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March 2, 2006
Katrina Tape Transcripts Show Media Hack Job

For those who want to see the transcripts themselves of the video conferences, the New York Times has them for the August 28th and August 29th briefings. The transcript for the 29th makes one garbled mention of the levees around New Orleans (page 6). After making the point that the storm surge would cause the greatest devastation in the Gulfport area of Mississippi, going as high as 21 feet, Max Mayfield then turns to New Orleans:

MAX MAYFIELD: ... The rest of the track we have 10 to 15 feet, in a few areas up to 16 feet. At least glimpsed it out, and Louisiana can talk a little bit more about this than I can, but it looks like the Federal levies [sic] around the City of New Orleans will not have been (incomprehensible) any breaches to.

That certainly doesn't sound like a warning -- and this was on the day the levees broke. That transcript clearly shows that the conference considered the storm surge and precipitation runoff to be the major threats of flooding in New Orleans. The possibility of breaches, even on the 29th, had been discounted.

The transcript from the August 28th meeting talked more about levees, but in the same vein, and this time no one mentions the word "breach". Starting on page 5, Max Mayfield again talks about the dangers of Lake Pontchartrain, but only in the context of the winds created a surge that could overtop the levees:

One of the valleys here in Lake Pontchartrain, we've got on our forecast track, if it maintains its intensity: about 12 1/2 feet of storm surge in the lake. The big question is going to be: will that top some of the levies? And the currrent track and the forecast we have now suggests there will be minimal flooding in the city of New Orleans itself, but we're -- we've always said that the storm surge model is only accurate within 20 percent.

If that track were to deviate just a little bit to the west, it would -- it makes all the difference in the world. I do expect that there will be some of the levies over top even out here in the western portions where the airport is. We've got valleys that can't overtop some of the levies.

The problem we're going to have here -- remember, the winds go counterclockwise around the center of the hurricane. So if the really strong winds clip Lake Pontchartrain, that's going to pile some of that water from Lake Pontchartrain over on the south side of the lake. I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levies will be topped or not, but that's obviously a very, very grave concern.

Again, the entire briefing that related to levees only focused on the effects of the wind on Lake Pontchartrain and its effect in pushing water over the top of the levees. Mayfield never even addressed the possibility of breaches in the levee walls. And in fact, the storm track shifted eastward in the final hours before Katrina hit, which eliminated much of the predicate for even the worries Mayfield expresses in this transcript.

The media got it wrong yet again on Katrina. The notion that the experts warned of levee breaches is nothing more than a hack job initiated by the AP and continued by the rest of the Exempt Media even after the source material has proven it false.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 2, 2006 7:11 AM

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» NOLA breach redux from American Geek
Yet again, it seems as if news is being created by our journalistic brethren. This time it is a rehash of the Fed's understanding of the potential severity of flooding in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Ed... [Read More]

Tracked on March 4, 2006 7:44 AM


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