By ABBY EVANS
Recent levee ruptures in Iowa and Missouri may reflect larger failures of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) raised by whistleblower Maria Garzino. And there may be more tragedies on the horizon: in 2007, USACE released a list of 146 levees across America that are at risk of failing. In an article this week in Politico, Harry Shearer gave a curtain raiser to a letter Garzino sent to the Obama Administration earlier this year that fully exposes the degree of deception by USACE. The letter reveals not only a shockingly detailed portrait, but also the attempts of government officials to prevent Garzino from blowing the whistle at all.
Garzino details how the Corps knowingly installed equipment that cannot adequately protect the city of New Orleans from flooding; duplicated work that cost US taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars; and deliberately deceived Congress as to the nature of and reason for this work.
In March of this year, POGO held a special screening of Harry Shearer’s The Big Uneasy, which follows Maria Garzino, as well as the leaders of two scientific investigation teams, as they reveal the true story of why New Orleans flooded in 2005. The film shows why Hurricane Katrina evolved into a disaster that could have been avoided, focusing in particular on the poor science and management decisions made by USACE.
The Big Uneasy offers an urgent reminder for all U.S. citizens to learn from the tragedies of New Orleans and ask their representatives to reform USACE—and not to wait for disaster to strike again, either in New Orleans, Iowa, or elsewhere.
We need to push Congress to investigate the documented failings of the USACE and determine what can be done to protect the rest of the leveed cities from a Katrina-like catastrophe.
If you're interested in getting involved or being a part of the whistleblower discussion, stay tuned for our upcoming 3rd annual Whistleblower Film Series (in association with the DC Labor Film Festival) in October 2011.
Abby Evans is a Development Associate at the Project On Government Oversight
Image of Abby Evans, Harry Shearer, and Maria Garzino by Bruce Guthrie