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SmashMouth 04-28-2019 09:23 AM

Future of New Orleans in peril as $14B flood protection starts sinking
The $14 billion upgrade to New Orleans’ system of levees to fortify the city is sinking, according to engineering experts.

After investing an amount of money that is five times greater than the gross domestic product of the island country of Aruba, the Army Corp of Engineers said levees may not be adequate enough to protect New Orleans and the surrounding region from major flooding associated with a 100-year storm.

According to the Corp, a combination of subsidence, sea level rise and weak soil is the cause behind the sinking levees. It’s now pursuing a $3 million-study with funds appropriated by Congress to figure out the severity of the problem and what it would take to lift the levees. It’s expected to be completed in 2021.

“We’ve always known that we would have to lift levees,” explained Rickey Boyett, a spokesperson for the Army Corp of Engineers. “What we have to do is determine whether lifting the levees is environmentally feasible; if they are technically possible, but probably most importantly, if it’s economically justified for the federal government to spend taxpayer dollars to lift these levees.”

It’s unclear what the costs would be if a project of that magnitude was undertaken, however, coastal experts believe it could climb into the hundreds of millions of dollars, with the federal government covering 65 percent of the cost and state and local covering the remaining 35 percent.

The current levee system, which was completed last May, was built after Hurricane Katrina toppled the crescent city in 2005. The storm’s power forced a surge of water over the top of levees that inundated many parts of the city with several feet of water.

New Orleans native, Greg Joubert recalled the chaos in the area as he sat in a newly constructed park in the fairly new Lakeview neighborhood he grew up in, which had been bombarded with several feet of water.

“The water levels were so high here,” he said. “It was sink or swim.”

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