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August 24th, 2010
10:12 AM ET

Letters to the President #582: 'Trust me, dam it (and no, that's not a typo)'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is scheduled to visit New Orleans to mark the 5th anniversary of Katrina. I didn’t get him a card, but I am marking the occasion with yet another letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Went for a boat ride out in the eastern part of New Orleans today and saw an impressive sight: a two mile long dam being built across a lake to stop the surge of water that can come with a hurricane. Really a grand bit of architecture from your pals in the Army Corps of Engineers, and along with improvements to levees, floodwalls, and pumping stations, I hope it will be an encouraging sign for many folks here in the neighborhoods that suffered the worst flooding.

As we walked on top of this monolith, I talked with Corps officials and they clearly feel not only proud of having made real progress in a short time (well, short in terms of projects like this, which are a bit more involved than Flip This House,) but also confident that this will make a difference. You can hear it in their voices and see it in their faces as they point to all the other improvements they are making to the city’s hurricane protection system: Barriers that have been raised much higher, braced to be much stronger, and overall made into much more formidable walls against disaster.

Still, I know there are people here who have doubts. Big ones. And it comes down to one thing: The Corps told them for years that the levees and floodwalls were solid, and when the big storm came, some of those barriers folded like tissue. (Well, not exactly like tissue, but they certainly didn’t hold up.) So what the Corps has to rebuild here is not only physical, but also mental. They have to make people believe once more that the government can be trusted in this matter. As you know, in this day and time, that can be a real challenge.

So the Corps folks are taking reporters like me out to see what they have done, so we’ll tell our audiences about it. They are convinced that if enough folks see the progress, word will spread that this really is an improvement over what came before. For everyone’s sake, I hope they are right. I hope it is stronger. I hope it all works. It certainly looks like it might.

Anyway, that’s what I was up to today. Terribly hot out there. So when you come down, bring some lightweight shirts. Hey, how about being the first president to hold a presser in shorts? That would be wild. Call if you can.

Regards,
Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    Thanks for the update on the dam. I certainly hope it provides a better support this time. Lord knows we are all depending on some type of support during these crazy times!

    Thanks,
    C

    August 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  2. Lois Zimmerman

    This morning my daughter called me and she was extremely upset concerning the recent ruling on Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Research, when US District Court Judge Royce Lambert, in his infinite wisdom, put a halt on Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy Research because of the same old argument.

    You see, our family has a very special interest in this. In 2006 my son in law suffered a stroke during brain surgery and went blind. In 2007 we went to a hospital in New Delhi, India in the hopes that their progressive work in the field of Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy, would help Will regain his vision.

    Two trips to India and 3 years later, he is well on his way to regaining his vision. The Stem Cells are working! Doctors here in this country are absolutely floored by his progress.

    The point is this, we shouldn't have had to go to India! This should be available in our great country!

    So my question to my friends and family is this? Didn't we vote on this? Didn't we elect Obama so that issues like Embryonic Stem Cell Research in this country could finally resume after the 8 year moratorium that the Bush administration put on this research. Why is it, that we were a country founded on separation of church and state, but yet, in recent years, it appears that religious rights groups, and right wing conservatives are taking over our liberties and freedoms in an attempt to shove their backward, ignorant way of thinking down our throats. Isn't enough, enough?!!!!

    August 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  3. Eugenia

    Still, I know there are people here who have doubts. Big ones. And it comes down to one thing: The Corps told them for years that the levees and floodwalls were solid, and when the big storm came, some of those barriers folded like tissue

    or newspaper

    August 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm |