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Levees Passed Big Test in New Orleans

But residents elsewhere had to be rescued from rising floodwaters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2021 6:40 PM CDT
Levees Passed Big Test in New Orleans
Members of the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's office rescue people from floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in New Orleans, La., Monday, Aug. 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Newser) – The damage done by Hurricane Ida is still being assessed—but levees and other flood protection measures strengthened in New Orleans since Katrina hit 16 years ago appear to have passed the test. The Flood Protection Authority said that as of Monday morning, water had not "overtopped" any of the 192 miles of barriers in the $14.5 billion system, the New York Times reports. Statewide, "we don’t believe there is a single levee anywhere now that actually breached or failed," said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, per the AP. "There were a few smaller levees that were overtopped to a degree for a certain period of time."

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The New Orleans suburb of LaPlace, however, where levees are still being constructed, suffered major flooding, and many residents had to be rescued. "Everything's gone," Ricardo Tellec told the Washington Post as he inspected his wrecked mobile home in a neighborhood that was still largely submerged. Water also topped the ring levee in the southern Jefferson Parish area, next to New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reports. Residents said the flooding was the worst they had ever seen. Authorities said more than 30 boats were deployed to search for trapped or stranded residents, many of whom had lost mobile phone service.

Ida weakened to a tropical storm Monday, but the National Hurricane Center warned that heavy rainfall could still cause flooding across parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama through Tuesday morning. New Orleans residents are among more than a million people without power. "Now is not the time to leave your home," tweeted the New Orleans Police Department on Monday. "There is no power. Trees, limbs, and lines are down everywhere. It is not safe to leave your home right now. Please remain sheltered in place." The department said anti-looting teams had been deployed across the city.

President Biden met virtually with governors and mayors from the region Monday and promised the federal government would do all it could to assist, CNN reports. "We know Hurricane Ida had the potential to cause massive, massive damage, and that's exactly what we saw," said the president, who has activated more than 5,000 National Guard troops. Biden said the government's efforts to help restore power would include using drones and satellites to search for damaged infrastructure. (Read more Hurricane Ida stories.)

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