New Orleans' Improved Levees Move First Large Check – Enterprise Insurance

Parts of the levee system installed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina appear to have worked as planned and helped save the city from the Hurricane Ida storm surge.

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

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

The Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, built after Katrina flooded much of the city in 2005, protects the communities of Jefferson, New Orleans and St. Bernard & # 39; s, said Kelli Chandler, regional director of Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East.

The agency manages 192 miles of levees and flood walls along the east bank of the Mississippi, she said.

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

Reducing potential storm surge damage can improve a company's insurance risk profile.

Properties insured by FM Global that are protected by a levee adequately designed and well-maintained to contain a 500-year flood are classified as a reduced flood risk, said Katherine Klosowski, vice president and manager, Natural Hazards and Structures at the insurer.

"A properly designed and maintained dam can prevent significant flood damage to businesses, roads used to transport products and people to and from stores, and the local community where the local workforce often resides," Ms said Klosowski.

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

The parts of the system that were tested worked fine, but other areas were left untouched and therefore not tested. Elsewhere, levees that were not raised but only repaired after Katrina were overflowed.

"Did it work? We really don't know yet," said Craig E. Colten, professor emeritus in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

Mr. Colten said the part of the levee system that was "relatively new and heavily modified" appeared to have suppressed the storm surge and prevented it from entering the industrial sewer. The surge barrier and reinforcement of these levees helped in my opinion. It locked the Mississippi Gulf Outlet. Two entrances for water from the east side of the city were basically blocked. "

However, some parts of the system didn't see the same surge and were not forced to perform, he said. “At Jefferson Parish, improvements have been made to what we call 'The West Bank'. These parts have not really been tested. "

Elsewhere, downriver, parts of the hurricane protection system that do not provide the same level of protection have been outperformed, Mr. Colten.

called. "These levees weren't raised or raised after Katrina, they were just repaired," he said.

The benefits of flood and water damage alleviation are felt beyond the New Orleans city limits due to the bustling global shipping activity. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the port of Louisiana ranks first in terms of tonnage.

"It's not just worthwhile for the city of New Orleans, but also for the nation," said Chandler, given the port's strategic role and status as a major international shipping hub.

"Flood control for New Orleans is a wise investment economically," said Sandy Rosenthal, founder of, a nonprofit public education institution founded in 2005 after Katrina devastated New Orleans. "The flood protection for New Orleans protects a region with a high population, material and infrastructure density" as well as the port shipping.

Ms. Rosenthal, author of "Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina," which was published in August 2020, said the cost of building the levee was low due to the urgency of the post-Hurricane Katrina project and the resulting compressed timeframe were blown up. The final cost of the project was approximately $ 15 billion.

“The price for the new system was so high because it had to be built very quickly. A whole metropolis was vulnerable, ”she said. By comparison, the original system, approved in 1965, was supposed to last 13 years and cost $ 85 million, Ms. Rosenthal said.

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