Campaign Promises

Departments -> Defense -> Corps of Engineers

Corps of EngineersGrade
DE-19 The Promise: "...will ensure that New Orleans has a levee and pumping system to protect the city against a 100-year storm by 2011, with the ultimate goal of protecting the entire city from a Category 5 storm."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Rebuilding the Gulf Coast and Preventing Future Catastrophes", dated 09/11/08.
Status:In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, rated as a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale with sustained winds of 100 to 140 miles per hour and classified as a 400-year storm with a 0.25% chance of occurring in any year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repaired levees and temporarily repaired pumping systems in the New Orleans area and beyond.

The main concern for New Orleans residents was that although the pre-Katrina levee/pumping system was restored and strengthened, that restoration was limited to fast-moving, moderate Category 3 hurricane protection standards.

In 06/10, the Corps of Engineers delivered its 8,000 page Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Study to Congress. In the study, the Corps estimated that it would cost between $70B and $136B to protect Louisiana's coastline at the Category 5 hurricane level. A Category 5 system around New Orleans would require 30-foot levees whereas some of the rebuilt levees and flood walls are 10.5 feet high, capable of withstanding a slow-moving Category 2 hurricane or a fast-moving Category 3 hurricane. Experts in these matters agree that the storm surge from a Category 5 hurricane would be greater than a 100-year storm.

By end-CY2016, the Corps of Engineers was on track to complete permanent canal closures and pump stations at the end of three New Orleans outfall canals by mid-CY2018. This effort was plagued by cost overruns and schedule delays. Despite these improvements, New Orleans was not protected from a Category 5 storm.

This promise was not fulfilled.