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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal talks with Col. Murray Starkel, deputy commander of the New
Orleans District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Army Corps Admits to Knowing Little of Levees

May 12, 2008 03:41 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by Isabel Cowles
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not know the condition of thousands of the nations levees, some areas’ only defense against floods.

30-Second Summary

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it is not aware of the condition of most levees across the country. According to the Associated Press, the corps “lacks an inventory of thousands of [levees] and has no idea of their condition.”

The flood systems originally built in the United States were constructed to protect against small-scale flooding and are not meant to guard against large-scale natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, explains levee expert Robert Bea of the University of California at Berkeley.

The Army Corps of Engineers oversees about 2,000 of America’s levees, while thousands of others are under private management. But before the Army Corps can begin necessary updates and repairs on America’s flooding infrastructure, it must locate and analyze all of the existing levees.

The weakness of existing levees has come under scrutiny since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, when levee walls broke and floods engulfed New Orleans. Additionally, in January of 2007, the Army Corps of Engineers identified at least 146 levees that would not adequately protect cities from flooding.

In March of 2007, Congress proposed a bill aimed at tightening the U.S. levee system, which would include more consistent reviews of national levees and the creation of a levee review board. The bill has not been addressed since March 21, 2007.

Headline Link: ‘Army Corps says Condition of many levees a mystery’

Background: U.S. levees prove faulty

Historical Context: ‘A Century of Floods’

Related Topics: Current measures to reinforce U.S. flooding infrastructure

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