WASHINGTON - January 5 - The New Orleans based group Levees.Org has launched a petition drive calling on the new 2007 Congress for a 9-11 style investigation into the failure of the levees in metro New Orleans in 2005 that resulted in the deaths of over one thousand Louisianans.
The commission is being referred to as the 8-29 commission referencing the day Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, said Levees.Org Director Sandy Rosenthal, and the petition logged over 500 signatures in the first few hours.
The concept has both Republican and Democratic support in Louisiana, according to Rosenthal. Senator Mary Landrieu D-LA has adopted the idea and is moving forward with it. “On November 30, which happened to be the closing day of the 2006 Hurricane Season, my colleagues and I conferred with Senator May Landrieu. She felt the 8-29 commission was a feasible initiative in the 110th Congress,” said Ms. Rosenthal, Founder and Executive Director of Levees.Org. Rep Bobby Jindal R-LA has also expressed vocal support.
The non-profit grassroots group, whose mission is to hold the Corps of Engineers accountable for their work, says the federal investigation established in late 2005 by Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, US Army Corps of Engineers was inadequate. Levees.Org contends since the Corps of Engineers is the sole agency responsible for the design, construction and performance of Greater New Orleans' flood protection, such an investigation presents a conflict of interest since the Corps was in charge of investigating itself.
Additionally, since the Corps investigation's findings were released on June 1, 2006, three independent levee investigation teams (the National Science Foundation/U.C. Berkeley, the National Academy of Engineering and Team Louisiana) have criticized the Corps' report as incomplete and technically inaccurate. Yet, despite unanimous criticism, the Corps' potentially flawed findings are being used to repair and fortify the south Louisiana flood protection system which protects the lives and property of 1.5 million people, said Rosenthal.
“Clearly, a fresh analysis is needed to assure that critical vulnerabilities in the levee system are addressed and all possible opportunities for improvement are considered,” says Rosenthal. “Taxpayers need a full return on the investment dollars that Congress authorizes and the citizens of south Louisiana need the best protection possible.”
Members of Congress who publicly support the goals of Levees.Org include Senator Russ Feingold D-WI and Senator David Vitter R-LA. Members of the US House include Richard Baker R-LA and Charlie Melancon D-LA.
The group has posted an online petition on their website www.levees.org. To accommodate those without internet, there are hardcopy petitions available at these locations throughout the metro New Orleans region. Citizens can also call 504-269-2650.
Westbank: 205 Pelican Ave, N.O. 70114-2345 (Algiers Point near ferry) on porch
St. Bernard 1800 East St. Bernard Hwy, Chalmette, LA 70043
Northshore Sunshine Garden Health Food Store, 124 N. Jefferson St., Covington
Gentilly 2245 Lafreniere St New Orleans 70122-4509
Uptown: 3830 Napoleon Avenue, New Orleans 70115
Metairie: 702 Helois St, Metairie 70005
Old Metairie: Interiors and Extras, 324 Metairie Rd, inside shop (open 10-5)
Harahan Hickory Avenue Harahan, La. 70123
About Levees.Org: The non partisan non sectarian grassroots group was founded in November of 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to educate the nation and Congress on the facts surrounding the metro New Orleans flood and the need for Corps Reform. The group also has satellite locations in the states of Florida and California which have many Corps-built levees. With over 6,300 members nationwide, the group's website has hosted over 63,000 unique visitors since December of 2005.