insurers, residents and businesses should pore over in making decisions about where and how to rebuild in the hurricane-hit region.

… “I have confidence in what they’re doing all along the levee, with the pumps. That’s one of the reasons we’re back here,” [Lakeview resident, Tami Do] said. “But these kinds of things put doubt back in your mind. If they got this wrong, what else have they gotten wrong?

Her husband, Tommy Do, wondered if the mistake would mean an increase in insurance rates, or perhaps a change in building requirements. To get flood insurance people must build their homes out of the flood plain, and he wondered if those calculations might have to be re-calibrated because of the new data. “Now all these people who have built these $300,000, $400,000 homes should be higher?” Tommy Do said. “That’s not good. We’re going to have to sue the Corps again!”

Now I leave my computer to choose between Cynthia Willard-Awful and Jackie Awful as the next City Councilmember At Large.

What have we attained in the fight of the last two years when everyone from the Army Corps of Engineers to local politicians still treat the recovery like some big joke? Disappointment doesn’t begin to cover my feelings at this time. Nothing has changed.

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