Now some fresh pickings from the Hurricane Grapevine:
Democrats, and some former government engineers, blamed President Bush for cutting the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers (search), claiming the cuts left New Orleans unprepared for a major storm.
But The Washington Post reports the Bush administration has granted the corps more funding than the previous administration over a similar period and that Louisiana has received far more money for civil works projects than any other state. The paper says much of the funding has been spent not on flood control, but on lawmakers' pet construction projects, including a brand new $750 million canal lock in New Orleans unrelated to flood control.
Pelosi Didn't Know?
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (search) says she was caught unawares by the Republican announcement of a bipartisan investigation into the Hurricane response, saying, "There's been no discussion about this except I called the speaker and said I’m getting press calls about a bipartisan committee."
But sources in both parties say the idea was discussed at the White House earlier in the day by congressional leaders in a meeting with the president with Pelosi attending. In addition, Speaker Hastert was heard discussing it with Pelosi as they were leaving the White House.
Neither the administration or its critics are saying this, but one reason anti-flooding measures failed to stop Katrina from inundating New Orleans is that some environmental groups successfully resisted new flood control projects. The Sierra Club (search) and other groups sued the Army Corps of Engineers to stop a 1996 plan to raise and fortify Mississippi River levees because the plan would jeopardize Louisiana forests.
And the New Orleans Times-Picayune has reported that "Save our Wetlands" successfully sued the corps of engineers three decades ago to stop construction on floodgates to block storm surges from the Gulf of Mexico into Lake Pontchatrain (search), saying they were too damaging to the lake's eco-system.
One international organization has announced it's launching the largest relief effort in its history to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina — asking for food, bedding, and shelter to help victims with "special needs." The International Ferret Congress (search) says it needs all the help it can get to bring aid to their furry friends displaced by the storm. But finding stray ferrets in the Hurricane aftermath isn't enough for the congress, it's soliciting donations to make sure ferrets are never again endangered in a natural disaster.
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report