Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Will the levee repairs hold? Probably not.

Repairs to New Orleans' levees may be insufficient to protect residents moving back to the devastated city if another hurricane comes before the tropical storm season ends this month, expert engineers said Wednesday.

Dozens of breaches continue to mar the city's levee system, including a large seep at the Industrial Canal last week, according to engineering experts who have examined the floodwalls.

Repairs have gotten better in recent days, the experts told a Senate panel investigating floodwall failures after Hurricane Katrina. But the initial rebuilding process was done with little or no engineering guidance and perhaps substandard materials, they said.

``Short term, without a storm, they are probably adequately safe,'' said Dr. Peter Nicholson, a University of Hawaii engineering professor, representing the American Society of Civil Engineers. ``Certainly with a large storm, as we are not yet out of hurricane season, and certainly for next hurricane season, there is significant risk.''

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