NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Seven years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers was desperately trying to plug breaches in the city's broken and busted levee system.
Since those catastrophic days, the Army Corps has worked at breakneck speed - and at a cost of billions of dollars - to install new floodgates, pumps, floodwalls and levees across New Orleans. The work paid off. A day after Isaac hit New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, officials said the 130-mile flood protection system did its job.
“If I had to give it a grade, I would give it an A-minus, and only a minus because of the small challenges we had,” said Tim Doody, the president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, a commission that oversees levees protecting New Orleans.
The only problem came at the 17th Street Canal, the site of a breach during Katrina. When computers that are supposed to turn on pumps failed there Wednesday. Pump operators had to turn them on by hand, causing a delay of an hour or two, Doody said.
Getting the pumps to work is critical.
The 17th Street Canal is one of three major drainage canals the city pumps rain into and flushes out to Lake Pontchartrain. When Katrina hit, those drainage canals proved to be fatal as surge from the lake rushed into them and broke through poorly designed floodwalls. The breaches caused much of the flooding of the oldest sections of New Orleans.
To prevent that from happening again, the Army Corps installed new floodgates and pumps at the mouth of the drainage canals to block water from coming in.