[StBernard] news from Corps

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Jun 20 23:14:19 EDT 2007


Mark Schleifstein

and Sheila Grissett

Staff writers

In the most comprehensive analysis of flooding risk to date, the Army Corps
of Engineers released maps Wednesday that show where flooding can be
expected to occur -- and to what depths -- in different sections of the New
Orleans area during future hurricanes.

The data -- only part of a bigger "risk analysis" package that the Corps of
Engineers have been promising for months -- is a first-of-its-kind
assessment of the entire 350-mile hurricane protection system in southeast
Louisiana, complete with projections of loss of life and property that could
be expected to occur as a result of flooding.

The information, being crunched by supercomputers and developed by a
corps-led task force of scientists and engineers from throughout the United
States, can inform a variety of actions, from helping individuals decide
where they want to live -- or not live -- to aiding the corps in designing a
safer hurricane protection system.

"People are going to understand their risk, their personal risk," said Lt.
Gen. Robert Van Antwerp, new chief of the corps. "As these flood maps come
out, one of things we talk about is communicating transparently. You have
right to know what we know. And the other important part of that is truth
well told. How do we translate this so everyone understands?"

Corps officials say the risk analysis will be available at
http://nolarisk.usace.army.mil/, but the website did not appear to be
working as of early this afternoon.

The final analysis will provide the risk of flooding under various storm
scenarios in 37 separate sub-basins in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St.
Charles and Plaquemines parishes, and all but a half-dozen were released
today. The corps did not release maps for areas protected by West Bank
levees, including areas in Jefferson and St. Charles parishes, because they
were not yet complete.

But the study won't declare any area unfit for human resettlement, officials
have said. It will be up to the locals to decide what is a tolerable level
of risk.

"It's going to be the local people, the local leaders to determine what's
going to be there, the schools, shopping centers, and all of that. We're
providing information for local people to use themselves," Van Antwerp
said.The corps today released maps for 31 sub-basins. The remaining six, all
on the west bank of the Mississippi River, are in various stages of review
and will be released to the public when finished.

The corps also is providing the public with a variety of Web tools, but
officials said they are prototypes that will be improved over the next few
months as more information is added.

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