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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Archive for April, 2009

LSU Officials Want to Hear from You! Vice Chancellors, Operators Are Standing By

Monday, April 27th, 2009


Sources indicate that LSU is feeling some pressure and has begun (considering?) a review of the dismissal. Could you please help us get Chancellor Martin to reverse the decision and reinstate Drs. van Heerden and Levitan and restore the LSU Hurricane Center with full funding?


An Open Letter to LSU Chancellor Mike Martin Re: The van Heerden Affair

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

LNW_Ivor.via.PGR• Keep Ivor van Heerden • Bring back Marc Levitan • Restore LSU Hurricane Center

The following letter has been faxed to LSU Chancellor Mike Martin, with copies to engineering dean David Constant, vice chancellors Chuck Wilson, Brooks Keel, and Robert Twilley; Governor Bobby Jindal, senators Mary Landrieu and David Vitter; Garret Graves, Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities; and R. King Milling, Chairman, America’s Wetland Foundation.


When Ivor Talks, We Listen (Hear That, LSU?)

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Ivor’s Greatest Hits
Selections from Levees Not War’s Interview with Ivor van Heerden

The following excerpts are highlights from our interview with Dr. van Heerden just before his book THE STORM was published in 2006. The interview can be read in full here.

I think what Hurricanes Rita and Katrina taught us
. . . is that the old system of doing business, however you look at it—whether it was building levees or whether it was restoring coastal wetlands—the old system didn’t work, and unfortunately we don’t see anything new right now. The Senate said we need a new version of FEMA, but nobody’s saying we need a new version of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is to my mind what we do need.

The problem with the New Orleans levees
was that they were never a high priority for the Corps’ New Orleans district. Their high priorities were navigation and dredging. And they never really seemed to have a long-term strategy of how they were going to get it done; the project kept slipping, the costs kept going up . . .


LSU Fires van Heerden of LSU Hurricane Center; Director Marc Levitan Resigns in Solidarity

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Photo of Ivor van Heerden by The New York Times.

Photo of Ivor van Heerden by The New York Times.

This is definitely one for the Fresh Hell file: Just before the Easter weekend LSU notified Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center, that it would not renew his contract (he is not tenured) and he will be out of a job by May 2010. The university is not saying why—not to him, and not to the public. The firing comes after the university has imposed limits on his contacts with the media, demoted him, and retracted storm surge modeling responsibilities from his direction, among other limitations. Ubiquitous on CNN and in print after Hurricane Katrina—he is reported to have Anderson Cooper’s cell phone number—van Heerden is well known as a critic of the Army Corps of Engineers’ design of levees and the nation’s general unpreparedness for catastrophic hurricane flooding. He is also the author of the impressive and constructively critical book The Storm: What Went Wrong and Why During Hurricane Katrina—The Inside Story from One Louisiana Scientist (2006). (See Levees Not War’s interview with van Heerden here.)


More Praise for Craig Fugate as FEMA Director-Nominee

Monday, April 6th, 2009

We’re tracking the Fugate nomination and hearings process—not scheduled yet—and we’ll keep you posted. In other good news, reported by Mark Schleifstein of the Times-Picayune, President Obama has nominated Jo-Ellen Darcy, a senior Senate adviser on environmental and water projects, to oversee the Army Corps of Engineers. (Garret Graves of Gov. Jindal’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration praises Darcy as “tough as nails and a solid choice.”) In the meantime, about Fugate . . .