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New Orleans Levees Holding Up Amid Issac’s Battering

The New Orleans levees, an infrastructure that catastrophically failed and killed hundreds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, are holding, the US Army Corps of Engineers confirms.

The New Orleans levees have been under a watchful eye as Issac batters the New Orleans region, a year to the day Katrina made landfall and unleashed torrents of rain and destruction on the vulnerable city, which is in large part below sea level.

An update posted on the Army Corps site indicates that the New Orleans levees are being closely monitored and performing under the strain as expected, and reads:

“HSDRRS performing as designed. We are confident in the system … Approaching triggers to close major structures on the Westbank … Harvey Canal sector gate closing now … The non-federal levees overtopping in Plaquemines Parish are outside of the federal system … We have Corps teams co-located in Plaquemines Parish providing assistance and support.”

Flooding in Plaquemines Parish is reported to be severe, and the New York Times quotes Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish as saying that the flooding in the parish (90 odd miles from the New Orleans levees) is unprecedented:

“We haven’t seen anything like this, not even with Katrina… Those areas that didn’t flood for Katrina were flooded for this storm. If this is a Category 1 storm, I don’t want to see anything stronger.”

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Deano Bonano in Jefferson Parish said Issac’s transition from tropical storm back to hurricane caught many folks off-guard:

“Initially, the storm only being a tropical storm instead of a hurricane, many people, especially the people who live down there, didn’t have a whole lot of concern … Then it ramped up pretty quickly.”

Hurricane Issac is considered the first real test of the New Orleans levees following Katrina’s destructive aftermath in 2005.