Army Corps of Engineers Fixes Levees, Drains New Orleans
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2005 The Army Corps of Engineers continues working with New Orleans' authorities to repair levees damaged by Hurricane Katrina and to pump out remaining floodwater in the city, the corps' senior official said today.
The Army's military and civilian engineers are in New Orleans as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to the disaster, said Army Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commanding general of the Corps of Engineers, told reporters at the Pentagon.
Besides fixing damaged levees and ensuring that the Mississippi River is navigable, the engineers also are providing emergency electric power, as well as providing ice and drinking water, Strock said.
About 80 percent of New Orleans was inundated by floodwater at the height of the disaster. Strock said the Corps is "having very good success" in achieving its drainage mission, with only about 40 percent of the city remaining waterlogged. Officials have estimated that most of New Orleans would be unwatered by early October.
Strock said, "no water is currently flowing into New Orleans from any breach sites" in the city's levee system.
The general said he couldn't offer an estimate as to when the levees could be redesigned and rebuilt to better withstand a Category 4 hurricane, like Katrina, or an even more fearsome Category 5. However, he allowed that such a feat was technically feasible.
A supplemental account has provided the corps with $200 million to spend in New Orleans for flood-control work, emergency response and rebuilding damaged levees, Strock said. Another $200 million in supplemental funds has been allocated for operations and maintenance costs for the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway, he said.
About $440 million so far has been spent in response to Katrina's impact on New Orleans, Strock said, noting that about $270 million of that was spent on procuring ice and water.
Strock said the corps would also award hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for debris removal in the wake of Katrina. That task "will be the largest cost in terms of the Corps of Engineers mission to recover from this disaster," the general said.