Port Fourchon Executive Director Ted Falgout, a longtime levee protection and coastal restoration advocate, doesn't like to say "I told you so." But Monday, he said just that to a U.S. Senate committee.
Thirteen months before Hurricane Katrina struck, Falgout testified before a U.S. House subcommittee about Louisiana's coastal land loss and warned that "a well-placed Category 4 hurricane would cause the price of gasoline to go up $1, double the price of natural gas and cause huge loss of life."
"This would throw this country into an immediate recession and its impacts would dwarf the costs of protection," he told the Subcomittee on Water Resources and the Environment of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in July 2004. "I pray that the next time I testify it is not to say, 'I told you so.' "
"Well, now I get to say it. I told you so. What a hollow feeling," Falgout said Monday to three members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation during a field hearing on revitalizing south Louisiana's economy at the state Supreme Court in the French Quarter.
Falgout told committee chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and fellow Republican Sens. Craig Thomas of Wyoming and David Vitter of Louisiana that Port Fourchon plays a key role in support of 18 percent of the nation's oil supply.
"We should all be very thankful that Port Fourchon did not receive a direct hit from either storm (Katrina or Rita). If either had been just a few miles closer, my dire projections of 2004 would have been grossly underestimated," he said.
Falgout said any plan to build a sustainable coast must include levee protection, coastal restoration and critical energy infrastructure support.
"It could have been implemented at a fraction of what these storms have cost this country," he said. "Until this nation truly comes to the realization of what's at stake here in coastal Louisiana and makes the proper investment to sustain it, we will most likely remain on a collision course with an unprecedented energy shortage in this country.
Word has never been so up.
At the conclusion of the hearing, [Sen. Ted Stevens R-Alaska] said, "Rome wasn't built in a day and you won't rebuild New Orleans in a day."
Thank you for disabusing us of that illusion.
"I'm confident your region will thrive again," he added, noting that Alaska created a disaster fund after a devastating 1964 earthquake and said the United States should consider doing the same thing.
Vitter agreed but said, "The best fund is heightened levee protection."
Yeah you right Vitty-cent!
"We have to look at our spending too," [Sen. Craig Thomas R-WY] said, adding that the federal government is cutting spending to reduce the federal deficit.
"We're committed (to helping New Orleans and Louisiana), but it isn't going to be the easiest thing in the world."
Well, Senator Thomas, if you fight for us with half the berserk intensity your colleague Senator Stephens displayed when defending his road to nowhere, I'm sure we'll be fine.
The repeatings will continue until awareness improves.