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Levee Breach Results in Damage to New Orleans' Sewage System

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina, an intense Category 3 storm, breached the City of New Orleans' levee system, causing catastrophic damages throughout the City's infrastructure.

… Without your both professional and personal expertise in these kinds of matters of recovery that requires such a depth of experience and knowledge, our efforts would not have garnered such immediate success given the scope and complexity of so many of the issues we have had to deal with. …

Your exceptional work and dedication to our cause is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten.

Jason Higginbotham, CEM, LEM
Director of Emergency Management
Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans


The City of New Orleans’ sewage pumping stations sustained devastating flood damage as a result of being submerged for an extended period of time in brackish water, rendering the City uninhabitable until temporary pumps could be brought online. For years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, these “temporary” pumps continued to keep the city’s sewage system operating.


During FEMA’s Public Assistance recovery process, attempts were made by the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans to elevate and harden the sewage pumping stations according to FEMA’s 406 Hazard Mitigation policy.

Due to the limitations of the 406 Hazard Mitigation policies, several pumping stations did not qualify for the much-needed funding to elevate the damaged stations.

In order to apply for 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding to elevate the sewage pumping stations, the Sewerage and Water Board needed — and did not have — an approved Hazard Mitigation Plan on file.

Solutions Applied

The Sewerage and Water Board tasked Adjusters International with writing a 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program application to elevate the most vulnerable sewage pumping stations.

The strategic decision was made to file the HMGP application using the City of New Orleans as the formal applicant rather than the Sewerage Board, as the city’s approved mitigation plan covered the sewage system. In the application, the team requested a “phased” project in which the Phase 1 funding would cover the preparation of all the required documentation for the grant application.


Adjusters International’s 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program team prepared the application to elevate eight sewage pumping stations. After an extensive process, including the continued submittal of requested documentation and working closely with the State of Louisiana, the completed grant application for Phase 1 was submitted.

In February 2009, FEMA approved the City of New Orleans’ application and the funding under Phase 1, providing 10 percent of the total project cost for all the pre-construction activities, including engineering studies, designs, permitting and detailed cost estimating.

In the end, more than $10 million was awarded by FEMA for the elevation of the eight sewage pumping stations.

*Adjusters International's (AI) disaster preparedness and recovery services are now provided under the Tidal Basin name. AI's adjusting services continue to be delivered by their licensed regional public adjusting firms, under the Adjusters International umbrella.