FORTIFIED BUT STILL IN PERIL, NEW ORLEANS BRACES FOR ITS FUTURE

Burnell Cotlon lost everything in Hurricane Katrina — “just like everyone else,” he said.

When the flawed flood wall bordering his neighborhood here in the Lower Ninth Ward gave way in August 2005, the waters burst through with explosive force that pushed his home off its foundations and down the street. What was left: rubble, mud and mold.

Not far from his rebuilt home stands a rebuilt flood wall, taller and more solidly anchored in its levee than the old one. On the other side of that lies the canal whose storm-swollen waters toppled the old wall, letting Lake Pontchartrain spill into the neighborhood and then sit, more than 10 feet deep, for weeks on end. As an added shield, an enormous gate closes the canal off from the lake when storms approach. Similar gates can secure the city’s other major canals. In all, federal, state and local governments spent more than $20 billion on the 350 miles of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps that now encircle greater New Orleans.

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