The Army Corps of Engineers is working quickly to get contractors moving to dewater the greater New Orleans area. By Sept. 6, Shaw Industries and KBR were awarded broad-range contracts, says Corps spokesman Chuck Camillo. "Contracts are being let out of our Memphis district office."

The Corps estimates it will take 36 to 80 days to dewater each of the four delineated impoundment areas, once the city’s drainage pumps are operational.

Inundated. Pumping stations need help to begin work. (Photo by Michael Goodman for ENR)

The areas and the estimated volume of stored water at the crest are: Orleans East Bank, 110,000 acre ft; New Orleans East, 177,000 acre ft; St. Bernard north, 110,000 acre ft; and St. Bernard south, 217,000 acre ft.

On Sept. 6, the operational status of installed pumps remained grim. For instance, the Orleans East Bank impoundment area includes 10 pump stations with a total capacity of 40,350 cfs. Of those 10, only one was partially operational.

The pivotal factor in the timetable is restoring the installed pumps to peak operation. It hinges on when scores of portable pumps are able to clear enough water to gain access to the city’s pumps. Existing pumps will be put back online as they are dewatered, inspected and repaired.

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