Levee board grappling with armoring dilemma _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The Army Corps Engineers has agreed to place armoring Ð synthetic mats that reinforce the grass Ñ on the landside of the new levees it built around metro New Orleans. That move, long sought by the state, would raise the levee resistance to collapse because of overtopping from the 100-year-storm level to the 500-year storm. The corps says it expects to spend about $300 million on the project. The corps is testing the mats along the protecttion levee in St. Charles parish. Caitlin.E.Campbell and Andrew Moore of the corps stand on the levee.

How soon do you want to feel safe from a 500-year storm?

That’s the $300 million question a local flood protection authority is now struggling with.

The Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to place armoring — synthetic mats that reinforce the grass — on the land side of the new levees it has built around metropolitan New Orleans. That move, long sought by the state, would improve — from the 100-year-storm level to the 500-year-storm level — the levees’ resistance to collapsing if they are overtopped by storm surge. The Corps says it expects to spend about $300 million on the project.

But the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East is still evaluating a report that suggests the new levees are lower than they should be even for a 100-year storm, defined as a hurricane that has a 1 in 100 chance of occurring in any given year.

This story originally appeared in The Lens, an independent, nonprofit newsroom serving New Orleans. Continue reading full story here.