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Context of 'July 1, 2004: Jefferson Parish Property Taxes Increased to Fund Levee Repairs that Washington Fails to Fund'

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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)).

Al Naomi, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ project manager, “begs” the East Jefferson Levee Authority for $2 million to fund necessary levee repairs that Washington has refused to fund. “The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement,” he says. “The problem that we have isn’t that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can’t raise them.” The authority agrees to fund the repairs. (Bunch 8/31/2005; Vidal 9/1/2005)

The East Jefferson Levee Authority provides the US Army Corps of Engineers with another $250,000 after learning that portions of the levee in Metairie have sunk by four feet. The extra work is funded with increased property taxes in Jefferson Parish. (Bunch 8/31/2005)

The East Jefferson Levee Authority complains that the federal government refuses to fund a hoped-for $15 million project to better shore up the banks of Lake Pontchartrain. (Bunch 8/31/2005)

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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