TIME Preview: New Orleans Still In Grave Danger As Hurricane Season Arrives

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By: E&P Staff In this week?s cover story coming in Time magazine tomorrow, Michael Grunwald finds in New Orleans a "pathetic" situation: Many of the same coastal scientists and engineers who sounded alarms about the dangers to that city before Hurricane Katrina are warning that the Army Corps of Engineers is ?poised to repeat its mistakes?and extend them along the entire Louisiana coast ?

"If you liked Katrina, they say, you?ll love what?s coming next ? As the disaster?s Aug. 29 anniversary approaches, there will be plenty of talk about the future of New Orleans ? But in the long run, recovery plans won?t matter much if investors, insurers and homesick evacuees can?t trust the Corps to prevent the city from drowning again."

The cover shows a floodwall and the heading, "Special Report: Why New Orleans Still Isn't Safe." The deck reads: "Two years after Katrina, this floodwall is all that stands between New Orleans and the next hurricane. It's pathetic. How a perfect storm of big-money politics, shoddy engineering and environmental ignorance is setting up the city for another catastrophe."

The 12-page story is followed by gallery of photos of "The Displaced."

The Corps has announced ?12 actions for change,? Grunwald writes, but ?it?s hard to find outsiders who believe that it has moved beyond its teach-Mother Nature-a-lesson roots. It?s still not a Corps of ecologists. And its projects are still a popular form of political swag for its enablers on Capitol Hill....

?In recent years the Government Accountability Office, National Academies of Science and Pentagon inspector general have documented the agency?s bias toward approving projects that keep its 35,000 employees busy and its congressional paymasters happy.?

G. Edward Dickey, a former Corps chief of planning, tells TIME, ?Nothing has changed. It?s the same engineering mentality, except now they?ll build levees even bigger.?

?Katrina wasn?t even close to the Big One,? LSU researcher Ivor van Heerden tells TIME. ?We better start getting ready.?

Grunwald concludes the special report by calling forf "better levees and more wetlands. Otherwise, it's going to need an obituary."

Elsewhere in the issue, columnist Joe Klein warns of the undue influence of liberal activists on the presidential race, while Michael Kinsley writes: ?Political opinions are like old-fashioned airline tickets, with no change penalty ? [but] the opinions of American citizens do matter ? The United States is now despised around the world because of the Iraq ?situation? ? This is not all the fault of the pundits or of ?Washington? or of politicians. It is the fault of all of us as a nation and many of us as individuals. It?s nice that such a large majority of Americans now feel that the Iraq adventure was a mistake. It would be nicer if even a small majority had thought so back when this would have made a difference.?

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