New Orleans Levees
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For years now the discussions have arose about the levee systems in America and how some are not safe and need to be replaced. This problem has been focused on the levee system in New Orleans. Many engineers and other people have asked the question whether or not the present levee system in New Orleans could withstand a huge wave or a direct hit from a powerful hurricane. These questions were answered when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as a Category 3 hurricane which isn’t even the most powerful. After the hurricane hit the levee system failed and there were many breaches in the system, which lead to the flooding of most of the city. My question is what could have been done to stop this disaster from happening and what now can be done now and in the future in New Orleans and other Mississippi River floodplains to stop serious flooding from occurring. There are many people out there with good ideas and they are never even looked upon. The government needs to stop looking at the financial concerns and it needs to start looking at the burden of its citizens and they need to fix the problem.

Before and after the Hurricane people said they knew the disaster was going to eventually happen. They knew bad things were coming and nothing was done to prevent the tragedy. In the Civil Engineering Magazine, models have been made in the 1990’s and a while before that that, if a category 4 or 5 hurricane hit New Orleans there would be a catastrophic flood and the city would be devastated. The magazine says that the flood could reach heights of 25 feet. “With Hurricane Katrina, some parts of New Orleans saw up to 20 feet of water” (12a). With all this information being known a while back, why wasn’t anything being done to change and make New Orleans secure from all the risks from hurricanes? The answer to this is poor leaders and poor administrators in New Orleans and Louisiana. Plenty of hurricanes in the past have hit New Orleans. And plenty of them have flooded the city. The levees were first built in the 1800’s and since then they have been breached on several occasions. Why? Because when the levees are breached in the past all the engineers do is make then taller, they add a few feet and make then a little more thicker (C.E. Magazine). Also, this article says that if this flood was to occur the city’s power plants and water and sewage plants would probably get shut down due to the raising water, and the city pumps could even go out. Another point brought up is that if the city would flood 25 feet like the models expect, there could be 400,000 people stranded inside the levee walls. Now remember this article was published in 2003, two years before Hurricane Katrina. With all this known the city could have had a proper escape plan in place to remove all of it’s citizens before the storm was to hit.

The main question for this is: Why wasn’t anything done to prevent all of the transportation and evacuation troubles? If this was published years before the storm hit there should have been steps taken to change the policies of the state and city. But no, nothing

was done to help improve people’s chances of living. Hurricane after hurricane hit New Orleans in the past and yet all they did was rebuild and never pondered the ideas of new methods and new ways to protect the delta. The steps should have been taken after Hurricane Betsy hit in 1965. This hurricane didn’t directly hit New Orleans but it caused one billion dollars worth of damage and caused 81 people to die. “Unlike any storm before it, Betsy made it clear that the city was all too vulnerable to hurricanes” (C.E. Magazine).

A huge step New Orleans could have taken is learning from all of the mistakes they made from all of the past hurricanes. New Orleans has flooded countless times in the past and no new idea or ideas have come about, when talking about flood control. Ever time the levees fail or the city floods, the engineers add a foot more on top the levee or they make the levee a little longer. Time after time this is shown to not matter and the levee is breached one more time.

Back in the 1800’s there were severe floods in New Orleans that displaced their residents more than one. The floods occurred in 1816, 1823, and 1849. The levees back then were roughly in the same places that the levees are during Katrina. During the 1849 flood, many residents’ homes were flooded for up to 40 days (Colten 3). In the same article, Colten also says, that almost 2,000 homes and 12,000 residents were the ones displaced. “In response to this flood, like others before and after, officials raised the levee height and thereby encouraged additional urbanization on the floodplain” (Colten 3). So obviously over the years New Orleans has not learned and the tradegy will just keep happening.

It has happened countless times and still I can’t stress

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New Orleans And Powerful Hurricane. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from