NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In an abundance of caution, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority began closing two monster flood gates, protecting much of the city of New Orleans today.
Weather forecasters predict Tropical Storm Harvey will strengthen and strike somewhere on the Texas coast.
If you need to get a barge into, or out of the Intracoastal Waterway, for the next couple of days, you may have a problem.
"Right now we're closing the GIWW sector gate east," said Chris Norfleet, with the Orleans Levee District.
Workers with the Orleans Levee District began closing the massive 150-foot wide sector gate this morning, to protect against any storm surge that tropical weather in the Gulf might bring, even though at this point, there's no surge in the forecast. It's part of the billion dollar, mile long, Great wall, that protects much of St. Bernard and New Orleans eastern side.
"Everything's working pretty good, we don't expect any problems or issues," said Norfleet.
The great wall is the largest project of some $14 billion worth of work performed by the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans, since Katrina. Much of that work continues, but the wall has now been turned over to the Orleans Levee District.
"It's just an awesome piece of engineering to be a part of," said Norfleet.
The Orleans Levee District was out checking levees this afternoon, especially areas where new armoring is being put in place to protect against erosion.
"On the east bank, the corps is doing five re-armoring projects, three in E.J., and two in the east," said Derek Boese, with the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority-East.
The sector gate is now closed. This is where the two sections come together. And now that it's closed, they are focusing attention on the much larger barge gate.
Divers go down, to make sure there are no obstructions, as water is removed from the barge gate so that it can be floated into place. A million pounds of concrete was used to build that gate, and closing it, takes around six hours, which effectively seals off the waterway from commercial traffic.
"We notify any marine traffic and give them a heads up," said Norfleet.
For now, the gates are closed for what will hopefully be just a drill.
The Corps of Engineers is also lifting miles of levees in East Jefferson due to subsidence. It also continues work on the massive new, permanent pumps on the Orleans, London, and 17th Street Canal. They hope those will be up and running by next hurricane season.