Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, the [Army Corps of Engineers] commander, conceded Friday that the government had known the New Orleans levees could never withstand a hurricane higher than a Category 3. Corps officials shuddered, he said, when they realized that Katrina was barreling down on the Gulf Coast with the vastly greater destructive force of a Category 5 -- the strongest type of hurricane.For the benefit of the mathematically challenged among us, let me point out that a plan's 0.5% failure rate means that, over time, the plan will fail 1 out of 200 times. In other words, a 1 in 200 chance of the catastrophic destruction of U.S. city is an acceptable risk to the Bush administration.
Washington, he said, had rolled the dice.
Rather than come up with the extra millions of dollars needed to make the city safer, officials believed that such a devastating storm was a small probability and that, with the level of protection that had been funded, "99.5% of the time this would work."
Unfortunately, Strock said, "we did not address the 0.5%."
I wonder: Where else -- in Chicago and around the nation -- have Bush officials found a staggering 1 in 200 chance of the catastrophic destruction to be acceptable?