Two years after Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), a controversial navigation channel that funneled storm surge into New Orleans and greatly worsened flooding, is still one of the biggest threats to the city. Creating and maintaining the MRGO also destroyed more than 20,000 acres of coastal wetlands that could have reduced Katrina’s storm surge and spared lives. Scientists from Louisiana State University estimate that the wall of water that hit New Orleans moved at 8-10 ft/sec through sections of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet – 3 to 4 times faster than it would have over natural wetlands.
Please let the Corps know that the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet must be properly closed to protect the City of New Orleans and valuable wetlands.
For years, scientists, conservation groups, and local advocates pleaded with the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to close the canal, warning that the MRGO posed a serious risk to the city. They argued that the MRGO was a double threat to New Orleans as it was a “hurricane highway” and destroyed coastal wetlands that could help buffer storm surge. The MRGO remains a grave threat to New Orleans as long as it remains open.
After much public pressure, the Corps has developed a plan to address some of the damage caused by the MRGO. The Corps is proposing to reduce the salt water intrusion through the Outlet that is killing healthy wetlands and damaging Lake Pontchartrain. But the Corps is not doing enough to address environmental and public safety issues. Unless it is properly closed, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet will remain a major threat to local residents.
Closing the MRGO in an environmentally responsible way also rebuilds a wetland buffer for the fragile earthen levees that have just been patched, significantly reducing the risk of future breaches. It also begins the long-term process of restoring the coastal wetlands that ultimately are just as important as better levees to the future safety of the New Orleans region.
The restoration needs of the wetlands of the Mississippi River delta that surround New Orleans and other threatened coastal cities have yet to be addressed at the federal level in the two years since hurricanes Katrina and Rita. You can help encourage the Corps to do the right thing and properly close the MRGO as a first step toward long-term recovery of the Mississippi River delta region. The health, safety, and welfare of the people of New Orleans depend on the Corps’ willingness to heed the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.
Contact the Corps today – tell them that keeping Louisianans safe requires rebuilding wetlands and properly closing the MRGO. Comment deadline is Tuesday, September 4th, 2007. Take action this Labor Weekend to help restore wetlands and ensure the safety of New Orleans.Thank you!