Sunday, March 26, 2006

Flood Danger a Security Issue

This Bee story from Saturday the 18th highlights how important the flood danger is in Sacramento, as a security issue, since the devastating tragedy in New Orleans, to the point that the national homeland security chief came here to tour the levees.

The continuing tragedy in New Orleans is movingly described in a story in today’s Bee, Forum section, by Stuart Leavenworth, who traveled there to help in the clean-up recently.

Here is an excerpt from the Chertoff visit.

Chertoff tours levees, vows to seek aid
By Deb Kollars -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, March 18, 2006

Following an aerial tour over Sacramento on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff pledged to seek more federal dollars for levee repairs but said he would have a hard time securing a federal disaster declaration for the region.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked the Bush administration to declare a federal emergency on the levee system of the Central Valley to help speed repairs, and he invited Chertoff to see the weak levee system firsthand.

The two took a 40-minute aerial tour over two vulnerable areas, Sacramento's Natomas and Pocket communities. During a news briefing later, Chertoff was asked what caught his attention from the air.

"There's a lot of water," he said.

Chertoff said federal emergency declarations usually come only after an actual event has happened, or is imminent within a day or so.

He said legal issues may stand in the way of getting such a declaration for California when a flood had not occurred, but added that he would look for other ways to bring more federal assistance, possibly through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"We're going to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, and I am going to take this message back to Washington," he said.