BATON ROUGE – The Department of Transportation and Development has assembled a special engineering team, including six Louisiana State University researchers, to collect data related to the failure of levee systems in Greater New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
DOTD Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry said Monday that the nine-person team, dubbed “Louisiana Team,” will work closely with experts from other teams on comprehensive forensic data collection. The other teams include experts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a group funded by the National Science Foundation and a group of researchers from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
“This data collection is extremely important in understanding how the breaches occurred,” Bradberry said in announcing the team. “LSU is home to one of the largest groups of hurricane experts in the nation, and it already has an excellent dataset regarding the breaches.”
Bradberry said the public must have confidence in the rebuilding process, and that will happen only if the analysis of why the levees were breached considers all relevant data.
“Data collection is the first step in determining what caused the breaches,” the secretary said. “We expect Louisiana Team’s participation to enhance what must be a detailed and thorough investigation.”
Leading Louisiana Team is Ivor van Heerden, Ph.D., director of the LSU Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes. Van Heerden also is deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center and is an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering.
Louisiana Team’s mission is to collect datasets related to all seven breaches, including:
1. Levee plan specifications and inspection reports; water surge elevations; and geological and geotechnical reports.
2. Eyewitness accounts of residents who lived near the levee.
3. Clock survey (obtaining as many stopped clocks as possible from flooded homes) along with an elevation of the height of the clock above the ground.
4. Photogrammetry and plane table mapping of each levee breach.
During Hurricane Katrina, a number of levee systems protecting the Greater New Orleans area failed – on the east and west banks of the Industrial Canal, east and west banks of the London Avenue Canal, the east bank of the 17th Street Canal, the north bank of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the west bank of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO).