NEW ORLEANS — Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said he’s interested to see how the federally-funded levee protection system not only holds up through Tropical Storm Isaac, but how the Corps of Engineers watches over the entire network.
“Hopefully it will not be a significant test because this will remain, hopefully, a relatively weak storm and we’re all hoping for that,” said Vitter, who will be embedded with the Corps throughout the storm. “Really, I just want to see how the whole system performs and how the Corps goes through their entire routine.”
The Corps of Engineers has been strengthening the network since it failed during Hurricane Katrina, flooding more than half the city. It held up during Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Isaac is the latest test.
The multi-billion project still has gaps – eight in all, Vitter said – and that’s something the Senator is concerned about.
Isaac also will provide operators their first attempt at using barriers in Lake Borgne as well as the Westbank closure complex
“The big barrier out in Lake Borgne and the Westbank closure complex, those have never been fully closed before,” Vitter said. “This is the first time ever so it is an important exercise to go through those closures.”
But what Vitter said he’s most-concerned with is the vulnerabilities for areas outside of the protection network, including Lafourche, Terrebonne, eastern St. Tammany, western St. Charles and lower Jefferson parishes.
“Those are largely, or in some cases completely, unprotected,” Vitter said. “This post-Katrina system was built for Katrina, for the last storm, for the last war. We need to be worried about the next storm, the next war as well. We still have work to do in those relatively unprotected areas.”