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Context of '(June 2004): Budget Cuts Force Halt to Work on New Orleans’ Levees for First Time in 37 Years'

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The US Army Corps of Engineers works on the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) spending $430 million to shore up the levee system in the greater New Orleans area and build pumping stations. Local governments contribute $50 million, or about 12 percent. (Bunch 8/31/2005)

The Bush administration proposes to reduce the US Army Corps of Engineers’ fiscal year 2003 budget by 10 percent, from $4.6 to $4.175 billion. (The Corps requested more than $6 billion.) (Walker 3/7/2002)

The Bush administration’s proposed fiscal year 2004 budget includes $297 million for civil works projects in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ New Orleans district. (Congress will later allocate an additional $40 million.) (Roberts 2/16/2004) Only $3 million of this amount is slated for New Orleans’ East Bank Hurricane Levee project. According to Al Naomi, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ project manager, $11 million is needed. (Congress ultimately approves $5.5 million.) (Grissett 6/8/2004) As a result of the project’s reduced budget, work on the levee system wil halt for the first time in 37 years in June 2004 (see (June 2004)).

For the first time in 37 years, the US Army Corps of Engineers must halt its work on the New Orleans’ east bank hurricane levee system, due to lack of funds. Several sections of the levee system have sunk 2 to 4 feet and need to be raised. (Grissett 6/8/2004; Borenstein 9/1/2005)

A US Army Corps of Engineers memo warns that funding levels for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 will not be enough to finance new construction on the levees protecting New Orleans. (Sullivan 9/1/2005)

The New Orleans district of the US Army Corps of Engineers formally notifies Washington that if a major hurricane scores a direct hit on the city, two of New Orleans’ biggest pumping stations could be disabled. These pumping stations are needed—even under normal conditions—to keep the city dry. In the event of an overtopped or breached levee and heavy rains, the city would be submerged. (Serrano and Gaouette 9/4/2005)


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