Dynamite? History repeating itself?
Many locals have come forward to suggest that the levees were breached on purpose by the authorities. Resident Andrea Garland, now re-located to Texas, wrote in her blog:
"Also heard that part of the reason our house flooded is they dynamited part of the levee after the first section broke - they did this to prevent Uptown (the rich part of town) from being flooded.
Apparently they used too much dynamite, thus flooding part of the Bywater. So now I know who is responsible for flooding my house - not Katrina, but our government."
This scenario is not so crazy as it sounds, in fact this exact thing has happened before in the same city. In 1927, the Mississippi River broke its banks in 145 places, depositing water at depths of up to 30ft over 27,000 square miles of land.
The disaster changed American society, shifting hundreds of thousands of delta-dwelling blacks into northern cities and cementing the divisions and suspicions that benign neglect has ensured remain today.
New Orleans’ (mainly white) business class pressurized the state to dynamite a levee upstream, releasing water into (mainly black) areas of the delta. Black workers were forced to work on flood relief at gunpoint, like slaves.
This information is covered in depth in a book by John M. Barry entitled Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and how it Changed America, 1997 which has incidentally become heavily in demand after Katrina.
Furthermore, levees were also intentionally broke after Hurricane Betsy struck New Orleans in 1965, admittedly with less of an impact. The tactic of breaking the dikes is not uncommon, as this CNN report on China's flood plains highlights.
Engineers have now punched holes in several levees in parts of New Orleans where flood levels were higher than the water in drainage canals leading to Pontchartrain, in order to let water flow out.
There were reports of many explosions heard in New Orleans, officials say they were transformers blowing up. Total Information Analysis has reported a claim by intelligence expert Tom Heneghen that 25 earwitnesses cited explosions immediately before the levee breach.
Similar reports are now appearing in many web blogs:
"He also mentioned that right before the mass flood there was a loud sound like an explosion." - News from St. Bernard
"I'll tell you the worst thing I've heard and I heard it from my mother. She said she heard several blasts - big booms - right before the levees broke. Several blasts and then all the water came pouring in." - aangirfan
Although these are obviously not authoritative sources of information, it is interesting to note how many local people are reporting this. So interesting in fact that the mainstream has picked up on it in places.
The Washington Post reported on the comments of a retired school teacher:
"Mullen has a schoolteacher's kindly demeanor, so it was jarring to hear him say he suspected that the levee breaks had somehow been engineered to keep the wealthy French Quarter and Garden District dry at the expense of poor black neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward -- a suspicion I heard from many other black survivors."
The Globe and Mail is also carrying a similar story.
ABC World News Tonight carried a report which contained an interview with a local, who described how a floating barge had rammed the levee. The man seemed convinced that the levee was purposefully broken. A transcript of which has appeared on the net:
David Muir: “Was it solely the water that broke the levee? Or was it the force of this barge that now sits where homes once did? Joe Edwards says neither. People are so bitter, so disenfranchised in this neighborhood, they actually think the city did it, blowing up the levee to save richer neighborhoods, like the French Quarter.”
Muir to Edwards as they stand on a bridge: “So you're convinced-”
Edwards: “I knows it happened.”
Muir: “-that they broke the levee on purpose?”
Edwards: “They blew it.”
The mysterious barge story has also been reported by many other local residents. "The evacuees who witnessed the barge striking the levee also want to know why the major media is not covering this story."
The London Observer carried an intriguing story of a man named Correll Williams, a 19-year-old meat cutter. The article states that:
"Williams only left his apartment after the authorities took the decision to flood his district in an apparent attempt to sluice out some of the water that had submerged a neighbouring district.
Like hundreds of others he had heard the news of the decision to flood his district on the radio. The authorities had given people in the district until 5pm on Tuesday to get out - after that they would open the floodgates."
Some final intriguing footage reveals a journalist questioning former President Bill Clinton as to why many locals feel that the levees were purposefully broken.
This was during the press conference with Clinton and George Bush Snr announcing their combined "relief effort" for New Orleans. Ignore the first 15 minutes of sickening joking and backslapping between the two and skip to the last minute of footage.
Upon hearing the question Clinton appears to be surprised and then simply walks off.
Click here to view the footage:
Click here to listen to an MP3 of the last 30 seconds: