We recently wrote about how National Guard troops needed for disaster relief in New Orleans have been diverted to the Iraq war. Now it turns out that Federal money earmarked to repair the levee system has been diverted to Iraq as well.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested $27 million to pay for hurricane protection projects around Lake Pontchartrain. The Bush administration offered them less than $4 million, and Congress eventually gave them $5.7 million. The corps requested $18 million specifically to repair and strengthen New Orleans levees. Instead, their annual budget was reduced 20% because the money was needed for the war in Iraq.

The corps had to delay seven projects that would have enlarged the levees. Most of the destruction in New Orleans caused by hurricane Katrina happened because breaches in these levees allowed water from Lake Pontchartrain to pour into the city until 80% of New Orleans was under water.

In 2002, Bush fired Army Corps chief Michael Parker after Parker tried to push through a number of flood control projects, including a proposal to spend $188 million to build a flood control pump in the Mississippi river. Parker, who is a Republican, says, “I’m not saying [New Olreans] wouldn’t still be flooded, but I do feel that if it had been totally funded, there would be less flooding than you have.”

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

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