In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, leaving its signature of destruction form Louisiana all the way to Florida. The hardest hit area and the greatest catastrophe was in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. For many years the people of New Orleans had feared that one day a hurricane would drown their city with its storm surge. Katrina brought that nightmare storm surge and flooded the city. Yet the New Orleans levees system and flood control was the major cause of flooding, due to the inadequate repair and maintenance failure, incompletion of the levee system, and engineering designs based on outdated scientific data.
New Orleans on average lies 6 feet below sea level. It’s bordered by the Mississippi
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In 1816 a major flood broke through the levees, leaving parts of the city underwater for months. A similar flood washed overt he city in 1823, followed by and even greater event in 1849 (Colten, 2006). Like others before and after, officials raised the levee height and encouraged additional urbanization on the floodplain. In 1879 the Mississippi River Commission and the United States Army Corps of Engineers assumed primary levee building and despite major levee failures during an unprecedented flood in 1927, New Orleans remained untouched (Colten, 2006). From 1915 to 1964, New Orleans was pummeled with several major hurricanes and in 1965 Hurricane Betsy gave a preview of Katrina. Water broke through the levees along the Industrial Canal and produced severe flooding in neighborhoods flanking the canal, the Lower 9thWard, and the Bywater district. Rising water forced many to climb into dark attics, tear holes in their roofs, and sit in the hot sun the next day awaiting rescue (Colten, 2006). Politicians called for massive levy improvements for the city; governor at that time John Mckithen pledged that he would “see that nothing like this happen in our state again” and asked Congress to take steps that would “make a repeat of this disaster impossible” (Colten, 2006).
Congress first authorized the Lake Ponchartrain and Vicinity, Louisiana Hurricane Protection Project in the Flood Control Act of 1965. The project was to construct a