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Among features of the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System insurance industry executives toured with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last fall was the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex.
Located approximately one-half mile south of the confluence of the Harvey and Algiers canals on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the feature includes a navigable floodgate, a pumping station, floodwalls, foreshore protection and an earthen levee.
It reduces risk to a large area along the west bank of the Mississippi River by removing 26 miles of levees, floodwalls, a gate and pumping stations along the Harvey and Algiers canals from the direct impact of storm surge. Approximately 250,000 residents live in the affected area.
Among the most noticeable features of the West Closure Complex are the pumping station and the 225-foot sector gate.
Construction of the sector gate required approximately 97,000 tons of reinforced concrete and two, 750-ton steel gates fabricated in Houston and transported to the site by barge. With the gates closed, the West Closure Complex can defend against storm surge from a 100-year event.
Equally impressive is the pumping station, which includes 11 individually powered pumps and is capable of pumping 19,140 cubic feet of water per second. The pumping station, which could fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in less than five seconds, is the largest drainage pump station in the world, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The 11 pumps can be controlled from the pump station floor or from a safe house built into the facility to allow it to be manned through an event of any intensity. The pump station can operate continuously at 100% capacity for three days by using backup generators.
NEW ORLEANS—A massive new system aimed at reducing hurricane and storm damage risk in Greater New Orleans that was developed in response to the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina will be completed soon, though its impact on insurance rates might take longer to be realized, some say.