Browse Gamechangers:Clear

Plan for the Future, Not the Past

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina unleashed an 18-foot storm surge with 7-foot waves, overpowering the Mississippi River–Gulf Outlet and Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and causing the collapse of a 4,000-foot-long section of the floodwall along Louisiana’s Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC).

Following the widespread devastation in the region, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers set out to design and construct a structure that would protect against future flood risks based on the latest data and trends. The ultimate solution was a nearly two-mile-long, 26-foot-high Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System — the largest surge barrier of its kind in the world — to protect some of Southeast Louisiana’s most vulnerable areas from future storm surges.

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via ASCE OCEA Award

Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers via ASCE OCEA Award

They met the challenge of providing a 100-year level of risk reduction within an aggressive four year project schedule, motivated by a strong commitment to the citizens of New Orleans. The condensed schedule drove expedited analysis and permitting, as well as a design solution that was adjustable to evolving design criteria, minimized environmental impacts, and specifically tailored to support fast-track construction. We now have scientific tools for a forward-looking approach that rigorously assesses anticipated sea-level rise, increased storm intensity and geomorphic changes. Those tools were applied extensively in planning the designs for New Orleans.

Learn more at

Prev Story: Partnering with Mother Nature
Next Story: Ride, Find, Fix