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NECSI president Yaneer Bar-Yam, prior to teaching a seminar for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington DC, travelled to witness the efforts of the Corps in post-Katrina and Rita New Orleans. Paul Seguin, a strategic planner for USACE headquarters in Washington DC, accompanied Prof. Bar-Yam for the visit.
The two met with deputy directors of Task Force Hope COL Greg Gunter and Mike Park, as well as other members of the task force. Task Force Hope was created out of the Corps' initial response to Katrina in which they provided emergency structures, facilities and infrastructure as well as debris removal. The task force was sustained after the inital response in order to rebuild and improve the levees. Its current mission is to deliver a comprehensive Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System by June 2011, to reduce the risk of overwhelming the system to less than 1% per year. This goal is commonly known as a "100-year level of protection”, although this name gives a misleading sense of security. This primary agenda is augmented by additional, longer-term projects.
Task Force Hope is a goal-based organization with a can-do attitude. In its offices digital displays are visible in every room, counting down by the second to when the mission of 100-year protection is to be achieved. Task Force Hope occupies a small suite of offices in the massive headquarters of the New Orleans district of the USACE. The New Orleans district, with a staff of 1300, is the largest district of the Corps. The staff of Task Force Hope, just six full time government employees, oversees the much larger Hurricane Protection Office and the Protection Restoration Office.