Friday, June 02, 2006

Army takes blame for Katrina flood

Army 'to blame' for Katrina flood

The US Army Corps of Engineers says it was responsible for the failure of New Orleans flood defences during Hurricane Katrina.

Levees and floodwalls failed because of engineering and design problems, the Corps said in a report.

More than 1,300 people died when Hurricane Katrina swept across five states last August and more than three-quarters of the city was flooded.

The report came as Mayor Ray Nagin was sworn in for his second term.

Mr Nagin, 49, was narrowly re-elected in May, winning 52% of the vote. He was sworn in at the Convention Centre, where thousands sheltered during the hurricane.

The ceremony came on the same day as the official start of the hurricane season.


The US Army Corps of Engineers oversees flood control projects nationwide and was responsible for the levees in New Orleans.

The 6,000-page report said that when Hurricane Katrina hit, New Orleans had a system of levees inconsistent in quality and design.

In May, an independent probe by the University of California, Berkeley, found that New Orleans flood protection was routinely under-funded.

Engineers also failed to account for poor soil quality which led to subsidence, causing some sections to be up to 60cm lower than others, the report said.

New research published in the Nature journal has revealed that parts of the city were sinking much faster than previously thought before Hurricane Katrina hit.

Parts of the report on the Corps, which was compiled by the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, have been released already, but this final version is the most in-depth.

It urged the Corps to adopt a new approach on assessing worthwhile projects "without reducing everything to one measure such as dollars".

Corps head Lt-Gen Carl Strock said the Corps had to admit to "a catastrophic failure", saying he was "enormously troubled by the suffering of so many".

The Corps says it is committed to fixing the flood defences, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Story from BBC NEWS: