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November 19th, 2009
09:20 AM ET

Court: Army Corps liable for Katrina flooding

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A federal judge has ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers is to blame for Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish. He says the Corps failed to properly maintain a shipping channel.

Overall, the storm damage covered more than 90,000 square miles and displaced nearly 300,000 people, causing more than
$81 billion in damage. FEMA called Katrina "the single most catastrophic
natural disaster in U.S. history."

This ruling could lead to billions in damage claims.

Post your comments here, and Fredricka will read some of them in the Newsroom, from 9-11am ET.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield • Heidi Collins
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Gregory

    The government should foot the bill for healthcare before they pay for people building their homes in disaster-prone areas. How is the Corps responsible for the weather?

    November 19, 2009 at 9:48 am |
  2. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    The government seems to have a hand in all the failures in this state lets not for get the mobile homes how much was wasted on that this whole event falls back to the governer and mayor not the army core.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:01 am |
  3. JLp

    greedy ******, now we have retards sueing the army?!?!?!?!?

    November 19, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  4. Larry

    The Government has given them millions of dollars to fix New Orleans...
    Now they are going to sue the Army for something they did!!! When they build there they must of know that this could happen... So why should they be able to sue the Government for it???

    November 19, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  5. John - Now-in-BatonRouge

    How does this ruling affect the levee break in New Orleans downtown & lake front?

    November 19, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  6. patty Ursomanno

    i think people should stop blamming other people, lets not forget that the residents were told to leave and didn't, then they were saved and to my belief were paid for there total loss and paid well if you seen the homes, for the situation i feel the people who helped did the best they can under the sercumstances, as a retired New York City cop nothing is ever good enough especialy for those that never help others, there the ones that expect the most

    November 19, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  7. Sparce

    Not that the Corps should not be heald responsable, but willl the poloticains who cut taxes and infrastructure funding alos pay. What about all us good Americans who chose lower taxes over protecting our neighbor. Sad to think that many of our problems with jobs, and the economy would not exsist or be more managable right now if we had continued to fund federal projects instead of funding private industry.
    How can we ignore history?

    November 19, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  8. Michael Foran

    While katrina was a horrific natural disaster, you can't blame the army core of engineers. For 40 years they have been trying to keep a land mass that is below sea level from flooding. Tens of thousands of claims will now be made against (ourselves) and paid to line the pockets of greedy lawyers and suck down our tax dollars at a time when we can't afford it. This flooding will happen again in the future. Are we to be held responsible for the safety of people who knowingly live below sea level??? Sounds crazy to me!

    Mike Foran

    Manorville, New York

    November 19, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  9. Roger

    This is a Chronicle of an Announce Death as the title of the book.
    The so called Army Corps of Engineers does not have any Professional Engineer to back up what they are doing.
    They train some high school graduates for a couple of years as a technicians and then put them to work as "engineers".
    Not only that but the government is using the same kind of people to evaluate the bids they receive for engineered equipment and they do not know what they are reviewing or inspected because they are not qualified to perform the job.
    An example is the DCMA Defense Contract Management Agency
    This people told me that the US Government does not need to follow State laws requiring to have Professional Engineers

    November 19, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  10. Sam I Am

    The mission of the Army Corps of Engineers states, in part, that it will "energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters." Surely their canal reduced the risk people undertook when erecting structures in this area. On the flip side, if the government hands out money for this, it will "energize the economy," locally, right?

    November 19, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  11. Scott H.

    So one of the most severe hurricanes in recent US history strikes a community that was built on the Gulf coast, practically at sea level, but the damage is the Army Corps of Engineers fault??? Sadly, I'm seldom surprised at the idotic rulings coming out of our court system anymore.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  12. jeanene frank

    I remember as this was going on that one of the reporters said the President had not OK'd money for the engineers to repair and upgrade this area for years. Let us put the blame where it belongs.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  13. nick

    The flooding of N.O. wasn't directly the result of Katrina. In fact, Katrina passed and everyone thought all was well. Then, the levies failed and the high water came in. The failure of having proper levies caused the N.O. tragedy. Whoever was responsible for the maintaining of the levies was directly responsible for the flooding in N.O.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  14. Ramona Green

    If someone doesn't have the money to leave, or the resources,what are your suggestions. It shouldn't have taken 5 days for food and water to reach the area. Every state will feel some type of devastation with water, fire, snow, wind etc. To turn your noses up at Louisiana residents is a bit much. Just wait, your turn will come to be in severe need of help and will you welcome comments of "why didn't they leave after they were told" from others that haven't been afflicted yet?

    November 19, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  15. Dennis Leiterman

    I think this is wrong....the army engineers or the government are not responsible for the weather or where these people live. These people live below sea level. It would be like helping someone living next to a volcano asking for help after it erupts. I live in northern Ohio...when the weather gets cold and snowy, I don't get help with gas bills or snow removal.

    Eastlake, Ohio

    November 19, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  16. Mrs. Eileen G. Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    I wonder if the information, facts, etc. provided to the federal judge who has ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers is to be blame for the Hurricane Katrina flooding in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish will be provided to the attorneys now. This information is important to establish the failure of the Corps of Engineers to properly maintain a shipping channel. The citizens have long waited this decision. The storm damage covered more than 90,000 square miles and displaced nearly 300,000 people, causing more than $81 billion in damage. This ruling could lead to billions in damage claims to the citizens.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  17. martin

    well this is confusing new orleans is below sea level (and it is still sinking) what are going to do when the oceans start to raise ? why not pay for them to move to higher ground and if thy want to stay well let them stay just another excuse that the bigger dog gets tne publisity

    November 19, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  18. Catherine Driessen

    This country can't afford to keep rebuilding the coastal areas. If any judgements are made, the neighborhoods they are compensating should be relocated sufficiently north of the flood zone.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  19. fabian roberts

    I would just like to say it is about time that somebody is accountable for this mess. You can't say that the mayor and the govenor should be the only one accountable for this mess. It is a shame that the people who placed their comments this morning could live with themselves after clicking the send button on the computer. What do you mean remember the wasted money on mobile homes. Where were more than 2 million people who were affected by this going to lay there head down at night and just live day by day, going by your comment they had no chance at staying with you or your family. When the leves were built it was a band-aid for a flesh wound as the years went by they (The Army Corps of Engineers) knew that the leves needed to be updated but never was and that is whos fault. Now 85% of the 9th ward the people owned there homes, Katrina came destroyed the ward, but now if you want to come back to live it's going to cost money to come back. This is a way that the government can seize land to build up and make a good profit on. You will not see this right now however it is going to come. Plans for the warf are already in progress. So when they build this up there are no plans for homes which people owned before Katrina.

    November 19, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  20. Brian (Houston)

    It frustrates me when I see CNN giving all the attention to New Orleans when places like Gulf Port took a direct hit from Katrina, yet you rarely hear anything about them or Alabama. Or how bout victims of Ike and places like Galveston and Houston who also took a direct hit from Ike? Is it because the people like the Mayor of New Orleans made alot of noise? Did CNN even know there are people still missing from Boliver from Ike? Or how FEMA dropped the ball on the Ike victims as they did with Katrina. Or how insurance companies have been screwing the people of Southest Texas from Ike and Rita (2005, after Katrina).

    I've been a cnn viewer since this network came on the air in 1980, and I've never seen more bias than I do today and since TW took your network over, the bias and failure to "seek the truth" has gotten worse as time goes by. I'm VERY disappointed! "Demand the truth" you say on your promo's, yet all we get is spin. Evertime I email CNN and ask for the truth, you ignore my request. Today, CNN is no more fair and balanced then FOX or even MSNBC. The content on CNN is controled by politics and a corporation that puts ad dollars ahead of the truth where CNN used to be known for it's journalistic integrity. What a shame!

    November 19, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  21. Barney

    Let's see now, I'm a little confused. Which government is it that is corrupt because all the officials are all taking bribes??? and the one that America should do something about. I think that this was portrayed as an Afghan problem – or is it.

    November 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  22. Angie

    There is proof that for decades, as far back as the 1960's, New Orleans has tried to get the financial help to re-build a better and safer levee. The engineers as far back as the 1960's had studies that showed the levee was deteriorating, and the Congressmen through the years of New Orleans have tried to get the money to do the job.
    But for decades they have been voted down buy Republicans who considered it 'Wasteful Spending'.
    The proof is in decades of paperwork before the Congress.
    The proof is in paper work of past Govenors trying to get the help from their Congressmen.
    Why hasn't anyone investigated the paperwork.
    Now they want to blame the Engineers who built the original levees a century ago when conditions and materials and technology was NOT as good as what we have today?
    Go figure.

