Downgraded hurricane still poses threat
August 30, 2012
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 30, 2012) -- Hurricane Isaac has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers release, it continues to pose a significant storm surge and inland flood threat across the northern Gulf Coast.
In addition, inland flooding is also expected to spread across Arkansas and Missouri in the next two to three days.
All major structures of the Greater New Orleans District Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System are closed. The system was authorized and funded following hurricanes Katrina and Rita and includes levees, flood walls, floodgates, surge barriers and pump stations.
The Corps strengthened and improved almost all of the levees, floodwalls, pump stations and surge barriers that form the 133-mile greater New Orleans perimeter.
"The interim control structures along the lakefront have significantly reduced the risk of flooding from hurricanes," said Col. Edward R. Fleming, USACE New Orleans District commander. "The Corps continually rehearses the operation of the structures, and we are confident that they will continue to perform as designed, just as they did during hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008."
The levees overtopping in Plaquemines Parish are outside the federal system, but Corps teams are providing assistance and support.
"USACE is working closely with state and parish leadership. There are plans to assist Plaquemines Parish with un-watering the flooded area," USACE officials said.
The Corps is currently working on a project for the Plaquemine Levees that will reduce future risk to the area by replacing or modifying 32 miles of current levees between Oakville and St. Jude on the west bank of the Mississippi River and constructing two miles of earthen levees from the ground level. The repairs and construction are scheduled for completion in 2017.
The USACE is supporting state operation centers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's region IV and VI regional response coordination centers to aid in organizing efforts.
In support of FEMA mission requirements, USACE has deployed emergency power teams to Mississippi and Louisiana. Commodities, debris, and temporary roofing teams have deployed to Louisiana. Additional response teams, such as commodities, debris, temporary roofing, temporary housing, and un-watering have been placed on alert status to support Mississippi and Louisiana.
USACE is part of the federal government's unified national response to disasters and emergencies. USACE is the designated lead for Emergency Support Function #3, public works and engineering-related support. The Corps conducts its emergency response activities under two basic authorities, the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act, and when assigned missions by FEMA, under the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act.
Under the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act, the Corps provides disaster preparedness services and advanced planning measures designed to reduce the amount of damage caused by an impending disaster.
Under the Stafford Act, the Corps supports the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA in carrying out the National Response Plan, which calls on 30 federal departments and agencies to provide coordinated disaster relief and recovery operations.