Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Civil Engineering Analysis from 2003 that turned out to be prescient on New Orleans' risks

From the June 2003 Civil Engineering Magazine article The Creeping Storm:
In 1999 the Corps was authorized by Congress to study the feasibility of various proposals for protecting the city against such devastating storms. An obvious possibility would be to raise the current levees to a height deemed acceptable by an AdCirc analysis. That, however, would also require widening the levees, which may not be possible in many areas because of the proximity of homes. Among other alternatives, Naomi will investigate the possibility of creating an immense wall between Lake Pontchartrain and the gulf to keep water out of the lake during a severe storm. Such a project would involve constructing massive floodgates at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes, where storm surge would enter the lake.

According to Naomi, any concerted effort to protect the city from a storm of category 4 or 5 will probably take 30 years to complete. And the feasibility study alone for such an effort will cost as much as $8 million. Even though Congress has authorized the feasibility study, funding has not yet been appropriated. When funds are made available, the study will take about six years to complete. “That’s a lot of time to get the study before Congress,” Naomi admits. “Hopefully we won’t have a major storm before then.”


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