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Upgraded New Orleans dikes pass the first major test



Parts of the embankment system installed in New Orleans by the United States Army Corps of Engineers after Hurricane Katrina appear to have been designed and helped save the city from Hurricane Ida's storm surge.

However, other parts of the city's flood protection system remain untested because Ida's storm surge did not reach them.

Ida made the first landing on August 26 near Port Fourchon about 60 miles south of New Orleans and then again southwest of Galliano, Louisiana.

The risk reduction system for hurricanes and storm damage, built after Katrina flooded large parts of the city in 2005, protects Jefferson, New Orleans and St. Louis. Bernard & # 39; s congregations, says Kelli Chandler, regional director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East.

The agency handles 1

92 miles of dikes and floods along the east bank of the Mississippi River, she said.

"It definitely did what it was supposed to do," Chandler said. “It was very efficient and worked as expected. This reduced the risk of storm surge in the area.

Reducing potential storm surge damage can improve an organization's insurance exposure profile.

FM Global insured properties that are protected by a tire that is sufficiently designed to withstand a 500-year flood and that are well maintained are rated as a risk of reduced risk of flooding, says Katherine Klosowski, Vice President and CEO, natural risks and structures of the insurer.

"A adequately designed and maintained embankment can prevent significant flood damage to businesses, roads needed to move products and people to and from business and to the local community, where the local workforce often lives," says Ms. Klosowski.

FM Global has a team of engineers who specialize in evaluating dikes, which are often large and complex structures that require regular inspection and maintenance, she said.

The parts of the system that were tested worked well, but other areas went untouched and therefore untested. Elsewhere, ramparts were raised that were not raised but only repaired after Katrina was skipped.

“Did it work? We really do not know yet, says Craig E. Colten, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Mr. Colten said the part of the dike system that was "relatively new and very modified … seemed to have suppressed storm surge and prevented it from entering the industrial canal. I think the flood barrier and the reinforcement of these dikes helped. It shut down the Mississippi Gulf Outlet. Two roads for water to enter from the east side of the city were basically blocked. "

However, some parts of the system did not see the same level of surge and were not forced to perform, he said." What was called improvements in Jefferson Parish what we call " The West Bank. "Those parts were not properly tested."

Elsewhere, down the river, parts of the hurricane protection system that did not offer the same level of protection were topped, Mr. Colten.

said. "These ramparts were not raised or raised higher after Katrina "they were just repaired," he said.

The benefits of mitigating floods and water damage can be felt outside New Orleans' city limits due to its vibrant global shipping. Louisiana Port is first in tonnage, according to U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

"Not only is it worth it for the city of New Orleans, it is also worth it for the nation," Chandler said, due to the port's strategic role and its status as an important international shipping hub.

"Economically, New Orleans' flood protection is a wise investment," said Sandy Rosenthal, founder of Levees.org, a nonprofit public education program founded in 2005 after Katrina destroyed New Orleans. "The flood protection of New Orleans protects a region with a high density of people, property and infrastructure," as does the port's shipping.

Ms. Rosenthal, author of "Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina", published in August 2020, said that construction costs for dikes were under higher pressure due to the urgent project after Hurricane Katrina and the resulting compressed time frame. The final cost of the project was about $ 15 billion.

“The reason why the price tag was so high for the new system was that it had to be built really fast. An entire city was vulnerable, she says. By comparison, the original system, approved in 1965, would take 13 years to build at a cost of $ 85 million, Rosenthal said.

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