Crumbling levees threaten US with new Katrina

Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP

Across the US, hundreds of federal flood control systems are at risk of failing, endangering millions of people and property across 37 states.

When Hurricane Katrina passed over New Orleans in 2005, more than 50 deficient levees were breaches, killing 1,464 people who were in close proximity to the flood control systems. Another natural disaster could subject hundreds, thousands or even millions more Americans to the same fate if the government doesn’t address the issue.

Inspectors discovered 326 deficient levees across the US, whose likely failures could leave millions of people dead. A breach could demolish homes and cost local governments millions of dollars. By failing to repair the defective structures, the US is choosing to risk the lives of its citizens who are walking on eggshells with their proximity to the flood zones. In its first ever inventory of the nation’s flood control systems, inspectors raised the overdue alarm that hundreds of levees may be unable to regulate water levels and prove useless in face of heavy rains. Such populated cities as Washington DC, Sacramento, Dallas, Cleveland and many others might be flooded at any moment.

The US Army Corps of Engineers has only issued ratings for 58 percent of the 2,487 flood control systems, which means inspectors could still discover hundreds more deficient levees. Many of the earthen levees are crumbling under the effect of trees, shrubs and animal holes. Decaying pipes and pumping stations could also cause the flood control systems downfall, while some of the levees are dangerously close to houses or even have houses built on top of them.

Although the Army Corps has no estimates as to how many people are endangered by the defective systems, the 2,487 federally regulated flood control systems protect about 10 million people. The failures of several hundred levees could therefore impact millions of US residents.

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