EXPLAINER: Is New Orleans protected from a hurricane?

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New Orleans finds itself in the path of Hurricane Ida 16 years to the day after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding. But Ida arrives at the doorstep of a region transformed since 2005 by a giant civil works project and closer attention to flood control. The federal government spent $14.5 billion on levees and other infrastructure that protects New Orleans and surrounding areas. Rainfall must be pumped out from inside the ring of levees. Drainage capacity has increased, but the city still struggles with an old pump system and often clogged drains. Areas outside the urban core that the levee system protects may have little or no protection against storm surge.

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