Saturday, April 01, 2006

More bad news about those levees in New Orleans...

Writing in today's Times-Picayune reporter Bob Marshall has this to say:

A sinking landscape, rising sea levels and an increase in the frequency of tropical storms are the reason for a sudden jump — from $3.5 billion to $9.5 billion — in the estimated price tag for protecting southeast Louisiana from flooding in a major hurricane, scientists and engineers said this week.

The case that the region is growing more vulnerable to storms had been building with a series of scientific reports in recent years that drew little notice until Hurricane Katrina slammed the coast last August, flooding much of the city when levees were topped or breached.

The Bush administration has pledged to rebuild the system bigger and stronger, and had asked Congress to spend about $3.5 billion to repair and rebuild levees around New Orleans. But this week, Gulf Coast Rebuilding Coordinator Donald Powell informed state officials that the Army Corps of Engineers had determined it could take another $6 billion to protect the region, raising questions about where the money would come from and whether some coastal communities might be left unprotected.

The new estimate stunned state officials, but scientists say they saw it coming.