Rebuilding New Orleans Infastructure

Nearly every levee in New Orleans was breached by the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina. Eighty percent of the city was underwater. As CBS News correspondent Don Teague reports, rebuilding the infrastructure is an enormous challenge.

It's a massive construction project. The Army Corps of Engineers is spending $14.3 billion to bolster the New Orleans hurricane protection system. But in the Lower Ninth Ward, residents in the area hardest by Katrina aren't convinced it will work.

"Do I feel safe do I think the Corps of Engineers has done enough to protect this city and protect this area? No." said New Orleans Councilman Jon Johnson, a Democrat.

But Col. Robert Sinkler, the man in charge of the Corps construction effort says residents can be confident in the project dubbed Defense in Depth which will be complete next year.

Complete Coverage: Katrina Five Years Later

The overhauled protection system will battle future hurricane flooding in three ways: first, with barriers to block the primary paths that storm surge can enter the city - from Lake Ponchartrain, the Mississippi River, and Lake Borgne.

Part of what the Corps of Engineers is doing is building their lines of defense as far away from the city of New Orleans as possible. The billion-dollar surge barrier is being constructed 12 miles from downtown New Orleans and 9 miles from the Lower Ninth Ward.

Along with blocking storm surge, the Corps has fortified the levees that failed in Katrina. They're building massive new levees that are anchored more than 100 feet below ground - and tall enough not to be overtopped by storm surge.

"We are raising, strengthening, improving the levee systems that were in place," said Col. Robert Sinkler Commander, Hurricane Protection Office. "So we went from something that had an elevation of 14 feet around St. Bernard Parish to something that is an elevation of 32 ft."

Finally, the Corps is storm-proofing existing pumping stations and building the largest new flood pump in the world - to quickly blast out any water that gets into the city.

A system residents here hope is never tested by another storm.