New Orleans Survived Isaac, and So Did I

The city’s new flood protection system was tested by the hurricane — and it passed.

Hurricane Isaac NASA Earth Observatory night view Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory
This satellite image caught Hurricane Isaac — a tropical storm at the time — churning over the Gulf of Mexico just after midnight on August 28.

Hurricane Isaac produced a 2-to-3-meter (6-to-10-foot) storm surge and dropped more than 50 centimeters (20 inches) of rain where it hit land near New Orleans last week. In an important post-Katrina test, the city’s new $US 14.5 billion system of beefed-up levees, flood gates, and pumps kept residents (relatively) dry. Hundreds of homes outside of the protected area faced flooding, however, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has called for an extension of the levee system.

In Alabama, we were barely tickled by the storm: a few days of heavy rain and a number of tornado warnings were the extent of my hurricane experience, for which I am grateful. (You can read about how my husband and I prepared before the storm here.) There were some flash-flood warnings in our area as well, but the lights stayed on and so did the water — two resources so readily available in the U.S. that it is easy to forget how quickly they can be taken away.

Unfortunately, much of the thirsty Midwest missed out on the hurricane, too. Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana received between five and 15 centimeters (two to six inches) of rain from the storm, easing the hold of one of the worst droughts in U.S. history, but Iowa and the Plains states are still parched, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. The area under “exceptional drought,” the highest level assigned by the Drought Monitor, expanded into northwest Iowa, southeast South Dakota, west and northeast Nebraska, and northwest Kansas.

If you want a behind-the-scenes account of how the Drought Monitor is created each week, read this story by my colleague Brett Walton. Also, take a look at Circle of Blue’s Hurricane Katrina coverage here, and Hurricane Irene coverage here.

How did you experience Hurricane Isaac? Let me know by emailing codi@circleofblue.org, tweeting Codi6Yeager, or commenting below.

–Codi Yeager-Kozacek
Circle of Blue Reporter

Author: Codi Yeager-Kozacek  is a news correspondent for Circle of Blue based out of Hawaii. She co-writes The Stream, Circle of Blue’s daily digest of international water news trends. Her interests include food security, ecology and the Great Lakes.

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1 Comment
  1. [...] story was originally published by CircleofBlue.org. Yeager-Kozacek is a Maple City, Michigan, native who currently lives in Enterprise, [...]

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