Newest Anti-Flood Technology in New Orleans

The city of New Orleans is situated right in between the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans is barely above sea level at its highest point, and below sea level at its lowest. This, along with a number of nearby shipping canals leaves New Orleans especially vulnerable to hurricanes, as the water that overflows the nearby bodies of water has nowhere to go.

In 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began building a barrier capable of shielding New Orleans against swells up to 16 feet, along with a pumping station designed to send floodwaters back out to sea.

The project is expected to cost about $500 million, and is just the latest component of the $14 billion plan to protect the 240,000 residents of New Orleans from storms like Katrina

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is an industrial waterway stretching over 1,000 miles from Florida to Texas and facilitates the transportation of millions of tons of cargo every year. It also offers an ideal path from the Gulf for storm surges to flood homes and businesses.

When a hurricane approaches, the West Closure Complex will defend the town in two ways. First, metal 32 foot high, 225 foot wide metal gates will close, blocking the storm surges. Second, the largest pumping station in the world will begin pulling 150,000 gallons of floodwater every second and sending it back out to sea.

Unlike the levees that failed miserably when Katrina struck in 2005, this structure is designed to stand up to just about anything, including 140 mph winds and even runaway barges, according to project manager Tim Connell.

The project came together smoothly, and the Corps met its goal of having the project complete and online in 2011.

The largest concern after loss of life with flooding is the incredibly high potential cost of water damage reconstruction.  After Hurricane Andrews, damages were estimated at twenty one billion, and after Hurricane Katrina, over sixty billion, a large portion of which was flood / water damage.

More about flood and water damage at