Loyola’s New MRGO Documentary and the IHNC Lock
Loyola University’s environmental communication program recently released an hour long documentary on the now-defunct Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. The documentary included extensive interviews with Port of New Orleans and US Army Corps of Engineers officials recorded both before and after Katrina. The documentary was generally well done, with Bob Marshall of The Lens acting as narrator. The interviews with the navigation officials were, to this viewer, by far the most interesting aspect of the documentary. Gary LaGrange and Corps officials make it reasonably clear in their pre-Katrina interviews that they are playing hardball on the MRGO, and refusing to seriously consider its closure until the IHNC Lock Replacement project was funded and moving forward. This strategy amounted to blackmail, and as was their strategy for years, threatened to pit communities in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes against each other by clinging to their dream of a deepwater Inner Harbor, a dream that died along with hundred of people in 1965 when Hurricane Betsy revealed the flooding risk brought on by the one-two punch of the Inner Harbor and the MRGO. The documentary will be aired on WYES (channel 12) on the evening of October 20th. The producers of the film, including Loyola professor Bob Thomas, should be commended for the public service they’ve delivered with this excellent documentary. That being said, the short format of the film meant that the myriad issues surrounding the IHNC Lock project were not adequately delved into, and the uninformed viewer may be led into confusion about the nature of the project and its history with local communities. Considering the galling interviews with Port and USACE officials, a real opportunity existed to speak to the ongoing INHC lock dispute, which unlike the MRGO project, is still technically authorized, on the books, and will surely be resurrected by Port officials despite multiple defeats in court.