Could the floods that devastated New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have been prevented? Actor and humorist-turned-documentarian Harry Shearer thinks there's nothing natural about this disaster, and blames structural flaws and mismanagement — the fault of the Army Corps of Engineers — for the failure of the city's levees in his film, "The Big Uneasy."
"The flooding of New Orleans was not a natural disaster, but rather the product of more than four decades of design and construction flaws in a system Congress had ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build to, ironically, protect New Orleans from serious damage from a hurricane," says Shearer, whose interviews with leaders of two scientific investigations and a whistleblower provide damning evidence — and sober warnings — in the film. "Because more than 100 American cities are being similarly 'protected' by levee systems designed and built by the Army Corps," says Shearer, "what happened in New Orleans could happen next in Sacramento."
"The Big Uneasy" opens May 20 in New York and Los Angeles before a 40-city national rollout (details at thebiguneasy.com).
Tune in: In the May 22 episode of Animal Planet's "River Monsters," Jeremy Wade captures a Japanese giant salamander, a species that grows to an average 5 feet long, and may soon be at risk of extinction due to pollution, hunting, over-collection and loss of habitat.