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Katrina breach sites nominated for National Register of Historic Places

By Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 11:08 AM EST, Fri January 27, 2012
The Lower Ninth Ward, seen here in 2010, lies next to the repaired Industrial Canal levee wall in New Orleans.
The Lower Ninth Ward, seen here in 2010, lies next to the repaired Industrial Canal levee wall in New Orleans.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The two nominated sites caused most of the flooding in New Orleans
  • Many state and local officials support the initiative to have the sites recognized
  • The National Register of Historic Places recognize places worthy of preservation

(CNN) -- A grassroots group is pushing to have the sites of two levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The group's founder said Thursday that the mission is to change the belief that the storm caused the flooding in New Orleans after Katrina struck in 2005, killing hundreds across six states, with a majority of fatalities in Louisiana.

"It was engineering failure," said Sandy Rosenthal, who also serves as the director of the group, Levees.org.

The two nominated sites, which caused most of the flooding in New Orleans, are the 17th Street Canal and the Industrial Canal near the Lower 9th Ward, which is owned by the corps.

Levees.org filed a nomination in August requesting the two sites be designated as national historic sites.

2007: Filming memories of the storm

The New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers said it's following the nomination process, but is concerned about the impact it will have on future levee lifts.

"There is no need to worry ... we are not nominating the levees and floodwalls, we are nominating the site," Rosenthal said.

Many state and local officials support the initiative to have the sites recognized, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office and the city of New Orleans.

The 39-page application was reviewed by a state preservation panel on November 17, where it was struck down 6-3.

The Corps' federal preservation officer has 60 days from the date the office receives the nomination for review. According to the corps, they have the ability to approve, request additional information or make changes.

The state office of historic preservation, which is under the jurisdiction of the lieutenant governor's office, will work with Levees.org to address concerns by the corps preservation officer and rework the application if necessary.

It is unknown whether the corps federal reservation officer has received the application, according to Jacques Berry, spokesman for the lieutenant governor's office.

Once the corps preservation officer gets the application, a response is due in 60 days.

The National Park Service will make the final decision if the corps and Levees.org agree on the eligibility and the supporting documents for the nomination.

The National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966 to recognize places worthy of preservation nationwide.

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