August 31st, 2008
08:25 PM ET

West Bank's untested levees could be target for Gustav

Editor's Note: This dispatch was sent in by CNN's Drew Griffin in Mississippi. Within a half-hour, the sky grew dark and the winds picked up. Here is Drew's dispatch:

Drew Griffin
CNN Correspondent

I'm sitting on the levee of the Mississippi in Gretna. It's across the river from New Orleans in what's called the West Bank.

My story tonight focuses on the lack of improvements to the levees over here – mostly because the West bank stayed dry during Katrina. But now that Gustav is hitting... or could hit... at a bad angle for the West Bank, the area is under mandatory evacuation.

Take a look at this photo-the busy Mississippi has no traffic now for hours. We're all just waiting now-and I just felt a drop of rain.

Filed under: Hurricane Gustav
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Liz

    Thank you - more investigative stories, please, about insufficient levees (in La., and across the country) and coastal wetlands neglect.

    People who don't care about hurricanes affecting people WILL care when it affects their gas prices ... or when a levee or other Corps of Engineers or govt. infrastructure project fails near them ...

    September 1, 2008 at 5:14 am |
  2. Larry

    The reporting does not track the projected storm surge vs. Katrina. This time the eastern side of the hurricane is more directly on New Orleans. The levees will have to with stand this surge.

    August 31, 2008 at 11:40 pm |
  3. mary kirk

    kathleen,NOLA,Orleans,Jefferson,StBernard,Plaquamines are BELOW sea level,like being in a saucer,the water has to be pumped out,problem is there's no lower ground to flow and we've had road flooding here in SW Florida and we were briefly on the very outer edge of Gustav rain bands. Lived 20 yrs in NOLA,suggest y'all ask Former Gov Blanco-D,current Lt Gov Landrieu-D and NOLA Mayor Nagin-D just exactly WHERE did the city,state and parish govts spend/put/use... the 2005-Jan2008 FEDERAL post Katrina recovery and reconstruction money.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  4. mary kirk

    portia,thankful you are safe,WB is scared,when our West Jeff Med Center shut the doors,the Harvey canal most likely will breach.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  5. Kathleen Farber

    I would just like to say that I am shocked by the reports I've been hearing about how little of the levy work has been completed in the 3 years since Katrina. We have prisons full of men(that taxpayers complain about) so why not load them up daily to these places of need and have them build? Lookat the labor costs that could be saved!

    August 31, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  6. JMH

    And then there are the peole down river in Plaquemines Parish including Phoenix, Louisiana. a half-hour drive plus a ten-minute car-ferry-ride southeast of New Orleans - and a rural town of 600 families on the East Bank of the Mississippi River - living right next to the levee that failed last time. .Phoenix is In the foot-shaped delta region, locals say looks like “the big toe dat slipped out da boot."

    They received almost no help for about a year except for volunteers from around the country for almost a year. They had lost everything in Katrina - even the bodies in their cemetery had to be found and reburied. With ten teens, one of whom was our 15 year old grandson, we had the priviledge of spending a week pitching in in response to the call of the Rev. Tyrone Edwards to "arise and rebuild.." Have they been evacuated?
    They We are concerned about the people in Plaquemines Parish with an insubstantial levee to protect them. During Katrina, they lost everything and had to fend for themseleves. A group of youths from California journeyed to New Orleans to help with the rebuild of teh community of New Zion led by their minister Rev. Tyrone Edwards.

    August 31, 2008 at 10:07 pm |
  7. James Mcloughlin

    the way Gustav is moving, North West, takes it on a path refered to for many years as "The Slot", which was called the worst path for a Hurricane to travel thats hits New Orleans. The Slot, stated that a storm had to go just below the city following the Mississippi North Westward towards Baton Rouge, the Eye Wall at 40 miles or less below the city. This path keeps the winds from the storm comming from the same direction, and at the same side of a home or business much longer than would a North bound Hurricane. The Tidal Surge also can push much faster and deeper into Lake Pontchartrain, and right into Lake Maurepas, which makes levee overtoping in Jefferson Parrish a problem, and also a problem to St. Charles Parrish, and Laplace by back flooding from Lake Maurepas.
    For the West Bank of the Mississippi, including all in the area of Louisiana HYW 1, who knows how bad the loss of wetlands will be for that area, this area has not taken a major Hurricane hit in quite some time. In the areas around and below Lake Salvador were some of the most abused by the oil industry and are the longest without Mississippi sedements running through them.
    This is a slow death of a people and state that is very special on this earth.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  8. Gerry

    Lower the evel of Lake Ponchartrain! Too late now but I believe that this whould have been one of the first steps taken to avoid a breach of the levees. Am I wrong or has this been done and if so why hasn't it been mentioned. I would have figured they would have opened the gates as soon as word of a definite possibility of Gustav heading that way.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  9. portia

    i just moved to Gretna last Wednesday, to start my Junior year at Xavier University of Louisiana. I wasn't expecting us to get hit by a hurricane this quickly, of this magnitude or have to evacuate from the new house my roommates and I share.

    this sucks to have such uncertainty of our future, and to hear the continued talk about the levees that are not fixed by the westbank is crushing. All of our belongings will be flooded. i thought i was lucky because i started after Katrina and moving to the westbank, which i was told was safer, but now i know that it's inevitable that everything is going to be gone.

    I'm praying that the storm doesn't cause to much damage, and that all of the students will be able to return to school on Thursday instead of us missing more days of school then we already are. Everybody please keep us in your prayers because we're down on our knees praying to whatever God we pray to that we can return this week.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:26 pm |
  10. ann oberts

    I think twice is enough......although I have never been
    to New Orleans, I think this city needs to move inland.
    The music, sights, and culture will be just as lovely.

    August 31, 2008 at 9:23 pm |
  11. Ruth from Washington State


    August 31, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  12. mitch

    I am so glad the rest of America spend billions of dollars on a place that should have been deserted. Lets get it right this time and stop spending LIVES, time, and money or a place which is destined to be destroyed time and time again.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:57 pm |
  13. SMcKnight

    Harvey Levy has a breach. It is not fixed. Hurricane Gustav will flood New Orleans. Get out now. From there. The levy is not built! The levy is open.

    St. Bernard also has serious problem but not already breached. Use your maps to find Harvey Levy in New Orleans. It cannot hold fifteen feet of water in St. Bernard, but Harvey has a breach now. Today it is open. It cannot hold even lower amounts, as it is open.

    Get out now.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  14. John Mullins

    We are watching from Tampa Florida, and being thankfull the the storm did not his us. We just visited New Orleans last month.

    In watching you show, you talk about the 17st pumping station, and other locations. We do not know where that is, and cannot find it on the map.

    Possible you should had a tropicalgraphical view of the City, and show the pumping station.

    We wish the people of New Orleans the best

    John & Vernetta Mullins
    Tampa, Florida

    August 31, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  15. Joe Hunkins

    The reporting from the storm front is amazing, thanks for your efforts.

    August 31, 2008 at 8:27 pm |