Hurricane Expert Claims He was Fired by LSU for Speaking Out About Blame for Katrina Flooding

Sunday, February 14, 2010
(photo: Reuters)

Ivor van Heerden made no secret following Hurricane Katrina who he believed was at fault for the flooding of New Orleans. In numerous interviews he gave to the media, the university hurricane expert blamed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which built the levees that were supposed to protect the vulnerable city from a major storm.

In his book The Storm, van Heerden said the Corps’ engineering mistake caused levees to fail even though Katrina did not hit New Orleans head-on in August 2005. His outspokenness eventually cost him his job at Louisiana State University in 2009, van Heerden claims, and he is now suing to get his faculty position back.
According to his lawsuit, LSU officials were worried that the federal government would stop supporting the university if they kept van Heerden around. He says his former employer publicly branded him as “incompetent and irresponsible” because of his statements and terminated him “by manipulating the policies and procedures governing faculty appointments at LSU.”
Van Heerden, originally from South Africa, first joined LSU in 1992, and rose to become deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center and director of the LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Hurricane Expert Says LSU Fired Him For Criticizing Army's Levees (by Sabrina Canfield, Courthouse News Service)
Ivor van Heerden v. LSU (19th Judicial District Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge, Louisiana) (pdf)
Outspoken Hurricane Expert Sues Over Dismissal (by John Schwartz, New York Times)


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