Levees bolstered in 17 years since Katrina, officials pushing for even more protection

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:46 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Monday (Aug. 29) marked 17 years since Hurricane Katrina breached the levee system in 53 places and the president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority East says “never again.” The city’s flood protection system has changed dramatically and officials are now seeking an even higher level of protection.

For New Orleans East resident Daniel Perkins, the memory of the Katrina anniversary never fades.

“The water was up to the ceiling, the whole house was full of water the studs the roof everything,” said Perkins.

After evacuating to Jackson, Atlanta, and Mobile, it took Perkins four years to get back to New Orleans.

“The road home helped tremendously but I had to make a loan,” said Perkins.

Perkins says he rebuilt in a city far better protected than it was before, and levee officials agree.

“Somebody got embarrassed, because they way overbuilt this thing -- $14.8 billion, 139 miles of levees, 200 gates, eight big controls structures,” said Randy Noel, president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority.

After all that federal money, Southeast Louisiana flood control officials say the system is finally complete.

“We are caught up right now. We just finished our last lift and the next lift won’t be needed for several years now,” said Kelli Chandler, director of the SE La. Flood Authority.

After years of debate, contractors for the Army Corps of Engineers shifted their focus west, to a $760 million project to build a 19-mile levee system that will protect portions of St. John Parish from Garyville to LaPlace, where crews face a watery challenge.

“They’re beginning to build sand bases but this levees going to be - in some areas in open waters, and it will be a little bit different design,” said Jaclyn Hotard, St. John Parish President.

The West Shore Levee project is expected to take two more years. In the meantime, officials look to expand the current levee protection guard against a 100-year storm or worse.

“We are talking about trying to get enough money to make it 200-year flood protection,” said Noel.


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Perkins says he’s glad he moved back to the city which he believes is better protected than ever.

“It is proven since they put them up that they work, we’ve had some challenges with some storms that came through but they held up good,” said Perkins.

And the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority East says they are committed to making sure that continues.

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