The Federal Emergency Management Administration has declared the New Orleans area levee system accredited, clearing the way for the improved storm surge protection to be incorporated into National Flood Insurance Program flood maps, which should eventually lead to reduced flood insurance rates.
Thursday's announcement came in a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers from Frank Pagano, mitigation director for FEMA's Region 6 office in Texas.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter released the letter late Thursday. He says the letter certifies that the integrated system of levees, floodwalls and gates provides Southeast Louisiana residents protection against a 100-year storm.
Corps' spokesman Ken Holder says the improvements have cost about $11.8 billion so far.