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September 4th, 2012
11:36 AM ET

New Orleans Mayor Landrieu: Floodgates worked to hold off Isaac, Congress needs to 'get off the dime' and invest in US infrastructure

President Obama Continues his road to Charlotte tour today with a campaign stop in Virginia. Yesterday, he visited the New Orleans area to see some of the damage that was done by hurricane Isaac.

Most of the city's residents have regained power since that category 1 storm hit last week. More than 2,000 people, though, are still in shelters, because of flooding across coastal Louisiana. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu met with the president Monday, and he explains updates Soledad on "Starting Point" on the latest in the cleanup efforts.

"First of all, 97% of the power is restored, and we expect to get the other 3% up really, really soon," Mayor Landrieu says. "In New Orleans proper, we're doing fine. I think the big story is, number one, President Obama's team has really been fantastic. The White House has been involved from day one. Secretary Napolitano has been on it, Craig Fugate. And the cooperation between the federal state and the local agencies have been really good this time. And the levees held, which is the big story, I think, nationally. The floodgates held as they were designed. And that's been a good part of the story."

Landrieu did say there was some unexpected flooding in Plaquemines Parish ant St. John the Baptist Parish, but he says "every one of these storms brings something that you didn't expect."

Landrieu also says funding infrastructure projects and response efforts is critical to recovering from these kinds of weather events.

"We should never leave anybody behind in a storm or any catastrophic event, no matter where it is in the country. And so, it's really important that emergency funding is there all of the time. And that you don't have to go back into Congress to get appropriations during the middle of storms or in the middle of catastrophic events. That's a bad idea. But the bigger point here is whether or not Congress is going to spend the money necessary to build the infrastructure that protects these areas since you don't have an emergency," Mayor Landrieu says.

"Our request to Congress is to get off the dime and to invest and make America strong again so that we can protect ourselves," he says.

Filed under: Infrastructure • Isaac
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Mark Newsom

    How about the Fed investing in moving communities to ABOVE SEA LEVEL locations? If you dump more money into a swamp, you should expect that the next hurricane will do the same thing. A dyke is a temporary fix when we are talking about below sea level communities. The permanent solution is to relocate them. That is exactly what the Fed did with Nulato, AK. They kept getting flodded by the Yukon River ice melt, so, they moved the village to higher ground about 3 or 4 thousand feet away from its original location. Wow, how much money did I just save the Fed and the tax payers?

    September 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • RL

      Here is a great, and well researched article you should read.

      Most of the areas that flooded are well above sea level, and flooded due to storm surge and wind driven water, which can reach heights of over 20 ft very easily and is a problem for any area along the coast of the US (Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific). The residents in the areas which typically flood due to surge in Southeast Louisiana and wind driven water accept this problem and build to those realities. Some storms are worse than others... Isaac sat in place for basically 36 hours causing a significant amount of water to build into areas. Katrina was a failure of epic proportions by the floodwall and levee system constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers and neglected by decades of inept local leadership and oversight. Fortunately, those days seem to be behind the New Orleans metro area, and big steps are being taken to rectify years of abuse and neglect to infrastructure as citizens have demanded better infrastructure and proper funding froim existing taxes and offshore royalties.

      Implying that it's irresponsible to provide preventative measures to mitigate problems caused by natural disasters is ridiculous. You build to code in earthquake prone areas, you build fire breaks in areas prone to wildfires and you build shelters in areas susceptible to tornadoes. Why would you not provide levees and flood control systems in areas that flood in the case of extreme circumstances?

      To suggest that moving a community from the coast to an area further inland would solve the problem is not only short-sighted but flat out wrong and crazy. In the New Orleans metro area alone you would be talking about relocating over 1.5 Million residents and thousands of businesses generating Billions of dollars in revenue for the US economy; not to mention a port which provides a vast majority of imports and exports for the country. To compare the New Orleans area to Nulato, AK, a VILLAGE of 336 (2000 census) is asinine at best, especially when you include communities along the rest of the gulf coast from Houston to say Tampa. A few million dollars invested in infrastructure before Katrina could have saved the Fed and taxpayers over $20 Billion post Katrina. Your permanent solution would cost Trillions.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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