Levee work in St. Bernard on schedule

March 6, 2006 at 9:24 PM

NEW ORLEANS, March 6 (UPI) -- Officials in St. Bernard Parish, one of the Louisiana areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, say that levee reconstruction is on schedule.

Kevin Wagner, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that defenses should be in place when the 2006 hurricane season begins June 1.

Katrina flattened most of St. Bernard's levees, including those along the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet. Rebuilding is expected to cost $58 million.

Wagner said that one critical part of the project is waiting for funding. To withstand another storm surge like Katrina's the levees should have concrete armoring, but Congress has not yet approved funding.

He said that flood protection experts from the Netherlands were surprised that the levees lacked armoring before Katrina.

Wagner has a personal stake in the rebuilding effort since he lives in Chalmette and lost his own house to Katrina.

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