Estopinal: SLFPA-E Prepared And Ready For 2015 Hurricane Season

NEW ORLEANS –  The President of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East (SLFPA-E) Board of Commissioners Stephen Estopinal joined other regional leaders to mark the start of the 2015 Hurricane Season at the Port of New Orleans on Monday, June 1, 2015.

         In remarks, Estopinal discussed the preparedness for the 2015 hurricane season. "Even though we have the finest flood protection system the region has ever had, residents still need to have an evacuation and flood plan," said Estopinal.

         SLFPA-E sets policy and provides oversight to levee operations in East Jefferson, St. Bernard Parish, and all of the east bank of New Orleans.

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         SLFPA-E reps say the region's flood protection system is one of the strongest and largest of its kind in the United States. It significantly diminishes the risk of flooding due to hurricanes in Orleans, St. Bernard and East Jefferson Parishes. However, as the 2015 hurricane season approaches, SLFPA-E officials urge residents to create a plan of action in the event of a storm, despite the federal government's multi-billion dollar expansion and fortification of levees, floodwalls, gates, pump stations and storm surge barriers surrounding the region.

         Most of the new, more extensive and resilient protection system in the greater New Orleans area that abates flooding due to storm surge and prevents future cataclysmic levee or floodwall failure has been completed. Notable construction yet to be completed are the permanent pump stations at the three outfall canals in Orleans Parish and armoring of the system for resiliency.

         Since its inception in 2007, SLFPA-E has worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, providing input on design and construction of the structures and features of the system. Once construction of the new features is completed, their maintenance and operations is the responsibility of SLFPA-E.

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         "We actively engaged in training in anticipation of the ultimate turnover to SLFPA-E of the operation and maintenance of the flood and levee protection structures," said Estopinal.

         The largest of the floodwall structures is the 1.8 mile Surge Barrier, designed to keep the surge from the Gulf of Mexico away from the floodwalls inside of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) and the Gulf Intracoastal Water Way (GIWW) and ultimately away from downtown New Orleans.

         "Preparation for hurricane season always begins the day after the previous season ends," said Robert Turner, regional director of SLFPA-E. "As the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season approaches, the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) is stronger than at any time in the city's history, and because of this, the risk of flooding from storm surges has been greatly reduced."

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         Nearly 133 miles of levees, floodwalls, gated structures and pump stations have been strengthened and improved forming the new Greater New Orleans perimeter system.

         "The new system performed superbly and largely as designed when tested by Hurricane Isaac in August of 2012," said Nick Cali, executive director of the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District. "However, there will always be a residual risk of flooding, especially from storms that exceed the capacity of the system. If a tropical storm threatens our area, people should listen to local officials and heed all evacuation orders that are issued."

         Nearly $15 billion has been committed to improve regional flood systems, but SLFPA-E officials say more is needed, citing that a 100-year-level of hurricane and flood protection system is the bare minimum required to purchase federal flood insurance. Many local decision makers and emergency operations directors believe that south Louisiana needs a minimum 500-year-level of protection; achieving this higher level of protection is the primary goal of SLFPA-E.

 

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS

 

         SLFPA-E's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has fortified its communications capabilities. During a future hurricane event, representatives of the Orleans Levee District, Corps, CPRA and Coast Guard will be embedded at SLFPA-E's EOC.

         SLFPA-E's Boater Notification Alert Service notifies mariners prior to floodgate closings in the following areas: Bayou Bienvenue, Bayou Dupre, Caernarvon, Lake Borgne, and Seabrook Complex.

         SLFPA-E and other agencies will monitor levee and marine gate openings and closings in real time, and the Levee Information Management System (LIMS) is now capable of tracking more than 200 closures simultaneously.

 

JURISDICTION

 

         The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC) Surge Barrier, a 1.8 mile long, 25 feet high concrete and steel structure is one of the largest design-build construction projects in civil works history. This Surge Barrier protects the metro region and provides flood risk reduction for decades. Completing the system is a series of navigation gates, three of them built into the Surge Barrier and a fourth at Seabrook. All navigation gates, at the Surge Barrier and Seabrook, as well as the floodgates at the Outfall Canals, are fully operational.

         17th Street, Orleans and London Avenue Outfall Canals continue to be protected from storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain by interim control structures built in the months after Katrina. Construction of permanent pump stations is ongoing. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), SLFPA-E, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish government are monitoring the design and construction process to ensure that the most sustainable solutions are implemented.

 

FACTS

 

         Lake Borgne Basin Levee District operates and maintains 33 floodgates, two marine flood control structures, one freshwater diversion structure, 35 miles of federal levees and floodwalls and 22 non-federal miles of levees; 56 miles of canals and 8 pump stations.

         Orleans Levee District operates and maintains about 86 miles of federal levees and floodwalls, 200 floodgates, 103 drainage valves, six marine flood control structures, 19 miles of non-federal levees and floodwalls and 5.5 miles of Lakefront Seawall steps.

         East Jefferson Levee District operates and maintains approximately 29 miles of federal levees and floodwalls (eleven miles of levee runs along the Mississippi River), 14 floodgates, and four breakwaters.

         Following Hurricane Katrina, local levee district boards were consolidated when the Legislature created a pair of regional levee organizations, which provide professional, regional management for levee districts on the east and west side of the Mississippi River in coordination with the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. The regional organizations supervise the Corps' levee and floodwall system design and construction decisions. SLFPA-E, a political subdivision of the state, provides professional and regional management of the East Jefferson, Orleans and Lake Borgne Basin Levee Districts.

 

 

 

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