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17th Street Canal
Following the meeting, Col. Gunter took Prof. Bar-Yam and Mr. Seguin on a tour of certain sites under the management of Task Force Hope. First, they visited a gate and pumping station at the mouth of the 17th St. Canal, the site of one of the most infamous breaches during Katrina. The canal, with a separate set of pumps at its other end, under normal circumstances drains rainwater into Lake Ponchartrain from low-lying portions of the city (formerly swampland). The new gate serves to close off the canal in the event of a storm surge pushing water south from the lake into the city at that point, as happened during Hurricane Katrina. The pumps, normally dormant, are for pumping accumulated rain water over the gate into Lake Ponchatrain when the gate is closed.
The gate and pumping station observed by Prof. Bar-Yam has been built following Hurricane Katrina; it satisfies the immediate need for a “100-year level of protection”. Nevertheless, it is only a temporary structure, and at the time of the NECSI visit, the plans for the permanent structure had just been approved and construction was about to begin on an enclosed pumping structure and a gate farther out in the lake.