The nasty levee situation (or, pick a target)
Sometimes, things are just not what they seem (nor what one may want them to be). From the LA Times (subscription required):
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and New Orleans levee officials joined forces in July 1985 to protect the city from a long-feared hurricane, the two agencies could not agree on how to proceed. It was the beginning of a dysfunctional partnership that ushered in two decades of chronic government mismanagement.
Corps engineers wanted to install gates in front of the city's three main internal canals to protect against violent storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain. The Orleans Levee District, the city's flood protection agency, preferred to build higher flood walls for miles along the canals. For five years, neither side yielded.
It just gets worse from there, folks.
You wanted a target for the failed levees? Take your pick. Somewhere between levee board and political cronyism, resentment of the corps’ attitude, apparent laissez-faire approaches toward inspections, funding failures, and total disorganization, you’ll find your answer.
As I once wrote, there’s plenty of blame to go around for the next hundred years. Why am I not surprised?