New Orleans, La. –
The Corps has been cleared in earlier lawsuits, claiming it's legally immune from responsibility for levee breaches - even if it did design the system . But lawyers for plaintiffs in this case say the 2005 flooding stemmed from a navigation channel the Corps designed, known as the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet. Critics say the 77-mile-long channel built in the 1960s to get ships from the Gulf to the city's Industrial Canal let sea water ruin fresh water wetlands. Those wetlands protect the region from storm surges that race ahead of a hurricane. The channel known locally as "Mister Go" is now being closed by the Corps. If it's found liable, hundreds of thousands of other claims could follow. The case could be decided next month.
For NPR News, I'm Eileen Fleming in New Orleans.