According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 220 miles of levees and floodwalls have been repaired and restored to pre-Katrina levels of protection, but some critics wonder whether this is enough to protect the city.
A Department of Defense study concluded that the 2005 flood was a manmade disaster, caused by the failure of the levee system built and maintained by the Army Corps. The federal government has since spent $15 billion on rebuilding a flood protection system rated to withstand the worst storm likely to occur once every 100 years.
The Corps is now building a massive flood wall that is 26 feet high and two miles long east of New Orleans, closing a gap in the system that funneled a huge storm surge inland during Katrina. New flood walls and flood gates have been built along canals in New Orleans, where breaks flooded 80 percent of the city.
But Bob Bea, one of the country’s most prominent civil engineers, says the levee system is still a “patchwork quilt” vulnerable to a severe storm. Bea and others have called on the federal government to build levees that could withstand a once-in-500-year storm.