Quick one: Let's get something clear, because it's starting to irritate me: the levees in New Orleans did not breach or break. The levees are intact. When I mentioned in an earlier post that no one foresaw levees breaking (as opposed to overflowing), that's because levees are enormous mounds of reinforced earth fifty feet wide at the bottom. They can overflow, but breaching is highly unlikely.
What did break in NOLA were canal floodwalls, much smaller, steel-and-concrete structures much more likely to be damaged by some kind of impact or extreme pressure.
And here's the part that irritates me: Yes, the levees are the responsibility of the thoroughly inept and historically corrupt NOLA levee district, not the federal government. But the levees didn't break. The floodwalls on the outfall canals did, and the canals are the joint responsibility of the levee board, the NOLA sewerage and water and the Corps of Engineers. This canal work was put on hold when federal funding was cut. Okay? The levees did not break, and what did break is not the sole responsibility of the levee district -- it's also a federal responsibility.
EDIT: In the blizzard of contradictory reports, I may have missed news of the storm surge overflowing the levees. I don't know if that happened or not; I wouldn't be surprised. But overflow is not the same as a breach, and those pictures we've all seen on the news were of floodwall breaches, not levee breaches. Despite what nearly every published report says. C'mon: these people aren't from here. They don't know the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine, or Jambalaya and Dirty Rice, or Zydeco versus Cajun music; they think the Atchafalaya swamp is a quick swim from the CBD and that everyone in NOLA has a French accent. I doubt they could tell a levee from a coulee without flashcards. "Levee" just sounds more southern, so that's what gets used instead of boring old "floodwalls." Okay, fine. They breached. First floodwalls, then levees.