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“Pro-New Orleans, Anti-War” Web Site Announces Redesign, Expansion

LeveesNotWar.org marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a top-to-bottom redesign of its web site and expansion of features.

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September 8, 2009 (FPRC) -- NEW YORK CITY - LeveesNotWar.org, the New York–based, New Orleans–dedicated political action web site, is excited to announce a complete redesign in a fresh new blog format by the web design firm Spud Alley (formerly Green Tangerine Media) of Portland, Oregon.

“With this new WordPress platform we’ll be a more robust, interactive presence,” said founder Mark LaFlaur. “Now we can capitalize on social media like Twitter to connect with readers, and readers can contribute comments and forward posts to friends. We want to thank Spud Alley—their excellent work will help us get the word out there like never before. And that’s good for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.”

In addition to reader comments, the blog’s new features include a robust search function, enhanced navigation, RSS feed capability, YouTube videos, retrievable archiving of earlier material, and other improvements. The interactive functions will let readers be alerted to new postings and open up discussions about current events.

“Many of these are standard blog features,” LaFlaur explained, “but we’re excited because we haven’t offered them before. The search function will help readers find their way around our archives. And occasional visitors may not know that, for example, we have links to Katrina-related photographs and videos. We also have a well-stocked Literature page with an Infrastructure Reading Room, an Iraq War Resource Center, and so on.”

Founded in 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, LeveesNotWar.org seeks to focus public demand for serious, common-sense funding for a robust, comprehensive flood protection system (coastal restoration + infrastructure) for America’s beloved city of New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast. The group’s motto is “National Security Begins at Home.”

“The time is right for an upgrade,” said LaFlaur. “There’s a more sympathetic administration in Washington now, and a top-notch new FEMA director in Craig Fugate. And now Levees Not War is in stronger shape to generate public support and political will in Washington and Baton Rouge for the changes we need: stronger funding for flood protection, emergency preparedness, and coastal restoration programs for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.”

As before, the site will focus on infrastructure, anti-war, and environmental issues as they relate to rebuilding New Orleans, with secondary attention to social services such as housing, health care, and education. Recent reporting projects have covered coastal restoration, the Stimulus bill’s infrastructure investments, and proposals in Congress for a Gulf Coast Civic Works Act and a National Infrastructure Development Bank.

In addition to conducting interviews with eminent experts such as Ivor van Heerden and Pulitzer Prize–winning environmental reporter Mark Schleifstein, Levees Not War will continue to be a resource center for links to other “Katrina bloggers,” relief and recovery groups, and environmental organizations. The Political Action page contains contact information to make it easy to exert pressure on elected officials from Washington to Louisiana.

Levees Not War is relentless in pressing Washington and Louisiana officials for a “multiple lines of defense strategy” for southern Louisiana: coastal restoration and Category 5–strength storm protection. “If the Dutch can do it, why can’t we?” asks LaFlaur. “That’s what Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu asks after her recent visit to the Netherlands. We support the mission of FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers want to help them get the funding they need to ‘be all they can be.’ They can’t do their job without public and congressional support. That’s what we’re pushing for.”

Levees Not War works on the national level while many other bloggers are working in New Orleans or elsewhere in Louisiana on specific local issues. “Four years after Katrina, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still need all the help they can get,” LaFlaur observed. “There’s a lot of great blogging and reporting being done, particularly by Len Bahr at LaCoastPost, Karen Gadbois of Squandered Heritage, and the activism of Levees.org (a separate but friendly group).”

The web site’s content and reporting has been helped by consultation with experts at the LSU Hurricane Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Port of New Orleans, and engineers on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) levee-breach investigation team, and with public officials in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Washington, D.C. Levees Not War has been mentioned online in the Washington Post, The Nation, Huffington Post, and DailyKos.

“Finally, if ‘homeland security’ means anything,” says LaFlaur, “it means taking care of our people, our land, and investing in our cities.”

The web address is: http://leveesnotwar.org

Further information is available at leveesnotwar@mac.com.

—Mark LaFlaur, Kew Gardens, New York City

Send an email to Mark LaFlaur of leveesnotwar.org
516-578-1386



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