The government's repairs to New Orleans' hurricane-damaged levees may put the historic French Quarter in greater danger than it was before Hurricane Katrina, a weakness planners said could not be helped, at least for now.
Experts say the stronger levees and flood walls could funnel storm water into the cul-de-sac of the Industrial Canal, 3 kilometers from Bourbon Street, and overwhelm the waterway's 3.6-meter-high concrete flood walls that shield some of the city's most cherished neighborhoods.
The only things separating Creole bungalows and St. Louis Cathedral from a hurricane's storm surge are those barriers, similar in design to the walls that broke during Katrina.
"A system is much like a chain. We have strengthened some of the lengths, and those areas are now better protected," said Robert Bea, a lead investigator of an independent National Science Foundation team that examined Katrina's levee failures.