Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Kind of big, if true

This is an article from this morning's Advocate looking at a program passed by the legislature that would allow the city to sell lots in the lower ninth ward it has acquired (presumably through Road Home) for $100 per lot under certain conditions. 
Under the program, advanced by Bishop, homeowners living next to each piece of property would get the first opportunity to purchase. After that, priority would be given to people who have lived in the area for at least 18 months, veterans, teachers, first responders and former neighborhood residents.

All buyers would have to redevelop the lots and live there for a minimum of five years after construction is complete.
Like the proposed New Orleans Police and Fire property tax millage increase, this program requires an amendment to the state constitution which is why you'll likely see it on your ballot this November. 

That's all very interesting, of course, but it isn't why I'm posting about it here.  What really caught my attention was this paragraph which explains why so many of these lots are empty in the first place.
In 2005, Katrina’s floodwaters sent a barge over a wall on the Industrial Canal near the St. Claude Avenue bridge. The wall collapsed, causing water to sweep aside homes and other buildings.
Those are two sentences describing two different events. 1) A barge went over the wall. 2) The wall collapsed.  Placing those sentences next to one another in that order gives the casual reader a sense of causality. One reads this and is likely to think, "Oh a barge knocked the wall over."  If true, this would be kind of a big deal.  

But no one has been able to determine that the barge caused the flooding.  In fact, this was the subject of a high-profile court case wherein a federal judge explicitly ruled that the floodwall collapse was caused by the water and not the barge.
In concluding his 42-page opinion, Duval wrote: "The horror and tragedy of the flooding that occurred in the Lower 9th Ward is one that must not be taken lightly. The testimony of those caught in the maelstrom is heartbreaking and defies belief that such a catastrophe could occur.

"However, where as here there is overwhelming evidence that the (barge) did not cause in any manner cataclysmic flooding of the Lower 9th Ward," wrote Duval, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton.
So do we need to re-open this case or just maybe de-muddle that article?

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