Reuters - Video

Edition: U.S. | U.K. | IN | CN | JP

Top News

Ten years and $14 billion later, New Orleans better protected

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 02:49

After the storm surge generated by Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans in August 2005, a $14.5 billion infrastructure project now protects the city from a ''100-year'' storm. Gavino Garay reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Ten years ago, the London Avenue Canal Floodwall in New Orleans breached in the wake of Hurricane Katrina . It was a storm that wreaked havoc on the city, killing more than1,800 people and causing an estimated $151 billion in damage. The floodwaters from the breach killed dozens of residents in the surrounding Gentilly neighborhood alone. Today, that disaster site has become this open-air museum, where Levees.org founder Sandy Rosenthal braves the sweltering temperatures to tell tourists about what she says was more than just a natural disaster. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SANDY ROSENTHAL, FOUNDER OF LEVEES.ORG, AN ADVOCACY GROUP FOCUSED ON EDUCATION AND FLOOD PROTECTION, SAYING: "The survivors deserve for everyone to know the vetted facts about the flooding. The survivors deserve for everyone to know that we were flooded because of civil engineering failure, not due to just Mother Nature." She blames the flooding on the Army Corps Engineers trying to save money by keeping an antiquated system in place... (SOUNDBITE) (English) SANDY ROSENTHAL, FOUNDER OF LEVEES.ORG, AN ADVOCACY GROUP FOCUSED ON EDUCATION AND FLOOD PROTECTION, SAYING: "At a savings of $100 million, they determined they only needed to drive sheet-piling down into the levees 17 feet instead of 50, and during Katrina, these walls fell over on both sides." Fast forward ten years, things have dried up.. but keeping the city safe has come at a premium cost for American taxpayers… At $14.5 billion, a new system known as Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System is nearly complete. It's designed to mitigate storm surge before it enters the city's borders. Flood walls help block incoming water from nearby lakes before it reaches the drainage canals within the city. The levees are reinforced and flood walls fortified in a way that the Army Corp's, Colonel Richard Hansen, says makes the city better protected than ever before. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COLONEL RICHARD HANSEN, COMMANDER OF THE NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, SAYING: "We used much more robust material standards for construction materials - much more stringent designs. And we want those, we built those features to be resilient to possible over-topping, so they won't erode. They can even be resilient to a greater than 100 year or 1 percent storm." But Katrina had more force than a one in one-hundred years storm. It was a one in four-hundred year event. Even so, Hansen says the system would better withstand the pressure. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COLONEL RICHARD HANSEN, COMMANDER OF THE NEW ORLEANS DISTRICT, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, SAYING: "We can be confident that the system would perform much better than what we saw in 2005." But for many New Orleans residents, remembering the more than 1,800 whose lives were lost ten years ago... building back better today is too little, too late.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Ten years and $14 billion later, New Orleans better protected

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 02:49