Gulf Coast prepared for Isaac with the world's largest water pump

Tropical Storm Isaac is set to touch down Tuesday night south of New Orleans, stirring up worry and remembrance of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago. But Christopher Helman, a contributor with Forbes, contends that the city is far-better prepared post-Katrina due to more than $15 billion worth of new levees, pumps, walls and gates built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Chief of these improvements: The world's largest water pump. Installed on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, this thing is a beast. It can suck 150,000 gallons per second out of New Orleans and blow it back into the sea. According to Popular Science:

When a major storm threatens, the waterway’s new West Closure Complex will mount a two-point defense. First, operators will shut the 32-foot-tall, 225-foot-wide metal gates to block the surge. Then they’ll fire up the world’s largest pumping station, which pulls 150,000 gallons of floodwater per second. And unlike the city’s notorious levees, the WCC won’t break when residents need it most. “This station is designed to withstand almost everything,” including 140mph winds and runaway barges," says Tim Connell, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’s project manager for the complex.

Helman reports that the Corps has also repaired many of the old pump stations as well. The new defenses definitely provide some peace of mind. And as Helman notes, hopefully Tropical Storm Isaac provides the city with nothing more than a little test run.

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