[StBernard] St. Bernard residents uneasy over temporary levee
westley at da-parish.com
Sun May 17 10:52:50 EDT 2009
St. Bernard residents uneasy over temporary levee
10:32 PM CDT on Friday, May 15, 2009
Susan Edwards / Eyewitness News
sedwards at wwltv.com
ST. BERNARD, La. - Leaders in St. Bernard Parish argue thousands of their
residents are vulnerable this hurricane season, which is now only days away,
and some residents worry the Army Corps of Engineers isn't doing enough to
But the Corps argues the protection is top-notch, and explains why.
John Gallo has lived in St. Bernard Parish for 70 years and has seen a lot
of flooding, and a lot of devastation during that time.
Today, Gallo lives a stone's throw from the Varette-to-Caernarvon Levee in
lower St. Bernard Parish, and has braced himself for more problems this
"It's a good strong levee, we have a good base in that levee, but there's a
fault in that levee, they have to fix it," said Gallo.
The Army Corps has built up about eight and a half miles of the levee by
three to four feet. But it's the sandbags that fill gaps along the way, that
have residents in lower St. Bernard Parish worried it's not enough
protection during a storm.
"If you get a 15- to 20-foot surge it'll beat those baskets and push them to
Judge Perez," said Gallo.
Along the levee, there are a total of four gaps, with exposed pipes--now
surrounded by Hesco baskets and sand bags. While the levee itself is almost
complete, the areas with sandbags and baskets are a temporary fix.
"The permanent measure is construction of a T-wall along this, eight and a
half miles long," said Chris Gilmore, Senior Project Manager for the Army
Corps of Engineers. "Top elevation of the T-wall is elevated to 29, the top
of the levee is an elevation of 20, so it will be 9- to 10-feet taller."
But that permanent fix comes toward the end of this year.
"A temporary is not adequate protection," said Fred Everhardt, Jr., St.
Bernard Parish council member. "We are around hurricane season, the levee is
not mending. It is higher, but it takes years for the levee to mend, it's
Vulnerable enough, Everhardt worries, to cause a big problem if the right
storm comes along, leaving as many as 6,000 residents in lower S. Bernard
"Who is going to accept the responsibility, to these residents, who will we
send the bill to," said Everhardt.
"Obviously if we get a huge storm, yes, it could potentially be overtopped,
go over the Hescos and sandbags," said Gilmore. "But keep in mind for
Gustav, Ike and other hurricanes we did not have overtopping on the levee
even before raised it."
The Corps says they have done testing, they know what kind of storm surge
these plugged areas can withstand, and feel confident the Hesco baskets and
sandbags offer enough protection.
Residents though are still uneasy. They simply don't want to find out the
hard way in upcoming days.
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