Government Technology

Better Levees Cannot Fully Eliminate Risk of New Orleans Flooding Again

Katrina Cars
Katrina Cars

April 24, 2009 By

Photo: New Orleans, La., Aug. 30, 2005 - Cars parked on the New Orleans streets are flooded to the top of the wheel wells. (Marty Bahamonde/FEMA)

The National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council have come out with their final report which says voluntary relocation of people and neighborhoods from areas that are vulnerable to flooding should be considered "a viable public policy option."

The long and short of it is that that no matter how large or sturdy new levees and floodwalls surrounding New Orleans are constructed, they cannot provide absolute protection against overtopping or failure in extreme events.

According to a news statement released today, the report is the fifth and final one to provide recommendations to the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET), formed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to examine why New Orleans' hurricane-protection system failed during Hurricane Katrina and how it can be strengthened.

The conclusions of the committee preparing the report was that levees and floodwalls should only be viewed as a way to reduce risks from hurricanes and storm surges, not as measures that could completely eliminate risk.

The report adds that, as with any structure built to protect against flooding, the New Orleans the hurricane-protection system - a 350-mile structure network - promoted a false sense of security that areas behind the structures were absolutely safe for habitation and development.

Comprehensive flood planning and risk management should be based on a combination of structural and nonstructural measures, including the option of voluntary relocations, floodproofing and elevation of structures, and evacuation, the committee urged. Rebuilding the New Orleans area and its hurricane-protection system to its pre-Katrina state would leave the city and its inhabitants vulnerable to similar disasters. Instead, settlement in areas most vulnerable to flooding should be discouraged, and some consideration should be given to new designs of the New Orleans metro hurricane-protection system.

For structures in hazardous areas and residents who do not relocate, the committee recommended major floodproofing measures -- such as elevating the first floor of buildings to at least the 100-year flood level and strengthening electric power, water, gas, and telecommunication infrastructure.

For more information, see


| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Meeting Constituents Where They Are With Dynamic, Real-Time Mobile Engagement
Leveraging the proven and open Kofax Mobile Capture Platform, organizations can rapidly integrate powerful mobile engagement solutions across the spectrum of mobile image capture, mobile data capture and complete mobile process integration. Kofax differentiates itself by extending capture to mobility, supporting multiple points of constituent engagement. Kofax solutions dynamically orchestrate the user’s mobile experience from a single platform—reducing time to market, improving process perf
Public Safety 2019
Motorola conducted an industry survey on the latest trends in public safety communications. The results provide an outlook of what technology is in store for your agency in the next five years. Download the results to gain this valuable insight.
Improving Emergency Response with Digital Communications
Saginaw County, Mich., increases interoperability, communication and collaboration with a digital voice and data network, as well as modern computer-aided dispatch.
View All

Featured Papers