Tag Archive | infrastructure resilience

New Orleans Achieves Stronger Infrastructure Resilience thru the IHNC Surge Barrier

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier

The catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 provide many lessons on infrastructure resilience. The threat of storm surges remains because of the city’s average elevation level is six feet (or almost 2 meters) below sea level and being bodies of water surround the city.

In 2005, the 28-foot storm surge that Hurricane Katrina created left some areas of New Orleans flooded. There were breaches on the floodwall due to foundation failure and water over topping the levees.

Learning from Hurricane Katrina experience, New Orleans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System embarked on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier or IHNC Surge Barrier project.

Its construction begun in 2008, and with an aggressive four-year timeline to beat. Despite many complications and technical challenges, the barrier was completed ahead of time in 2011. Construction cost reached $1.1 billion. It’s was a simultaneous design and build civil work project.

The IHNC Lake Borgne Surge Barrier is one of the largest civil works project designed and constructed in the US Army Corp’s history. It extends through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet near New Orleans.

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier

It was designed to reduce the effect of storm surge and prevents damage to the most vulnerable areas around New Orleans. The barrier specifically protects the surrounding area against storm surge coming from the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Borgne.

The structure consists of three gates that allow vessel passage through a concrete barrier wall, 10,000 feet long and 26 feet high. There’s a complete floodwall closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. The Seabrook Floodgate was also constructed, another navigation gate in the vicinity of Seabrook that meets and blocks possible storm surge from the Lake Ponchartrain.

With the breaches repaired and fortified, the level of protection in New Orleans is much better than any time in their entire history. The New Orlean’s surge barrier proved its mettle and served its purpose when Hurricane Isaac came in August 2012.

With its complex structural design, the edifice stands as an infrastructure resilience landmark.  This year, the infrastructure garnered the 2014 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Achieving 100-year storm criteria, IHNC is now considered the model of floodgate and floodwall designs all over the world. Now an infrastructure resilience icon, the IHNC Surge Barrier has become the pride of Louisiana and the US.

Calamities will continue to challenge civilization but with infrastructure management experts providing resilience plans and strategies, risks are significantly reduced.

PHOTO CREDIT: Seacity2100; American Society of Civil Engineers

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Renewable Energy Projects Key To Infrastructure Resilience in Disaster Areas of the Philippines?

Solar Panel at Bayas, Estancia 2

Infrastructure ResilienceWhen Typhoon Yolanda battered Northern Iloilo on 8 November, it brought much havoc to Estancia, including Bayas Island, which is 8 kilometers off the town.

Amidst the surrounding destruction in the island, the solar panel that Central Philippine University Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (CPU-AREC) installed in 2001 remains standing and functioning.

Typhoon Yolanda blew off four of its solar panels but the installation remains intact. Thus, the village folks are able to charge their batteries after the storm.

In 2001, CPU-AREC implemented the Department of Energy’s ‘O-Ilaw Program’, a barangay electrification program (BEP).

Infrastructure Resilience

They were coordinating with Centralian, Peal Martin Ruiz who was with DOE at that time and in-charge of the BEP projects in three of Estancia’s island barangays – Loguingot, Manipulon and Bayas.

According to Engr. Jeriel Militar, CPU-AREC Program Manager, in small island barangays like Bayas where there are no water source for micro-hydro, they installed the PV-BCS (PV-Barangay Charging Stations).

He said that part of the program was providing storage batteries to households, which they repay on installment basis.

The households use batteries for lighting and using small appliances. They recharge their batteris at the PV-BCS.

Engr. Militar said that eventually, not only the households came to recharge their batteries. Motorboat owners also used the PV-BCS for recharging their fishing boat’s batteries.


In Badiangan, a mountain barangay of Ajuy, Iloilo, the micro-hydro power plant that CPU-AREC installed in 2004 has become an example of infrastructure resilience.

Surviving the storm, it continues to provide electricity for its member-consumers.

Ajuy is one of the towns in Northern Iloilo that suffered the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda. It will take three months or more for electricity to be restored in Ajuy.

Engr. Militar said that a resident of Badiangan told him that those residents who transferred to ILECO III (local power supplier) wanted to rejoin the micro-hydro power group.


In Sebaste, one of the typhoon-affected towns of Antique, the loss of power made some people go to Sitio Igpatuyao to charge their mobile phones.

The micro-hydro power plant that CPU-AREC helped build at Sitio Igpatuyao in 2009 withstood the storm and is functioning fully.


The CPU-AREC (formerly CPU-ANEC) has been in the forefront for renewable energy development and application in Western Visayas and some areas in the Philippines since 1996.

They have accomplished 78 projects, which include 44 solar systems, 2 wind-solar hybrids, and 1 micro-hydro-solar hybrid.

The aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda resulted into failure of infrastructure systems like potable water, highways and electric power. Without these infrastructures functioning well, the recovery process will be slow.

With CPU-AREC’s renewable energy projects showing infrastructure resilience after Typhoon Yolanda, perhaps the government and private sectors should consider including the putting up of renewable energy projects in their rebuild plans.


INFORMATION CREDIT: Engr. Jeriel Militar
PHOTO CREDIT: Marigold Jutare