assesses risks to life and property posed by hurricanes in New Orleans for both pre-Katrina conditions and for a reconstructed hurricane protection system as of June 2006. Volume VIII has taken on a unique importance to the IPET effort because the information contained in it will be central to understanding the likelihood of future flooding and inundation in New Orleans and the resulting loss of life and fiscal assets in New Orleans. These issues are critical to the ability of residents and businesses to obtain financing and insurance for rebuilding in the area and for making decisions about the safety of living in New Orleans in the future. The following report discusses the contents and main sections of Volume VIII and presents its findings and its recommendations for improvements in bold faced print.
The NAE/NRC committee received an interim draft of Volume VIII for review in October 2007, and met with members of the IPET staff in New Orleans on December 3, 2007 to discuss the interim draft. At that meeting, members of the IPET team provided several presentations. At the conclusion of those presentations, time was provided for members of the public to comment, a standard practice with NRC committee meetings. Five people, all citizens of New Orleans, spoke with the committee. Some of them spoke as individuals, while others represented organizations involved in reconstruction and hurricane protection.
The overall risk assessment method used by the IPET appears to be appropriate for evaluating risks associated with the New Orleans hurricane protection system, and in some cases they advance the state-of-the-art in this field. However, the interim draft Volume VIII does not provide sufficient presentation and explanation of the methods employed or results obtained to allow this to be clearly determined. Many of the technical aspects of Volume VIII presented by the IPET at the December 3, 2007 meeting are impressive. Nevertheless, the interim draft Volume VIII is incomplete. Further information will have to be provided to fully explain and validate the methodology that was used and the results that were obtained.
The IPET has put forth a strong effort in producing its previous reports. The team has faced many analytical and conceptual challenges, and they are conducting these studies in a politically charged and contentious setting. They deserve a great deal of credit for their work to date. Despite these efforts, Volume VIII and the IPET study are not complete. This letter report points out additional work that will be necessary to bring the report to a successful completion. These additional efforts will require time and resources. Successful and prompt completion of Volume VIII and the IPET report is important for several reasons: it is important for the credibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; it is important to life decisions and financial investments regarding rebuilding and relocation in the New Orleans metropolitan area, and; it is important to ongoing and future analyses of hurricane protection and coastal restoration in southern Louisiana. The Corps of Engineers therefore is urged to provide the resources and support necessary for the prompt completion of Volume VIII.
Studies of the New Orleans hurricane protection system (HPS) are complicated by several factors. They include: (1) the size of the system, which covers hundreds of square miles