Flood wall shift raises concerns in St. Bernard

Concerns raised following inspection of St. Bernard floodwalls

ST. BERNARD PARISH, LA (WVUE) - When the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District conducted its quarterly inspection of flood walls in St. Bernard, they found something of concern.

"They discovered a section of the wall where there seems to be a rotation of some of the structures of the wall segments that seems to be moving slightly," said Stephen Estopinal with the SELA Flood Protection Authority.

Concrete panels in the T-wall and levee near Verret along Highway 46 are leaning outward. The wall is designed to protect the parish from hurricane storm surges.

"The protection has not been compromised at all. It has the same level of protection as it always did, but because there is some movement, it's just like you're driving down a highway and you see a flashing light up ahead. A good driver will slow down and pay attention to what's going on. Well, this is kind of like a little flashing light," Estopinal said.

During the last inspection, the Levee District found the wall panels were pushed out by 1 3/8 inches.

"It's something that they're going to watch and what they tell me is that something like this would take several years before it would become a major problem for St. Bernard Parish," said Parish President Guy McInnis.

The next step is to find out why the panel separated, and the Army Corps is working to determine what exactly caused it to happen.

"It could be soil conditions. It could be changes in the structural design particularly in the foundation. It could be any number of things. It may be something lacking in the construction," Estopinal said.

McInnis believes for now the structure is safe and is not in danger of failing.

"So believe me, the Corps is on top of this and they have assured me that this is a very minor settling of the wall that's going to happen over time, and that we won't have any particular problems with this for many years from now," he said.

The Lake Borgne Basin Levee District will inspect the flood wall again in about six weeks.

In the meantime, the Army Corps is aware of it and looking into the issue.

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