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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Louisiana Storm Protection: Past, Present, and Future

American Society of Civil Engineers geotechnical-team members inspect a portion of the floodwall along the Industrial Canal that was overtopped and flattened by Katrina's storm surge. The force of the storm shattered much of the concrete wall that topped the steel sheet-piles. (Photo courtesy of: Rune Storesund/UC Berkeley)


The View Today

Hurricane Katrina exploited and forever altered the landscape of Louisiana. As reconstruction gets underway in New Orleans, scientists are looking at the underlying foundation of the levees and the surrounding wetlands for answers to what went wrong, and ways to guard against future storms.

A Checkered Past

For decades, New Orleanians placed their trust in a storm defense system that, 40 years since its construction, was still not completed when Hurricane Katrina swept in. A look at the history of the levees reveals misplaced priorities and outdated science that left the city's back door vulnerable to massive flooding.

Future Outlook

To guard against future hurricanes, engineers will have to rethink New Orleans' flawed protection system. Scientists are looking not just at man-made defenses, but also, to restoring Louisiana's wetlands as natural storm barriers.

Rebuilding Levees, Rebuilding Neighborhoods

It's been a year since Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans. Now returning residents wonder if the levees that failed in that storm will protect them. Living on Earth reports on the levee repairs.


Reporter's Notebook: Katrina Plus One -- Washington correspondent Jeff Young has been keeping Living on Earth listeners posted on the situation in New Orleans during the year since Katrina struck. He's tracked the recovery effort in the capital and spent time with the people of New Orleans at various stages of the cleanup and recovery.


Reporter's Notebook: Katrina Plus One
Published: June 2, 2006

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