Blanco: Netherlands Trip Could Help With Future Flood Protection

Wed January 18, 2006 - National Edition

BATON ROUGE, LA (AP) A trip to the Netherlands to study the flood control systems for the below sea-level nation showed Louisiana officials engineering marvels that could be used in future flood protection for the New Orleans area, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Jan. 13.

Blanco returned a day earlier from her visit to the country with Louisiana’s two U.S. senators, Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, and other government and business leaders in a 50-member delegation. The delegation met with Dutch leaders about the Netherlands’ unified approach to storm protection.

"It’s just new ways of thinking," the governor said.

She said she learned Louisiana needs to work more closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to shore up its hurricane protection.

Holland recently completed a 50-year program to build dams, sea walls, and surge barriers designed to protect the south of the country against almost any storm. It includes the twin rotating gates that can seal the mouth of Rotterdam’s harbor against a storm surge and the set of 62 big gates that can close off the Oosterschelde estuary in Zeeland.

Blanco said the Dutch leaders she met were amazed that questions were raised in America about how much flood protection should be given to the New Orleans area.

A second group of Gulf Coast officials, largely from southwestern Louisiana and east Texas, is planning to make a similar trip to the Netherlands in March.