Posted May 25, 2006 - While federal officials declare New Orleans' levees safe, enegineering experts say the city is not storm-proof.
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Although work continued Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it was all but finished the $800 million project to repair levees damaged by Hurricane Katrina`s devastating flooding last August - just in time for the June 1 start of hurricane season.
Where levees were breached and battered, millions of cubic yards of soil have been put into place along more than half the 350-mile levee system, federal officials say.
New gates stand at the mouths of New Orleans' three major drainage canals and storm-damaged pumps are being renewed, engineering experts say. The storm-protection system was also improved with tougher concrete floodwalls, and more than 150 miles of new or repaired levees.
However, some experts caution that the city isn't 100 percent flood-proof. Independent engineers say New Orleans is still at risk of more flooding in a severe storm, because the level of protection the corps reached is not as strong as the city needs.
And, they are hoping the system is not put to a Katrina-sized test before more improvements are made.
"Some of these things were poorly designed and were almost pre-ordained to fail," said Wayne Clough, the head of a National Research Council team formed to assess the corps` management of the disaster told The Associated Press. "Just because they've been restored to their condition pre-Katrina doesn't mean they are perfectly safe."
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