Corps says canal wall will hold
by Robert Travis Scott, The Times-Picayune Monday September 01, 2008, 10:48 AM
BATON ROUGE -- Despite water sloshing over the west side of the Industrial Canal wall, the Corps of Engineers is confident the wall will hold and that no significant flooding will occur as a result, a spokeswoman said this morning at the state's Emergency Operation Center.
"We're confident in the stability of that wall," which was fortified after Hurricane Katrina, said Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of Task force Hope for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Also, the reports so far are positive on the outflow canals to Lake Pontchartrain, which was a serious source of flooding after Hurricane Katrina. Water from the drainage canals is flowing into the lake and there is no reason at this time to close the canal gates, the Corps said.
Based on current surge elevations, "We're not expecting a major inundation" of New Orleans, she said. "But again, where hurricanes are concerned we have to watch it."
Durham-Aguilera confirmed that a 70-by-500-foot barge had cut loose in the Industrial Canal, near the canal lock. Another barge on the Canal appears to have sunk, she said. She had no further information about the barges.
The high surf against the Inner Harbor canal wall is a result of high wind and waves and there is no breach of the wall, she said. Corps engineers "have reaffirmed our calculations" about the strength of the wall and have concluded that they will not break, she said.
Lake Pontchartrain's level remains below that of the outflow canals, which means the canals are flowing water into the lake and the pump stations are not required to move the water out of the city. During Katrina, water moving into the canals from the lake placed pressure on the walls, which broke on several outflow canals and flooded the city.
Since then, the Corps has placed gates at the mouth of the outflow canals. The Corps is not expecting to have to close those gates during this storm, Durham-Aguilera said.
On the west bank, the gates were closed for the Harvey Canal and no significant problems have been noted so far.