Expert: New Orleans Is Prepared for Isaac

Texas Tech associate professor can discuss levee system failures and improvements.


Seven years to the day, a less powerful storm isforecastedto make landfall in New Orleans, even as evidence of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction still lingers in that city. Much of the blame was centered on the catastrophic failures of the levee system, designed to protect residents from the storm surge.

Isaac continues to gain strength Tuesday, and is expected to come ashore as a Category 1 hurricane. Texas Tech associate professor Ted Cleveland can provide insight as to the state of the levees.


Ted Cleveland, associate professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Whitacre College of Engineering, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3523 or

Talking Points

  • Personal experience from Houston, during Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
  • The levee system failures during Hurricane Katrina
  • Design changes to the improved levee system


  • “During Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ levee system actually did pretty well until the pumps failed in one location and there was a piping breach. These multiple points of failure contributed to the catastrophic failure we all watched on TV.”
  • “Since that time, the piping problem is better understood. The system was rebuilt and now incorporates interlocking levees, meaning that some parts can fail without compromising the whole thing.”
  • “If this slow-moving storm continues at the current speed (10 mph) or faster, it should pass over the city fast enough that the flood control system should perform well. However, if it parks on the city and is a rainmaker, then there will be changes.”