Another Katrina Myth Science

NEW ORLEANS -- Today in this city, the Presidential Commission looking into the Deepwater Horizon disaster is holding its first meeting. Quick question: how quickly after the water receded in the 2005 New Orleans flood did that Presidential commission hold its first meeting? Answer: never, there was no such commission.

So the truth about the disastrous flooding of this city has dribbled out slowly, piecemeal, over the intervening years, ignored by all but a few outside Orleans Parish.

First, there were the early reports from the two independent forensic engineering teams looking into the cause of the flooding (ILIT and Team Louisiana), investigations which would prove that the flooding was a man-made, not natural, disaster. Then, we learned that the early, frantic rumors -- spread by, among others, the former Mayor and police chief on Oprah's show -- of horrors in the Superdome and Convention Center were wildly overstated if not completely fictitious.

Today comes the latest busting of a long-prevalent Katrina-era myth, courtesy of a report in the Times-Picayune. It debunks the myth of the floodwaters as being a "toxic gumbo". Specifically, the report -- by researchers from Colorado State and Tulane -- found that the lead level in New Orleans soil, historically high due to the use of lead paint and leaded gasoline, plummeted after the flood, as did the lead levels in children's blood.

As we approach the five-year anniversary of the flooding next month, it becomes increasingly clear that almost every piece of information spread about the event by the national media has turned out to be, to use a term of journalistic art, wrong.