Sunday, May 10, 2009

Corps of Engineers prepares to fortify New Orleans pump stations Several dozen pump stations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes will be bulked up to better withstand major storms after $340 million worth of "stormproofing" that also adds redundant power sources. The goal is to prevent a repeat of Hurricane Katrina, when Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard evacuated pumping stations to protect workers, a decision that outraged many residents whose homes flooded.

After Katrina, Jefferson Parish began stormproofing by building stand-alone safe houses adjacent to certain pump stations. Then the Army Corps of Engineers jumped in, adding generators at the Sewerage & Water Board's largest station in the city and building more safe houses in Jefferson.

Now the corps has laid out the rest of its far-reaching plan, developed in concert with local water managers, to fortify and install more equipment at as many as 37 stations in the two parishes, as well as at S&WB electrical facilities. The details are proposed in a pair of environmental documents posted on a corps Web site for public review and response. If approved as proposed later this summer, most of the work would be finished by late 2011, though a few projects could last into 2013, an official said.

Congress appropriated stormproofing money for Orleans and Jefferson after Katrina, but it gave nothing for similar work in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. And it's an exclusion that worries officials responsible for helping to foster regionwide protection.

…The corps estimates that $204 million will be spent in Orleans and $136 million in Jefferson, but officials don't know whether that will cover everything proposed….

One of the pumping stations along Broad Street, this one at the intersection of the old Carondelet Canal. Neighborhood youths ride bicycles down Broad. Notice they have dust masks, as the area is still filled with debris, dust, and mold from Hurricane Katrina related flooding. Photo by Infrogmation (who's taken many photos of his home, New Orleans), early November 2005. Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

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