Levee Breach in New Orleans
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Levee Breach in New Orleans

September 2, 2005

The 17th Street Canal separates New Orleans' Jefferson Parish (west) from Orleans Parish (east). The canals of the city, as well as the Mississippi riverbanks and the shore of Lake Pontchartrain are lined with earthen levees that usually keep the low-lying city from from being flooded. But as high water and wind from Katrina scoured the levees, large sections washed away, including a section reportedly several hundred feet long along the eastern side of the 17th Street Canal.

This image from Digital Globe's Quickbird satellite shows the flooding that resulted from the failure of the levee near the 17th Street Canal, which runs top-to-bottom along the left edge of the image. The right edge of the image shows the very western edge of City Park (the large version shows all of the City Park area). The flooding or Orleans Parish is so complete that at first, it is easy to mistake the greenish flood waters for tree-lined streets and lawns. However, comparing the area to the small section of Jefferson Parish that is visible along the very left edge of the image shows the dramatic difference.

The breach in the levee along the canal's eastern bank is obvious as a break in the tan line that runs along other portions of the canal. The hole allowed Lake Pontchartrain to pour into the neighborhoods known as the West End. Some homes and other buildings are completely submerged, while the roofs of others appear to float above the murky water.

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