June 21, 2008

SPEAKING OF DARWIN DAY...:

Call for Change Ignored, Levees Remain Patchy (MONICA DAVEY, 6/21/08, NY Times)

After the last devastating flood in the Midwest 15 years ago, a committee of experts commissioned by the Clinton administration issued a 272-page report that recommended a more uniform approach to managing rising waters along the Mississippi and its tributaries, including giving the principal responsibility for many of the levees to the Army Corps of Engineers.

But the committee chairman, Gerald E. Galloway Jr., a former brigadier general with the Corps of Engineers, said in an interview that few broad changes were made once the floodwaters of 1993 receded and were forgotten.

“We told them there were going to be more floods like this,” said Dr. Galloway, now an engineering professor at the University of Maryland. “Everybody likes to go out and shake hands on the levee now and offer sandbags, but that’s not helpful. This shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

While the committee’s recommendations certainly would not have prevented the Mississippi and its tributaries from rising to catastrophic levels, Dr. Galloway said they could have lessened the sense of helplessness and limited some of the damage.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 21, 2008 7:19 PM
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