New Orleans Levees and Floodwalls: Hurricane Damage Protection [September 6, 2005] [open pdf - 38KB]
From the Summary: "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 was anticipated because of the hurricane's intensity; however, structural failure of the floodwalls and consequent flooding were uncertain. The immediate engineering and the underlying causes of the breaches are the subject of speculation, and likely will be the subject of investigations and congressional oversight. 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