Monday, April 11, 2011
The Big Uneasy
Was the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina a natural disaster or a result of years of incredible human negligence? This is the question film maker Harry Shearer explores in his new documentary The Big Uneasy. You know Shearer better for his mockumentaries, Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind, etc. but this time he is deadly serious.
Shearer does a great job of pulling together interviews and stories from the teams that went to New Orleans immediately after the flooding began to try to figure out what went wrong. What they found was so disturbing that the government, the people who funded them, and the Universities they worked for either squashed the results, or in the worst case fired them. If you are like me and you have a vested interest in the city of New Orleans, you will not be surprised by much of what you will see in the movie. We know the wetlands have been disappearing for year and that this makes hurricanes much more intense and much more likely to reach New Orleans at full force. We know that the Corps of Engineers made inferior levees, because we saw all the pictures of sand piles and we know you can't build levees on sand. We know the pumps that were supposed to move water down the canals failed. What I didn't know was that lots the people at the Corps of Engineers knew this and they knew it for a long time before Hurricane Katrina hit. After the hurricane, they decided that any study of what went wrong should, "focus on the future and not seek to place blame." As I am sure you can guess, if blame were to be placed it would all land at the feet of the Corps.
The sad part, is that it is not getting better. The people that caused all the problems in the first place are now charged with fixing them, but the problem is they are not fixing them. They are making things worse. You will hear crazy stuff like the fact that 90% of the levees in New Orleans have not been upgraded and are essentially the same as when they failed after Katrina.
So, next time New Orleans floods, you'll know it was not a natural disaster, but a man made disaster brought to you by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Labels: Movie Review