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New Orleans gets new levee system, 8 years after Katrina

Lower Ninth Ward resident S.J. Thomas walks in front of the new levee wall along the Industrial Canal on August 28, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In Louisiana today, the Army Corps of Engineers is holding a ribbon cutting to announce the completion of the levee system that covers the West Bank of the Mississippi -- across the river from New Orleans. It's just one part of the $14.5 billion overhaul of the region's flood protection system. The Army Corps of Engineers has been working to upgrade the levees and pumping stations in Orleans and surrounding parishes to withstand a 100-year storm surge.

"The hundred year system is in place," says Corps spokesperson Rachel Rodi, "so the things that we are finishing are just minor details."

The 75 miles of levees that make up West Bank system are now complete. The rest of the system should be done in the next year, accordint to Rodi.

"We do have some remaining work and that's our permanent pump stations. Those will go well into 2017," Rodi says.

Steve Staples is the owner of Vintage City Guitar, a block and a half from the West Bank Levee in Algiers. He will not be at the ribbon cutting. For one, he wasn't invited. It's not open to the public. But even if he was, he would skip it.

"When I hear stuff especially when the Army Corps of Engineers is involved my ability to believe and trust anything that they say is gone," Staples says.

Many in this region lost faith in the Army Corps after the 2005 levee failure. How the new system works could help restore some of that faith.

To see the geography of New Orleans and the Mississippi River, click around the map below.

 

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About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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