Location of Orleans Parish in Louisiana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Isaac sidestepped New Orleans on Wednesday, sending the worst of its howling wind and heavy rain into a cluster of rural fishing villages that had few defenses against the slow-moving storm that could bring days of unending rain.
Isaac arrived exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina and passed slightly to the west of New Orleans, where the city’s fortified levee system easily handled the assault.
The city’s biggest problems seemed to be downed power lines, scattered tree limbs and minor flooding. Just one person was reported killed, compared with 1,800 deaths from Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi. And police reported few problems with looting. Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew just to be sure.
But in Plaquemines Parish, a sparsely populated area south of the city that is outside the federal levee system, dozens of people were stranded in flooded coastal areas. The storm pushed water over an 18-mile levee and put so much pressure on it that authorities were considering intentionally puncturing the floodwall to relieve the strain.
English: Landsat 7 image of New Orleans sitting between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. The city appears a pinkish shade in the April 26, 2000 image. The image uses the ETM+ bands 7, 4, and 2. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NEW ORLEANS — Finally, there is a wall around this city.
Nearly seven years after flood waters from Hurricane Katrina gushed over New Orleans, $14.5 billion worth of civil works designed to block such surges is now in place — a 133-mile chain of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps too vast to take in at once, except perhaps from space.
Individual components of the system can be appreciated from a less celestial elevation. At the new Seabrook floodgate complex, climb up three steep ladders, open a trap door, and step out into the blazing sunlight atop a 54-foot tower that was not here just two years ago. From there one looks out over a $165 million barrier across the shipping canal that links Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Fortunately, since Hurricane Agnes, most the area is protected by a dike system that keeps water out of a significant portion of the flood plain. The dike is good up to 41 feet for most of the Wyoming Valley. However, a number of low-lying areas are already being evacuated. The flood gates on the Market Street bridge are being installed tonight.