New Orleans levee system performance during Hurricane Katrina: London Avenue and Orleans Canal South

Javier Ubilla, Tarek Abdoun, Inthuorn Sasanakul, Michael Sharp, Scott Steedman, Wipawi Vanadit-Ellis, Thomas Zimmie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. The effects of the hurricane were particularly devastating in the city of New Orleans. Most of the damage was due to the failure of the levee system that surrounds the city to protect it from flooding. This paper presents the results of centrifuge models conducted at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers simulating the behavior of the levees at London Avenue North and South that failed during Hurricane Katrina. Those levees failed without being overtopped by the storm surge. Also included are the results of a centrifuge model of one levee section at Orleans Canal South, which did not fail during the hurricane. The key factor of the failure mechanism of the London Avenue levees was the formation of a gap between the flooded side of the levee and the sheetpile. This gap triggered a reduction of the strength at the foundation of the protected side of the levee. The results are fully consistent with field observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-680
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Volume134
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008

Keywords

  • Centrifuge
  • Damage
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Levees
  • Louisiana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Science(all)

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