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Letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Metairie, LA

U.S. Sen. David Vitter today asked the U.S. Corps of Engineers to get an expert, independent review on whether and to what extent the Hurricane Protection System put in place after Hurricane Katrina made flooding worse in parts of southeast Louisiana that are outside of the system because of a funneling effect or similar impact. Vitter will address this with the Corps during an aerial tour of southeast Louisiana tomorrow.

"The good news from Hurricane Isaac is that the Corps' post-Katrina hurricane protection system in metropolitan New Orleans performed well," Vitter said. "The bad news is that there was significant flooding in several areas outside the system, in many cases at unprecedented levels. The people in those areas deserve a careful, scientific, and expedited review of this issue by outside, independent experts."

Places like Plaquemines Parish, lower Jefferson Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, and specific parts of St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parish experienced severe flooding and are not protected by the post-Katrina system.

A copy of Vitter's letter is below.

August 31, 2012

The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
108 Army Pentagon
Room 3E446
Washington, DC 20310-0108

Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick
Commanding General and Chief of Engineers
Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000

Dear Secretary Darcy and General Bostick:

As you know, the good news from Hurricane Isaac is that the Corps' post-Katrina hurricane protection system in metropolitan New Orleans performed well in this category 1 hurricane test. The bad news is that there was significant flooding in several areas outside the system, in many cases to unprecedented levels in those areas.

An obvious and legitimate question which arises from this is whether and to what extent the post-Katrina system made flooding worse in those other areas outside the system because of a funneling effect or similar impact.

I formally request a careful, scientific, and expedited review of this issue by outside, independent experts. It should include but not be limited to the major flooding which occurred on the east bank of Plaquemines Parish, lower Plaquemines Parish, lower Jefferson Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, and specific parts of St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parish.

I understand the new system was built in an expedited manner that did not allow for a full understanding of the effects of residual flooding in the surrounding areas. But those areas that did experience flooding had protection projects, be it studies or other work ongoing, that were deemed not feasible or are currently stalled like the West Shore Hurricane Protection Project.

Clearly, through numerous authorities and funding sources, the Corps has the ability to have this work performed on an expedited basis.

I look forward to discussing with you in more detail, starting tomorrow in person, how this will be carried out.

Thank you for all of the work by Corps personnel during this very significant event. I was embedded with many of them at the Corps' New Orleans headquarters and saw much of that important work firsthand.

Sincerely,

David Vitter
United States Senator


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