Sunday, November 18, 2007

That's Six Inches?

Just before local elections in New Orleans last summer, the U.S. Corps of Engineers published new flood risk maps for the districts of Lakeview and Old Metarie showing how Corps improvements have improved the area's flood protection on a block-by-block basis. The maps didn't include specific technical data, so it wasn't possible to independently verify their accuracy. But they sure looked pretty:
The maps showed that the improvements made to the city canals' drainage systems would reduce flooding during a major storm by about 5.5 feet in Lakeview and nearby neighborhoods. The maps were based on a storm that has the likelihood of occurring at least once in 100 years.
So pretty, in fact, that the New Orleans Times-Picayune says Federal Gulf Coast Recovery Chief Donald Powell "called the reduced flood risk one of the most important events in the state's recovery."

Now it seems all those boastful men at the Corps made a small estimating mistake. Instead of 5 1/2 feet, the protection offered is just six inches.

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