A Top Story of the Decade Deserves Accurate Coverage

Today, New Years Day, many articles are covering the most memorable events of the decade. Naturally, they all include the metro New Orleans flood.

But the former chief of Gannett's Capitol Bureau stands out and gets a "seal of approval" from us for accurately describing the August 2005 flooding.

Today, John Hill, discussing the effect of hurricanes on Louisiana, is quoted as saying,

...absent the Noah-like flooding of New Orleans because of levee failures, Katrina would have taken second place to Rita.

Hill effectively resisted simply saying 'Katrina flooded New Orleans.' 

Indeed, that would be like saying traffic broke the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. Both the traffic and Katrina exposed structural flaws. Both revealed blatant civil engineering mistakes.

John McQuaid co-author of Path of Destruction with Mark Schleifstein has observed this is more than a matter of semantics.

Says McQuaid, using Katrina as 'shorthand' and its association with a natural disaster is confusing because it implies "what the heck are those people doing living down there?"

The flooding of metro New Orleans was a civil engineering failure, the worst in the world since Chernobyl according to Dr. Ray Seed, levee expert and geotechnical specialist at the University of California Berkeley.

And responsibility for the failures belongs overwhelmingly and primarily to the federal Army Corps of Engineers.