    November 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm |

    For all of you ignorant people ousting and bashing the people of St Bernard Parish or anyone that has been put in our shoes, take a BIGGG step back. Get your facts STRAIGHT before you assume anything. We are not suing the ARMY in that capacity of armed forces, war, terroism, etc. It's a lot more than that. The Army Corps of Engineers whom contructed our so-called levees did not give a thought to a dime about a Cat 3 – 5 storm coming over and /or breaching our levees therefore destroying everything anyone ever owned. You do not have the right to judge and put blame on others unless you know your facts. The Corps has already come clean and told on themselves! The truth is out. HOLD THE CORPS ACCOUNTABLE.

    November 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  24. alex

    Sad. Once all the lawsuits are paid, the Corps of engineers should condemn the canals and levees. The residents of New Orleans then should be forced to relocate to a safer area and the city deemed unihabitable and demolished. They cannot have it both ways.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  25. Sara

    It is true that Hurricane Katrina caused high winds and a storm surge, this was a man-made disaster because the levees burst before the tide reversed. The Army Corps of Engineers are at fault for their engineering shortcuts. It always drives me crazy when people say "Katrina", never mentioning the true cause of the stagnant water levels drowning so many citizens long after Katrina blew over. If these homes had been above sea level the flooding would have subsided within hours when the tide went back out.

    Also contributorily negligent are the citizens who chose to lived in a basin. They had to have known that there is always a possibility that, when you live in a basin below sea level, the walls protecting you may burst – yet people lived there nonetheless!

    What I find insane is the fact that they are rebuilding and moving back.
    Also insane are all the volunteers who went to help rebuild homes inside a basin.

    November 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm |
  26. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    This is a city built on swamp land that is sinking with every year that passes maybe God is like trying to tell them something for instance move your city its sinking the ocean is going to reclaim the land dont build there no more take a clue when its handed to you.

    November 20, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  27. Cris


    I am totally confused. Please tell me: What does the Roman Catholic Church have to do with OUR government figuring out Health Care? Talk about separation of church and state! This is the ultimate daring attempt to STOP our government from further paying for abortions. I thought once the prestigious Supreme Court – (the Supreme leaders of our Constitution LOL) made a decision it stood it's ground! Something is happening NOW against women: no more abortions, no more pap smears, no more mammograms – whaat is going on? And who's sleeping wh ile this is creeping into new laws?!?!?!
    This MUST be talked about – will you please read this online today? THANK YOU, CRIS from Illinois

    November 22, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  28. Cris


    RE: NOLA – A ruling has been made for those poor people and I wonder if they are really going to get what they are entitled to! I have a 'feeling' that somehow, someway, our government will either get another judge to rule against this judge or take him out of the case, or something! Our Fed Govt will NOT allow this to happen! Those people, including the ones they could not even find, deserve to get their life back and this is the ONLY way! God Bless them all and I pray this works out!

    November 22, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  29. Liberty_man

    I agree that the corps isn't what it once was. But that has to do with the politicing of it more than anything else. If they wanted to fix it now they could use the trainning first. But that's a different story.

    Now obama was just speaking on the education reform. I'll use this as an example for how non-profits can do a better job than senators and their boards of directors can. I Do think he had some good ideas..But, the key thing he should do is privatize education. But he's starting to move in the right direction... at least. On the subject of grants... i think he should just make those available to non governmental non-profits. Perhaps set up a website with the foundation center, where they can make available all the great resources they have for trainning. Pay them some of the grant money and see if they couldn't come up with a privately run program at less cost. If you put up matching funds of course. And make those available to the public to research online for free too. List all the government contracts up for bid. All the forclosure announcements and charity groups etc. I think that would be cheaper than filtering money down thru government programs that non profits are excluded from. Just put it in the public hands and let some of those corporations thru foundations that have been sheltering billions in assets in pitch in half.

    D.T Pres MCDC

    November 23, 2009 at 12:50 pm |
  30. Larry

    That would be like holding a Doctor are car manufacture responible for what they did years before... How do you expect them to see what could happen in the future... Especially when the People themselves never thought of it??? They should be the blame or building there in the fist place... Then to do it again after it happens... Is more stupid than ever!!!

    December 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  31. Larry

    If the People can sue the Army for the flooding of their houses... Does that give the People that houses got burned out because of fires else where... Get to sue the fire department???

    Maybe you should be able to sue the Police Department because someone broke into your house are robbed your business right???

    December 1, 2009 at 6:38 pm |