New Orleans is back! Recently, I have read a lot about the completion of its new defenses and I could not be more happy about the progress. You see, New Orleans is very close to my heart.
I attended law school in New Orleans and lived through the most costly storm in United States history. I was forced up to New York, where Fordham University allowed me to continue studies. From the apartment that Fordham University furnished me, I wondered if New Orleans would ever return.
Over the past 5 and a half years, New Orleans has astonished all of us. If you have had the great opportunity to visit, you have probably seen state of the art flood prevention gates, new multi-income housing developments and sustainable “hurricane-proof” homes.
I have had the great pleasure of continuing the practice of law in New Orleans and maintaining a close connection with the city I call my favorite. This is precisely why it was so exciting to hear that the Army Corps of Engineers, a group of Dutch engineers and a few Louisiana contractors had installed another major flood gate – 6 weeks ahead of schedule. The Army Corps expects to have its $14.6 Billion defense system in place, just in time for the new hurricane season and the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Thankfully, the US Army Corps brought the best minds in engineering into the fold. Their inclusion of German and Dutch engineers, who have experience building complex canal systems in Europe, might just save our great cultural city.
Unfortunately, despite designing a system that should go to 2057 and beyond, there is still risk that the city could fall victim to the 100 year storm. From ENR.com:
“I won’t say protected, but your risk is greatly reduced for a 100-year event,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, chief of engineers and commanding general of the Corps.
“We have multiple lines of defense on a lot of our projects, whether they be ecosystem restoration or risk reduction projects of levees and floodwalls,” said Col. Edward Fleming, commander of the Corps’ New Orleans District.
“There is always going to be a residual risk, so what you need to do is have a plan in place….a full tank of gas, and an evacuation plan. And you have to listen to your elected officials because when they say it’s time to evacuate, evacuate, because there is always going to be some residual risk.”
Considering the risks, New Orleans has spent 5.5 years building everything with the intention of fending off a storm. Its not just the levees and floodgates, its the developments, roads and homes that will help to protect New Orleans. And all of it comes from the healthy minds of our great construction industry.