The hammering that Hurricane Katrina gave New Orleans isn’t news anymore. Engineers are building something they say will keep it that way. It’s a pump. A big pump. Today, on Engineering Works!
People who live in New Orleans found out the hard way that the city can be a bad place to be when a big hurricane comes. Most of the Big Easy is below sea level and it filled up with floodwaters from the storm surge when the levees broke.
Engineers are installing a big new pump they say should keep the city dry in case another big hurricane blows in. In engineer-talk, they call it the West Closure Complex, or WCC, and they say it’s the biggest pump station ever built. If everything stays on schedule, it should be completed in 2011.
The West Closure Complex will protect the city from storm surge in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway with two layers of defense. Protection starts with steel floodgates sturdy and tall enough to block a 16-foot storm surge. Then they’ll fire up the pumps. These are big pumps, big enough to empty an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than five seconds.
They’re built solid, so they won’t collapse under pressure, the way the city’s levees did last time. The WCC is built to stand up to 140 mile-per-hour wind. Even runaway barges can’t dent it.
The wind sounds like it’s rising, and we’ll see you later.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web. http://engineeringworks.tamu.edu.