The problem is, work has been planned on upgrading these levees for years. New Orleans is (was) built on a flood plain. The whole city (and in some cases, the levees) sink an inch or two every decade. And the city was founded in the early 1700's. Normally, if the city and levees weren't there, the plain would naturally flood and dump sediment that would would keep it at or above sea level, but because of the levees this doesn't happen; the city only sinks deeper and deeper.... The biggest problem (as I see it) is that monies that were earmarked for levee improvements were not used effectively, through State and local mismanagement. As one former government official had put it, to paraphrase "We don't have a money problem, we have a problem putting it in the ground (effectively making use of it)". Well, this is the political equivalent of "Please, cut my budget" and the Feds did just that. But in reality, the state and local governments don't have the tax base (because of the average income of the citizens) to raise the money to make up for the federal cuts. SO then it becomes a back and forth finger pointing session between the three levels of government. But the net result is NOTHING got done, and the results are what we are seeing now. All are equally to blame.