Federal government begins employing strategies to repair New Orleans

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Saturday, September 3, 2005

When Hurricane Katrina flooded most of New Orleans in up to thirty feet of water, an engineering nightmare was created. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seems to have found a solution.

Levee break in New Orleans.

The problem was caused by three breaches in a levee system not designed to withstand a powerful Category 4 hurricane. These breaks allowed water to flow into New Orleans from massive Lake Pontchartrain.

It will take between 36 and 80 days according to Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, but engineers believe they've found a way to get water out of the city.

The first step was to stop the rising level of water, which the Corps and a team of private contractors accomplished yesterday.

Currently, the 17th Street Canal is being closed using a combination of steel sheets, 300-lb. and 3,000-lb. sandbags, and the construction of a rock dyke. The London Avenue breach will be closed off as well while the break at the Inner Harbor Lock will be left open to allow drainage.

In St. Bernard Parish, one of the hardest-hit areas of the city, a levee is being opened to allow water to drain out.

Once the water finally drains out of New Orleans, some areas will still be up to seven feet deep due to the city's location under sea level. This will have to be pumped out, possible only when electricity returns.