NEW ORLEANS -- The site of the London Canal levee breach became a construction dumping ground over the last nine years. Now a group of civic and city groups along with the neighbors are revealing plans for a historic monument.
Levees.org called the cause of the London Avenue wall breach during Hurricane Katrina 'human arrogance,' equivalent to the lack of life boats on the Titanic.
'The London Avenue Canal, when water was still 4 feet from the top, burst on both sides and exposed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in an attempt to cut costs, had decided that sheet pilings only needed to be driven to depths of about 17 feet instead of between 32 and 45,' said levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal.
The group said mistakes were an attempt to save $100 million in federal funds.
'Short sheeted the sheet piles. They short sheeted the city. They short sheeted our protection system and the levees failed catastrophically,' said Levees.org civil engineer H.J. Bosworth, Jr.
They revealed plans for an open-air, levee exhibit and garden as a memorial to the 1600 who died, the thousands who lost homes and property, who they say were vilified for rebuilding, and to educate visitors.
'This story needs to be told over and over and over again. This story needs to be told for at least the next 100 years,' added Rosenthal.
Nine years later, while there are people who have put the time, sweat equity and finances into beautifying their property, they have to live next door to a dilapidated house full of graffiti.
'To me, it's like it happened just a few days ago. But to a lot of other people, they just forgetting about it and we getting relaxed about what we should be doing,' said long-time resident Kenneth Evans.
For four years, he had to cut publicly owned property. People still dump their debris on empty lots. There are broken water pipes neighbors have reported to the city for several months that are still not fixed. There are overgrown lots near boarded homes. Some homes still have the open wounds from people trying not to drown by chopping through their attics.
Levees.org hopes volunteers and donations will come in to have the exhibit open for June 1, 2015, the first day of next year's hurricane season.
The Army Corps of Engineers responded to their comments by saying 'like other organizations, the Corps is comprised of people who care about New Orleans and for the last nine years, we have worked to ensure the region has the greatest level of risk reduction in its history.'
Many organizations are joining levees.org in this venture. Some are: The Gentilly Civic Improvement Association, The city of New Orleans, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority's Growing Green program http://www.noraworks.org, Parkway Partners, and others. The site is 5000 Warrington Drive.