There were lots of recriminations about the speed of the response. News viewers saw the Mayor of New Orleans in the packed Superdome asking where reliefe workers were when they had been turned away, either on his orders or the Governor's orders. They feared that people would not leave the Superdome if they had food and water.
The left found some recent figures on money spent on levees and concluded that Bush cut flood-control funds to pay for Iraq.
They also insisted that the reason that the federal response was so slow was because everyone in the National Guard was in Iraq.
Or that no one wanted to mobilize troops to help poor blacks. This got a lot of attention.
Most recently, posters at the DailyKOS announced that Bush had the Army Corp of Engineers blow the levees. This was echoed by Louis Farrakhan:
Farrakhan also shared his thoughts on how the levee breached in the first place.
"I heard from a very reliable source who saw a 25 foot deep crater under the levee breach. It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry," Farrakhan said.
Conspiracy theorists point out that the poor black areas received the worst ofthe flooding while the rich white areas and the tourist spots received little damage. The French Quarter might even be open by this weekend.
So is there anything to the allegations? Of course not.
First, the areas hit hardest are the lowest ones. The older and richer parts of the city are built on higher ground.
Second, the 25 foot crater is a myth. Here's what the Army Corp of Engineers says:
Floodwalls were breached in the 17th Street Canal, at two places in the London Avenue Canal, and at two places in the Industrial Canal, Suhayda said. Naomi said last week that one of the Industrial Canal breaches likely was caused by a loose barge that broke through it.And finally, it appears that someone starts saying that the flooding was deliberate whenever the city floods. Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu remembers a 1957 hurricane:
Suhayda said that his inspection of the debris from the 17th Street Canal breach suggests the wall simply gave way. "It looks to have been laterally pushed, not scoured in back with dirt being removed in pieces," he said. "You can see levee material, some distance pushed inside the floodwall area, like a bulldozer pushed it."
Just like the "stolen election", this will go into urban myth, releated by Bush detractors and believed by too many.
But Betsy passed far enough away to the west so that the waters of Lake Borgne and Lake Ponchatrain, which normally caress the city limits, were not pushed up into the city by fierce winds, overpowering levees and flood walls. This was everyone’s nightmare scenario. Even so there was serious damage. My grandmother’s house in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward was flooded to about four feet. Dark rumors flew that city officials had colluded to dynamite the levee, thereby taking the pressure off the rest of the city while abandoning the “poor folks” to their fates. “I heard dat explosion,” one on Grandmother’s neighbors told me, with great intensity. The perennial state of bureaucratic corruption that characterizes New Orleans politics lent credibility to the rumor, although nothing city officials had accomplished to date would support the degree of proficiency necessary to accomplish such a complex task as picking the exact spot to blow the levee and the precise charge with which to accomplish the mission.