Lessons Learned in New Orleans Being Taught in Arkansas

AUGUST 28, 2006 - Posted at 8:57 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A lesson learned painfully at New Orleans a year ago when Hurricane Katrina hit is now being taught in Arkansas, and officials of towns and counties along the Arkansas River are feeling the pinch.

They're facing the costs of assuring the levees along the river meet standards for preventing floods, as they didn't at New Orleans, where the result was thousands of destroyed homes.

Van Buren City Engineer Brad Baldwin says the requirement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency came out of left field for local officials along the river.

FEMA is requiring communities and levee districts to certify that their levees meet current design and construction standards, as part of the agency's flood insurance rate map modernization.  It's the first time local officials in Arkansas have had to go through such a certification.

Baldwin said neither FEMA nor the Army Corps of Engineers, which supervises operationsa along navigable rivers, has budgeted money for the certifications.  That means cities or levee districts are having to bear the burden.

Van Buren Mayor John Riggs said the cost of certifying Crawford County's levees could be as high as a million dollars.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)