Hey Jefferson Parish, you're in this too!
Photo: Rusty Costanza/Times-Picayune.
New Orleans needs the political support of Jefferson Parish residents to:
1) To help rebuild homes;
2) To build Category 5 storm protection;
3) To restore southern Louisiana's lost coast and degraded wetlands.
I was talking to someone a couple of days ago about how the Harvey Canal on the West Bank of the Mississippi was less than a foot from overtopping during Hurricane Rita.
If Katrina had passed New Orleans west of the city, the chances are pretty good that Metairie and the West Bank would have flooded.
Now, The Times-Picayune has a story reporting that the independent team of engineers examining levee failures concluded that the Metairie side of the 17th Street Canal was already failing when the New Orleans side broke, thus relieving the pressure on the Metairie floodwall:
"The west wall was at the point of incipient failure, meaning if the water had stayed at that elevation just a little longer, or had the water risen higher, we would have seen a release of floodwater to the Jefferson Parish side," team member Bob Bea, a geotechnical engineer from Berkeley, said this week.
Obviously, this is not just New Orleans' problem. The next time, it could be Jefferson Parish that floods.
Short-term, Bea argues for new pumps to be installed where the new floodgates are being installed:
"You need one new pump station at the mouth of each canal and underground culverts," he said. "And until then, I pray that we don't get hit with something that overwhelms the pumps and gates and causes another breach."
In that scenario, Bea said the only breath of good news is that if a rupture occurred while the gates were closed, flooding would affect a much smaller area because only canal water would spill into the adjacent neighborhood. The breach wouldn't act as a pipeline from Lake Pontchartrain, as happened during Katrina.
Scientists estimate that the hurricane-wrecked system allowed some 58 billion gallons of water -- about 3 percent of the lake's volume -- to flood much of New Orleans and a small area of East Jefferson.