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Army Corps of Engineers Moves Forward On Upgraded Storm Protection System For New Orleans

Jesse Hardman

The Army Corps of Engineers is getting closer to completing new storm protection at the 17th Street, Orleans Avenue and London Avenue canals.

The $615 million system is scheduled to be done in less than three years. Its permanent structures will reduce risk of 100-year level storm surges in New Orleans.

Lieutenant Colonel Austin Appleton is the Army Corps Deputy Commander for the New Orleans District. “What this is doing is pushing the defense of the storm surge to the edge of the city," he says. "Prior, the defense was the interior walls of the canal.”

Appleton says in advance of storm surges the gates are closed. The pump systems help manage storm water levels, pushing excess rain from the canals into Lake Pontchartrian.

He says the new project increases pumping capacity by 25 percent, enough to fill the Superdome in under 90 minutes. But, Appleton says this project is just a risk reduction system, not a solution to storm surge problems. He says citizens still need to evacuate when told to do so.

“When it comes down to it, Nature has a vote. Man over time has tried to control nature and I don’t think we ever have, and it’s debatable if we ever can.”

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Kabacoff Family Foundation and WWNO Members.

As the new Coastal Reporter, Jesse Hardman will draw on 15 years of worldwide experience in radio, video and print journalism. As a radio reporter he has reported for NPR, BBC, and CBC, and for such familiar programs as Marketplace, This American Life, Latino USA, and Living on Earth. He served as a daily news reporter and news magazine producer for WBEZ in Chicago.

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