Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Preparedness and Revitalization

New Orleans, Louisiana

Featured image for the project, Assessing Flooding and Hydrodynamics for Community Preparedness and Revitalization

050902-N-5328N-228 New Orleans (Sept. 2, 2005) - Four days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, many parts of New Orleans remain flooded. The Navy's involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols (RELEASED)


The largest of New Orleans’ 17 wards, the 9th Ward is located on the easternmost downriver portion of the city. In the early 1920s, in order to connect the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain, an industrial canal was dredged through the neighborhoods fringing the river. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the neighborhoods on either side of the Industrial canal experienced catastrophic flooding. The Lower 9th Ward garnered national attention with photos and footage of residents stranded on rooftops and helicopters rescuing residents trapped by the flood waters.

In the years following Katrina, residents of the 9th Ward continue to face a variety of challenges related to water-main breaks, sewage back-ups, mold/mildew outbreaks, and the long-term threat of sea level rise. Although the ward has yet to experience flooding as catastrophic as Katrina, smaller flood events have occurred. During an August 5, 2017 storm that dropped close to 10 inches in some neighborhoods, the pumps installed to prevent flooding throughout New Orleans failed, and water ended up pooling in the streets with nowhere to drain. Contaminated drinking water prompted boil advisories for 9th Ward residents and this left many worried about the next big storm.

In addition to these chronic issues, 9th Ward residents have complained about disruptive explosions occurring along the industrial canal. Residents have noted cracked walls as a result of the blasts and remain confused about the nature of the activities.

In 2009, a local non-profit group called A Community Voice was established to provide a community voice to the working, poor, elderly, women, children and families in New Orleans. The organization brings together people with common interests and concerns related to issues that affect their everyday lives. A Community Voice would like to obtain a better understanding of the causes of flooding in the 9th Ward, the reason for the explosions along the canal, and how changes to the canal and levee will affect flooding in their neighborhood. The organization would like to work with a dedicated hydrologist to investigate the flooding, synthesize any available reports and develop next steps or proposed solutions. A Community Voice will use their enhanced understanding to have productive interactions with local decision-makers.

This project has been conceived and designed in partnership with community leaders at A Community Voice and with our national partner, Flood Forum USA.

Project Team

Community Lead

Bio coming soon!

Beth Butler, Executive Director of A Community Voice, and Reverend Richard Bell, board member of A Community Voice, are community leads on the project.


Scientific Liaison

Dr. John Pardue is the Elizabeth Howell Stewart Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Louisiana State University. He directs the Hazardous Substance Research Center at LSU.  Dr. Pardue’s research group investigates the fate and transport of chemicals in the environment focused primarily on chemicals in wetlands and aquatic systems, environmental impacts of disasters and shoreline restoration techniques.  Currently he is performing research on the fate and remediation options for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Louisiana marshes and barrier islands. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers and conducted research for federal agencies such as EPA, NSF, NOAA, and DOD.  His research has led to development of a number of innovative technologies including the sustainable constructed wetland approach for treating contaminated groundwater. His group published the first peer-reviewed scientific paper on Hurricane Katrina (Pardue, J.H., W.M. Moe, D. McInnis, L.J. Thibodeaux, K.T. Valsaraj, E. Maciasz, I. van Heerden, N. Korevec and Q.Z. Yuan. 2005. Chemical and microbiological parameters in New Orleans floodwater following Hurricane Katrina. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:8591 – 8599).

Collaborating Organization(s)

This project is part of one of TEXs’ new cohorts. TEX has partnered with Flood Forum USA which supports grassroots flood groups across the country by helping them develop strategies for a sustainable future. TEX is working with ten of their grassroots groups to connect them with scientists who can help them better characterize neighborhood-level flood risks and work effectively with local decision makers to mitigate those risks.