The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has accredited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS).

Work on the HSDRRS started in 2006, and while the major projects are complete, work will continue into 2017, says HSDRRS spokesman Rene Poche.

To date, the Corps has obligated $11.8 of a total $14.45 billion for work on the HSDRRS, which includes 448 construction contracts. To date, 389 contracts have been awarded, and 338 completed using a mix of design build and early contractor involvement methods for the construction. Six public laws are providing the $14.45 billion in funding.

“The federal levee system will be represented on the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) as reducing risk within Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Plaquemines parishes,” Poche says. “FEMA issued the accreditation following a formal and comprehensive process, after which the agency determined that the HSDRRS levee improvements will reduce the risk from the effects associated with a 100-year storm.”

Poche adds that this is the first time that the greater New Orleans area will have a certified and accredited system in place that can defend against a 100-year storm surge.

“This accomplishment is significant in that it validates the work done not only by the Corps, but also by our partners at the State of Louisiana, in the five parish area for which this system reduces risk, the levee districts and the army of private contractors that mobilized to meet the challenge of completing the system and getting it ready for this accreditation in record time.”

The HSDRRS system includes nearly 133 miles of levees, floodwalls, gated structures and pump stations have been strengthened and improved.

“Construction of surge barriers at Lake Borgne, Seabrook, the New Orleans Outfall Canals and West Closure Complex have pushed the line of defense outside of the city, effectively removing about 68 miles of interior levees and floodwalls from exposure to storm surge,” Poche says.

The remaining contracts include the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Damage Reduction Project (SELA), the Permanent Canal Closures & Pump Stations, the New Orleans to Venice/Non-Federal levee project, the Mississippi River Levees, Mitigation and Armoring.