UPDATE: Helpful commenter “New Orleans News Ladder” posted 3 very helpful links from local New Orleans news sources that show that yes, in fact, the error report — and correction — were made by the USACE.
From a note on this morning’s Dr. Dobb’s Journal newsletter:
And math should have mattered more to the Army Corp of Engineers who announced in June that its repairs and upgrades to levees in New Orleans would let the system hold back floodwaters 5 feet beyond the Katrina level. However, more recently the corp announced that because someone used a minus sign instead of a plus sign, the levees would actually only protect against flooding 6 inches above the Katrina level.
So is it true? From News of the Weird:
CORRECTION: Last week, News of the Weird reported that the Army Corps of Engineers had admitted that an earlier calculation of improvement it had made in strengthening the levees in two New Orleans neighborhoods, which it said would withstand floods five feet higher than the level during Hurricane Katrina, was wrong and that the levees could withstand floods only six inches higher. However, the Corps subsequently corrected its correction and now stands by its initial report—improvement of more than five feet.)
For what it’s worth, about 10 minutes of Google searching turned up nothing else on this issue, pro or con. Where’s Snopes when you need it most? Nothing there either. I’m inclined to discount this report until something more substantive comes along.