The Army Corps of Engineers announced that only 5 feet of storm surge will be allowed into the 17th Street or London Avenue canals and then the flood gates will be closed….
The lower the safe-water level — the maximum height engineers believe the deficient floodwalls can handle — the greater the chance that canals will have to be closed against surges generated by tropical systems in the Gulf of Mexico.
The establishment of safe-water elevations are crucial numbers for residences and businesses situated in the basins that drain into the canals during heavy rain. Once the canals are closed against surges, pumping capacity is significantly reduced and less rainfall can be moved out of the basins and into the canals for disposal in Lake Pontchartrain.
The news that 5 feet is the drop-dead elevation for the two canals is triggering concern among distressed residents and elected officials who fear that closing the canals and reducing drainage capacity could result in more flooding.
The tropical wave the National Hurricane Center was watching closely is now officially a tropical depression. Tropical Depression One is expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico later today. It is now moving North-Northwest near 12 MPH. Maximum sustained winds are 35 MPH with higher gusts.
People are on the alert…
“Louisiana is prepared,” said Gov. Kathleen Blanco. “We will keep a close eye on the disturbed weather throughout the weekend. I want to remind our citizens to also do their part and prepare. Pick up an evacuation map and plan where you might go should this weather develop into a storm and head toward Louisiana.”
“The chances of a storm developing are unlikely, but we would rather err on the side of caution,” said Col. Jeff Smith, acting director of GOHSEP.
It’s going to be a long stressful season for the Gulf Coast.