Post-Katrina reforms make levee, floodwall inspections a daily job | New Orleans Advocate

On a recent morning, the heat reflecting off the concrete floodwall that runs along the Orleans Outfall Canal made the heat index of only 109 seem like a joke, but a three-man team inspecting the walls kept walking, probing and taking notes.

There was no time to stop. They still had 39 miles of floodwalls, 117 miles of levees, 204 floodgates and 102 flood valves to check in New Orleans — a routine they repeat four times a year. Meanwhile, another team of eight employees was opening and closing hundreds of gates and valves, which it does every day.

“It never really ends,” Johnny Holzenthal said. He leads the levee inspectors for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, which oversees the operation and maintenance of part of the new, $14.5 billion storm protection system that protects the east bank.

Nonstop inspections are one of the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

Photo provided by Bob Marshall/The Lens -- Johnny Holzenthal consults a checklist while walking the Orleans Outfall Canal during a quarterly inspection of the metro area\s new hurricane protection system. Before Hurricane Katrina, local levee boards often ignored federal rules requiring regular inspections, but today the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority has 11 people doing checks full-time.

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