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September 11th, 2008

Going Above and Beyond

As we speak, Hurricane Gustav recovery operations are in full swing and Hurricane Ike is bearing down on the Texas Coast…
 
The constructed portions of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction System in New Orleans performed admirably- just as they were designed to do.  We have completed 120 of 350 contracts needed to bring the system to the 100 year level, but we still have a lot of work to do.
 
Our team in New Orleans under the leadership of Karen Durham-Aguilara, COL Al Lee, and COL Jeff Bedey have done amazingly well in getting us to this point – and truly helped reduce the risk for the people of New Orleans. 
 
At the peak of Hurricane Gustav’s attack on the Gulf Coast, a member of New Orleans District demonstrated exceptional selfless service and personal courage.
 
Billy Zar, the captain of one of our debris-removal tug boats, and his team saw a 500-gallon fuel tank floating in dangerously high water in the Industrial Canal. They knew that if the tank were to hit the flood wall or other important structures, there could have been grave consequences.   So, acting on instinct and courage – and taking the appropriate safety precautions (including a life line tied to him, manned by his teammates), Billy jumped into the water and corralled the 500-gallon tank, possibly saving countless lives and protecting property.  Check out the whole story here.
 
Truth be known, he went into the water at least three times that day.  His heroism and the support of his team are testimony to our most valuable asset… our people.  And while we know that we still have a long way to go in restoring and improving flood risk reduction to the city of New Orleans, heroes like Billy Zar reinforce my confidence that we have the right people doing the right things to make it happen.
 
BUILDING STRONG

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