Wednesday, August 29, 2012
“On the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which brought widespread devastation after the colossal failure of the system built to protect the city, New Orleans on Tuesday night once again found itself facing the impending arrival of a huge and deadly storm.
Isaac, which was upgraded Tuesday morning to a Category 1 hurricane from a tropical storm, churned slowly but with intensifying force toward the mouth of the Mississippi River. The storm made landfall at 7:45 p.m. Eastern time just southwest of the river, about 95 miles from New Orleans, with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour. In a conference call shortly after the system was upgraded to hurricane status, federal officials warned again and again that the storm, which killed 29 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, would generate high seas, intense rain and serious flooding in coastal and inland areas for days.
The hurricane will be the first test of the $14.5 billion, 133-mile ring of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps put in place after Hurricane Katrina by the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that built the defenses that failed this city catastrophically in 2005. On Tuesday morning, with the blare of a warning buzzer and the rumble of big motors moving tons of steel, two halves of a massive butterfly gate started moving toward each other to close off New Orleans from the anticipated 12-foot storm surge — making history.
With the closing of the new gates, this corner of Lake Borgne, which allowed waters into the city that brought down flood walls and destroyed neighborhoods seven years ago, is now cut off with a barrier nearly two miles long, and the city’s first line of defense begins 13 miles farther out than when Katrina hit. “We are ready for this,” said Tim Doody, the president of the regional levee board covering much of the New Orleans metropolitan area, which takes over the operation of the hurricane defenses once the corps has completed them.”
Posted by Kal at 9:01 AM