A celebration was recently held to commemorate the completion of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System, an expansive levee system consisting of gates and flood-walls that will defend the Greater New Orleans Area against severe storms, according to this feature by Nola.com.
Known colloquially as “the Great Wall of Louisiana,” the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS)’s completion was celebrated by Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and various other state, local, and federal officials. The completion of the Greater New Orleans Hurricane System came just under two decades after Hurricane Katrinaprompted Congress to provide $14.5 billion to begin constructing a system that would provide the Greater New Orleans area with a protective system to help fend off future storm surges. That initial $14.5 investment allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to apply the latest data science and engineering practices in the design and construction processes.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards spoke of the project and the massive achievements of those involved in its completion by saying, “the HSDRRS is the largest civil works project in the Corps’ history and is the result of nearly two decades of hard work and collaboration at the local, state, and federal level. The people of New Orleans have experienced the worst Mother Nature has to offer, and with the completion of the system, they’ll be protected by the best of engineering, design, and hurricane protection.”
Now that the construction is completed, the federal government has formally turned over the completed system to Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for purposes of operation and maintenance. Chip Kline, the chairman of Louisiana’s CPRA, called the system “one of the greatest engineering feats in the history of the world.” Kline went on to say, “this is a monumental day for Louisiana. In the past year, the state’s coastal program has made historic investments in restoration and hurricane protection across South Louisiana, and the turnover of the HSDRRSis yet another critical step in this effort. With its completion, nearly a million people and over $170 billion in assets are better protected.”
Because two New Orleans-area flood protection authorities will be taking over the maintenance and operations of the system upon its completion, both the East and West Louisiana Flood Protection Authority will fund the upkeep and operation of the levee system. This amounts to about $7.8 million for the west bank and $25 million for the east bank.
While forecasters are already predicting a particularly active hurricane season for the Gulf Coast, Louisiana State Officials are already determined to make it clear to residents that this levee system project will not eliminate all risk factors and that people should still make evacuation plans ahead of time. The Governor’s office reminded citizens that as the state and Greater New Orleans region enter into the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the HSDRRS should never be considered to be a “life safety system.”
Commander of the USACE New Orleans District Col. Stephen Murphy spoke of his confidence in the project’s final form by saying, “we know that eventually, we will face a surge greater than the 1-percent elevations so we designed the HSDRRS to be overtopped. With all of the armoring now in place, this system enters the 2022 Hurricane Seasonstronger than it has ever been.”
Due to the detrimental active Hurricane season of the past two years, not only is the completion of this “Great Wall of Louisiana” greatly appreciated, but it should be noted that it is only one component of an individual or the state’s overall hurricane preparedness plan. For the state of Louisiana, that means the local, state, and federal emergency response plans, which are coordinated and rehearsed throughout the year, are also an integral part of preparing for the storms to come.
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