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The greatest natural threat posed to the New Orleans area is from hurricane-induced storm surges, waves, and rainfalls. A hurricane surge that can inundate coastal lowlands is the most destructive characteristic of hurricanes and accounts for most of the lives lost from hurricanes. Hurricane surge heights along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts can exceed 20 feet. The effects of Hurricane Katrina flooded a large part of New Orleans and breeched the levees that are part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Lake Pontchartrain, and Vicinity, Louisiana Hurricane Protection Project. This project, first authorized in 1965, was designed to protect the lowlands in the Lake Pontchartrain tidal basin from flooding by hurricane-induced sea surges and rainfall. GAO is providing information on (1) the purpose and history of the Lake Pontchartrain, and Vicinity, Louisiana Hurricane Protection Project and (2) funding of the project. GAO is not making any recommendations in this testimony.

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