New Orleans crews making final preparations for upcoming hurricane season

(Washington-AP/US Newswire) March 30, 2006 - With two months remaining prior to the official start of the 2006 hurricane season, US Army Corps of Engineers officials say they are well on their way to accomplishing the initial goal of repairing and strengthening those segments of the hurricane protection system that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Corps of Engineers officials say restoration of the 169 miles of damaged levees currently stands at:

  • Orleans East Bank: 27 percent
  • Inter-harbor Navigation Channel: 64 percent
  • New Orleans East: 72 percent
  • St. Bernard: 74 percent
  • Plaquemines: 74 percent

The effort to inspect the entire the levee and floodwall system has been ongoing since September 2005. The Corps continues to conduct both surface and subsurface inspections of the remaining 181 miles of the New Orleans-area levee system that was not visibly damaged by last year's hurricanes.

Approximately 38 miles of the system are topped by I-walls similar to those that were breached along the three outfall canals during Hurricane Katrina. So the engineers are taking specific steps to prevent further problems on those areas:

  1. Thoroughly inspect those that were not damaged
  2. Replace damaged I-walls with T-walls (2.4miles)
  3. Isolate the I-walls along the interior drainage canals from any storm surge (8.6 miles)
  4. Replace I-wall with levee enlargement in Plaquemines Parish (6 miles)

They're also making and installing temporary closure gates at the mouths of the three outfall drainage canals, and they're trying to meet a June first goal on that project as well. These massive structures, once installed, will isolate the outfall canals and their levee walls from potential Lake Pontchartrain storm surge during the upcoming hurricane season.

The gates will only be closed when the canals are potentially threatened by Lake Pontchartrain surge.

The first portions of the 17th Street Canal closure gate were placed on barges this week to begin their movement to the installation site.

"There is a great deal of work yet to be completed and inspected to meet the June first goal," said Maj. Gen. Don Riley, "and much more to be done beyond that date to effectively meet long-term hurricane protection goals."

"We will continue to work to ensure the citizens of the New Orleans area are kept fully informed of the progress of our work, and to assure them that the Corps is committed to the highest quality of design and construction."

Posted 1:57pm by Chantelle Janelle