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Governor looks ahead while marking Katrina’s 15th anniversary

Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 3:16 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - On Wednesday. Governor Edwards signed two executive orders designed to make Louisiana more resilient In the face of future storms, as he marked the upcoming 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The Corps of Engineers says it is now wrapping up nearly $14.6 billion in levee improvements and should achieve a major milestone next year.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which was created after Katrina to help solve flood control issues, marks the 15 year anniversary and looks ahead.

“There are two systems out there right now that we’re watching so say your prayers,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the heads of levee authorities across the state met to talk about where they’ve been since Katrina and where they’re going.

“$14.6 billion, that money was there and we can do amazing things with those dollars,” said Mark Wingate, with the Army Corps of Engineers.

That money helped pay for a $1.3 billion surge barrier protecting New Orleans East. It also paid for a $1 billion west closure project in Harvey, that’s one of the largest floodgates in the world. The funding also raised and improved a 130-mile Levee system around metro New Orleans. And so far, so good.

“No storm flooding occurred from Ike in 08, Lee, for Isaac in 12, Barry in 2019 through Cristobal,‘” Wingate said.

But some of the levees are already subsiding and repair work must be done before the corps turn all levees over to local authorities, perhaps next year.

While levee officials hail the massive amount of work done since Katrina, the governor says efforts to protect the Louisiana coast are moving forward in several areas.

“That is a real turning point. With the projects on the board today that we believe we can start, over the next four years when they are complete we will gain more land then we lose in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said.

Edwards also signed two executive orders designed to make Louisiana more resilient in the face of future storms while cutting down greenhouse gases which many say contributes to sea-level rise.

“We believe that we can be even more successful in confronting the difficulties in store in the future,” Edwards said.

Levee leaders say with the current, mostly unified approach, flood control and the local partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers has come along way since Katrina.

After years of rancor, they applauded Corps leader Mark Wingate.

And as we head into the heart of hurricane season many says that level of cooperation could be more important than ever.

Terrebonne Parish has achieved nearly $500 million in flood improvements without federal assistance.

They say that system worked effectively during last year’s hurricane Barry.

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