Audacious Water
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Audacious Water

Mead A. Allison. Credit: https://sse.tulane.edu/eens/faculty/allison

What Hurricane Ida Teaches Us about Infrastructure

Tulane’s Mead Allison tells John future coastal urban protection will have to be both built and natural

The biggest “win” in Ida is the performance of the new $15 billion flood protection system around metropolitan New Orleans built post-Katrina. This system of floodwalls, levees, pumping station and flood gates known as HSDRRS (Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System) performed magnificently in its first severe test, halting storm surge from entering the city.

— Mead Allison

Despite the fact that New Orleans was on the “strong side” of the storm in Ida and the weak in Katrina, damages were more severe in the metro area in Katrina. That can be ascribed to the failing levees, destruction of the pumping system to remove water, and 80% of the city ultimately sitting flooded for several weeks after the storm.

— Mead Allison

However, there is a lesson to be learned from the metro New Orleans Ida experience. Coastal cities like New Orleans, Houston, Miami and New York that are vulnerable to rising sea levels and increasing tropical storm frequencies, are considering strategies of gray infrastructure flood protection (HSDRRS-type). These require bringing power in from outside the flood walls to maintain pumping from extreme rainfalls inside the walls and to keep power to our homes.

— Mead Allison

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