NOLA residents still skeptical of levees

August 27, 2010 9:49:28 PM PDT
Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina was on its way to quickly becoming a Category 5 storm and was moving closer to New Orleans. At that point, the people of New Orleans felt the city's levees would protect them. They were wrong. Even five years later, not everyone trusts those rebuilt levees.

There are a lot of people who said they have a lot of concerns about the levees that dot New Orleans five years ago, and now, half a decade later, they're still worried, even with the fixes in place.

Arnold Eugene built his home twice.

"That's the one thing that's left from the storm, this base," Eugene said.

Just a week after finishing a complete remodel of his home, Katrina struck. The city flooded, as did his home. But Eugene doesn't blame the storm.

"It was the levees' fault. Katrina had nothing to do with my house," he said.

Eugene blames the Army Corp of Engineers for poor design. And despite new pumps and new levees, and billions in fixes, he doesn't trust them either.

"I've learned to be skeptical, and a little skepticism doesn't hurt," Eugene said.

We met Eugene at an event on Thursday night at the annual gathering of Levees.org, group that claims 25,000 supporters.

Sandy Rosenthal founded the group with the idea of educating people about what she says really happened after Katrina -- that it wasn't the hurricane that swamped the city.

"If the people of America don't understand that the flooding was a federal responsibility, they'll never understand why we should rebuild," Rosenthal said.

The Corp of Engineers says it is fixing the levees, making them better than they were before and that it has learned from Katrina.

But Eugene says as he stood at the 17th Street levee next to a new, Levees.org-funded plaque -- which commemorates the wall's failure -- he and maybe thousands more aren't convinced.

"I can tell you just looking at it that it's probably gonna fail again," he said.

Levees.org isn't trying to get Americans to believe its word for what happened; in fact, they want the federal government to launch an investigation into what caused the levees to fail on August 29, 2005. They say it's five years overdue.

Load Comments