New Orleans Levees and Floodwalls: Hurricane Damage Protection [Updated September 8, 2005] [open pdf - 29KB]
"Hurricane Katrina's storm surge breached floodwalls and levees surrounding New Orleans, causing widespread inundation and significant damage and hampering rescue and recovery efforts. Flooding from precipitation and storm surges flowing over levees and floodwalls was anticipated because the hurricane's intensity (Category 4) exceeded the structures' design (Category 3); however, structural failure of the floodwalls and consequent flooding were uncertain. The factors contributing to breaches are the subject of conjecture and likely will be the subject of investigation. The breaches occurred at the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Project being constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and maintained by local levee districts. Those observers questioning why infrastructure providing a greater level of hurricane protection was not available are countered by those arguing that structural protections carry their own risks. This report will be updated as needed to track significant developments."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22238