Judge rules Lafarge barge did not cause Katrina flooding

A story reported on InsuranceJournal.com said that a federal judge ruled that a barge that landed on top of several homes in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans did not cause the floodwall to break during Hurricane Katrina. U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. of New Orleans exonerated Lafarge North America Inc. of negligence for a series of decisions made before and during the 2005 hurricane. Some residents claimed the barge caused two breaches in the eastern floodwall along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal.

The barge was washed out of the canal and landed on several houses after the floodwall gave way during Katrina. Still, the judge said Lafarge employees could have done more to prevent the damage from the barge. He said the barge was moored poorly and faulted the company for not having a hurricane plan or a properly licensed VHF marine radio. Still, the judge sided with the defense which argued that the winds would have driven the barge toward the west side of the canal at the time of the canal breach. The breaches opened up on the east side of the canal. Duval also said there was ample evidence that the floodwalls gave way due to poor designs, the permeability of the soil, underseepage, and the increased loading caused by the storm surge. Duval said the barge was lifted by the storm surge after the floodwalls broke and was sucked through the breach before coming to rest atop houses along Jourdan Avenue.

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