NEW ORLEANS -- There was pomp and circumstance on the Mississippi River during a military change of command ceremony on the Army Corps of Engineers sprawling Uptown complex.
Thursday, Colonel Ed Flemming said his goodbyes and welcomed Colonel Richard Hansen as the new head of the Army Corps in New Orleans.
Hansen acknowledged he has some big shoes to fill, especially during hurricane season which begins a week from Saturday.
"To continue to increase storm risk and flood mitigation throughout south Louisiana. To build and sustain the waterways that are so vital to the state and national economy and preserve a rich environment and coastline," said Hansen.
The surge barrier on the Industrial Canal, the Seabrook Sector Gate and West Closure Complex took shape under Flemming's watch.
The commanding general of the Mississippi Valley Division says all of those structures can be fully deployed this hurricane season.
"All the temporary closures that took a lot of time to put up in place, those are essentially no longer required," said Maj. Gen. John Peabody.
Col. Hansen will hit the ground running. There are major flood control and levee project now under construction or under review in places like Plaquemines and St. John Parishes.
"In just under 7 years we're starting to turn dirt in the next month on those federal levees," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. "The first phase at Jesuit Bend will be started soon. The improvement to the flood protection, the locks in Empire, the new pump station in Myrtle Grove will go out for bid soon, so there's a lot of contracts being let."
"The levee stops in St. Charles Parish and actually there's a portion of St. Charles that's not completely covered so our first leg of hurricane protection is to extend from St. Charles into St. John and that would help us tremendously," said St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom.
General Peabody says the so called West Shore Study addressing the needs of places like Laplace which flooded during last year's Hurricane Isaac is now underway.
"We've got the money to finish the study and we're on a glide path to do that," said Peabody. "We'll get that done next year. Then to the civil works review board and then we'll be able to ship that over to Congress and the administration and let the political leaders decide what if anything they want to do about it."
The Corps did not make either Col. Flemming or Col. Hansen available to the media.