Saturday, August 11, 2007

“Pro-Levees, Anti-War” Web Site Announces "Overhaul"

The New York–based, New Orleans–devoted information / action network Levees Not War marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a top-to-bottom overhaul of its web site and expansion of features.

NEW YORK CITY, Aug. 10—As America’s infrastructure shows cracks all over, one of its most committed defenders is stronger than ever.

The “pro-levees” online resource announces a “total overhaul” and expansion of its information and political action web site, just in time for the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches (Aug. 29).

Founder Mark LaFlaur says, “ is now a more robust, user-friendly resource for political action than ever before. We’re calling on the White House and Congress to spend bravely and liberally on America’s people and infrastructure, and we invite everyone to use our site to fight the good fight.”

“We were lucky to hire web programmer Ed Swartz of Sandy Pond Consulting,” says LaFlaur, a Louisiana native now living in New York. “We are delighted with the top-notch work he did to make Levees Not War a more attractive and organized resource.” The street tile logo was designed by Evelyn Menge of New Orleans, maker of a popular line of classic blue-and-white tile street names instantly recognizable by anyone who knows New Orleans.

New and Improved Features

The revamped web site includes:

• News and commentary (on hurricanes, wars, etc.)
• Links to lively New Orleans and Louisiana blogs and sites
• Phone and fax numbers of the White House and Congress
• Engineers’ post-mortems and congressional testimony
• Relief and environmental groups
• Exclusive interviews with authors and experts such as Ivor van Heerden of the LSU Hurricane Center
• Well-stocked library of recommended reading

Founded in 2005 (the weekend of Hurricane Rita), Levees Not War is a nonprofit information resource and action network dedicated to generating help for the storm victims and aggressive funding for coastal restoration, as well as a comprehensive storm protection system for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The site has been has been mentioned online in DailyKos, the Washington Post, and The Nation.

Levees Not War will also participate in the second annual Rising Tide conference of “Katrina bloggers” in New Orleans August 24–26 as part of the promotional launch of the expanded, redesigned web site.

Levees Not War’s web site and advocacy work are informed by interviews and consultation with engineers, ecologists, and other experts in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Washington, D.C., including the LSU Hurricane Center, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, engineers on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ levee-breach investigation team, and the staffs of various members of Congress.

Homeland Security Begins at Home

“If ‘homeland security’ means anything,” says LaFlaur, “it means taking care of our land and investing in our cities. Like a preventive care program.”

As was seen with the post-Katrina spike in oil prices, the entire nation will pay dearly if the Port of New Orleans and the state’s oil and gas and seafood industries aren’t protected and given substantial investment. Nearly 25 percent of all oil and gas consumed in the U.S. and 80 percent of the nation’s offshore oil and gas pass through Louisiana’s wetlands—of which almost 2,000 square miles have been lost in the past century.

“New Orleanians know if they’re not safe, no American city’s safe,” says LaFlaur. While federal funding for disaster response and infrastructure reinforcement—levees, flood control pumps, etc.—is a matter of life and death for southern Lousiana, it concerns every American, regardless of residence or party affiliation. “Where is the federal government going to be when a disaster strikes your town?”

The web address is:

Further information is available at

—Mark LaFlaur, Kew Gardens, New York City