About New Orleans Levees

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Editor:

In your article “Do Not Wait for Disaster,” you have a question about how New Orleans “could gamble so mindlessly on the levees as the fill on which it was built subsided?”

First, most of New Orleans is built on high ground. The city’s founders and early settlers built on the ridges and natural levees. The marshier areas were not built on until decades later, when a drainage system enabled city engineers to drain lower-lying and lakeside properties, build high levees, and use that reclaimed land for building.

Second, the levees were poorly designed, with inferior design structures and materials. These levees were ill-suited for withstanding a Category 3 (or higher) hurricane.

Wendy King

New Orleans, La.

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