Nearly seven years after flood waters from Hurricane Katrina gushed over New Orleans, $14.5 billion worth of civil works designed to block such surges is now in place — a 133-mile chain of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps too vast to take in at once, except perhaps from space.
Individual components of the system can be appreciated from a less celestial elevation. At the new Seabrook floodgate complex, climb up three steep ladders, open a trap door, and step out into the blazing sunlight atop a 54-foot tower that was not here just two years ago. From there one looks out over a $165 million barrier across the shipping canal that links Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
Two “lift gates,” 50 feet across, can be lowered to block the waters of Lake Pontchartrain. A navigation gate 95 feet wide, whose curved sides weigh 220 tons apiece, can be swung gently but mightily into place. When open — which will be most of the time — the gates will allow easy boat traffic.
From the NY Times, Vast Defenses Now Shielding New Orleans.