Louisiana governor: Modeling shows levee system will withstand Hurricane Ida

Louisiana governor: Modeling shows levee system will withstand Hurricane Ida
© Greg Nash

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on Sunday said that modeling shows the state’s multi-billion dollar levee system it build following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 should hold during Hurricane Ida.

When asked by guest host Ed O’Keefe on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if the state’s $14 billion levee system should hold during the storm, Edwards said he feels “very good” about the measures in place.

“So bottom line, that $14 billion levee system should hold?” O’Keefe asked Edwards.

“Yeah well that, that's, all of our modeling shows that, we feel very good about what's inside the hurricane risk reduction system,” Edwards responded.

He said Hurricane Ida will be “a tremendous test” for the systems the state has in place.

“We have lesser systems, protection, built along the coast where the levees aren't as hot and they're not as fortified. And we're very concerned there and this will be a tremendous test of those systems and quite frankly it's going to be the strongest test we've had yet for the current hurricane and storm risk reduction system itself,” he added.

New Orleans rebuilt its levee system after Hurricane Katrina, which hit Louisiana exactly 16 years ago.

Hurricane Ida, a category 4 storm, is now making its way to the state and is expected to make landfall Sunday afternoon.

Edwards said the state’s modeling shows that the most populated parts of southeast Louisiana covered by the system will be protected from the storm surge.

He also said it appears that “hundreds of thousands of people” evacuated in preparation for the storm, which he called “very difficult.”

The governor spoke to the added complication of handling Hurricane Ida amid a pandemic, especially in Louisiana which is seeing an uptick in cases.

When asked if major hospitals, most of which were not evacuating patients before the storm, are “going to be all right,” Edwards said “well this is going to be a real challenge.”

He said the net inpatient census was reduced by roughly 500, creating some additional capacity. He also said evacuating large hospitals was “just not an option” because there are no neighboring hospitals large enough to take the patients in.

The state was, however, able to evacuate more than 20 nursing homes, Edwards said.

“This is going to test us in ways that we've not been tested before, for a lot of reasons, but this COVID situation is certainly one of them,” Edwards said.