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Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Coast Recovery’

Katrina: Five years later…and building strong!

August 26th, 2010

The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal surge barrier floodwall the Corps’ largest-ever design-build civil works project. At almost two miles long, this $1.3 billion project is being called the “Great Wall of Louisiana.”

Five years ago, communities along the Gulf Coast experienced devastating loss and damage as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  As the long road to recovery began for thousands of Americans impacted by this tragedy, the Corps was called upon to do their part to help rebuild, restore and reconstruct the Hurricane and Storm Risk Reduction System in the Greater New Orleans area. 

What was once a patchwork of levees, floodwalls and pumps before the hurricanes is becoming a true System that will provide 100-year level perimeter protection against hurricane storm surge to greater New Orleans. Today, the area already has the best perimeter defense in its history, and work continues at a record pace. We are driving hard to have in place a system that can defend against a 100-year storm by June 2011. 

We are working towards this goal by using the best science, technology and talent available, leveraging the knowledge and capability of our partners in industry, architect-engineer firms, members of academia and international counterparts.  Together, we are developing and applying state-of-the-practice engineering solutions to the Hurricane and Storm Risk Reduction System and across coastal Louisiana. 

With this scientific expertise, we were able to design and have nearly completed construction on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier, the Corps’ largest-ever design-build civil works project. At almost two miles long, this $1.3 billion project is being called the “Great Wall of Louisiana,” and it is one of the key components in the Hurricane and Storm Risk Reduction System’s ability to defend against the effects of a 100-year storm.  Another key component of the system is the nearly $1 billion West Closure Complex, a gated surge barrier containing the largest drainage pump station in the world – now at 40% complete after only one year of construction. 

Other major work accomplished since Katrina includes: 

•     completion of all pump station repairs 

•     completion of one-third of pump station storm proofing projects 

•     raising the height of more than 15 miles of levees and 2.5 miles of floodwalls throughout the West Bank 

An unprecedented number of construction contracts has been awarded for this mission (more than 270), and more than $9 billion obligated.  What’s even more exciting is that about $2.3 billion has been awarded directly to Small and Disadvantaged Businesses, and more than 60% of these awards have gone to Louisiana-based businesses. 

We are committed to providing a system that will defend against the effects of a 100-year storm by June 2011.  But we aren’t done.  Work will continue beyond 2011 to complete other features of the system.  We will continue to use all available resources and Corps expertise across the Nation to deliver this essential system to the citizens of Greater New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana, and together with our state, local and federal partners, we will get ‘er done! 

Best, 

Van 

BUILDING STRONG®

Civil Works, Gulf Coast Recovery, Levees , ,

Returning Home

September 26th, 2008

Earlier this week, residents returned to their homes on Galveston Island for the first time since Hurricane Ike roared through the Texas coast. For many families, they came home to a scene of devastation, destruction, and loss. Please join me in praying that they will have hope for the future, wisdom as to what to do next, and strength for the long hard days ahead.

One of our teammates takes applications for Blue Roofs in Texas

One of our teammates takes applications for Blue Roofs in Texas

Returning home is the first step towards recovering from this challenging event. Their return would not be possible if not for the efforts of hundreds of dedicated men and women of our Corps Family across the nation who so worked hard with our federal, state, and local partners.

Together, we installed generators to provide critical power, delivered life-sustaining ice and water, and provided valuable temporary roofing and debris removal services and expertise.

To the volunteers who deployed to assist our Galveston teammates, and those back at home who carried a little more weight to continue your missions, I’m grateful for your hard work and determination. It’s moments and days like these that highlight why I am so honored to be a part of this great family.

We've contracted crews and more than 80 trucks to help clear interstate of debris

We've contracted crews and more than 80 trucks to help clear interstate of debris

We still have a long way to go to fully recover from Hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Katrina, but days like today serve as a reminder that together we can overcome anything!

Keep on BUILDING STRONG.

Emergency Response, Gulf Coast Recovery, Levees , ,

Going Above and Beyond

September 11th, 2008

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

Emergency Response, Gulf Coast Recovery, Levees , , , , ,

Rebuilding Trust in New Orleans

April 30th, 2008

I just returned from a visit to New Orleans, seeing some of the reconstruction progress as I toured the area with the Emir of Qatar, who generously donated a lot of money to the city to help with the rebuilding. The trip reminded me of a comment we received in a recent blog.

Ray Broussard of New Orleans posted the following comment:

“Public trust and faith in the Corps cannot even be earned again – not in the short term anyway. As before, the Corps will regain public trust very slowly over time as we slowly forget, forgive and die off, unless… structures fail again when tested by storms.”

I’m certain that Mr. Broussard’s comments reflect the feelings of many of his fellow citizens, and I appreciate his candor. I am genuinely empathetic for what the people of the greater New Orleans area have been through. I want you to know that rebuilding your trust is incredibly important to me, and enabling Gulf Coast recovery is our #1 domestic priority.

The progress I see each time I visit is really remarkable. The region has a better hurricane and storm damage reduction system in place than ever before in its history – and it will continue to get better.

But don’t just take my word for it! I encourage you to get out and see for yourselves the gates, the pumps, and all of the work designed to reduce your risk. And remember – that’s “reduce risk,” not “guarantee safety.” It’s incredibly important that everyone remember there is no way to eliminate risk altogether.

We know that we lost the trust and confidence of many citizens of southeast Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and we fully understand that regaining their trust and confidence will not be the result of anything that we might say, but through the quality of the work we, and our many partners, are doing.  Deeds, not words.

Civil Works, Corps Projects, Gulf Coast Recovery, Levees , , , ,