The extensive damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina to the levee system that protects New Orleans and its surrounding communities in southeast Louisiana from flooding, set in motion a massive levee restoration effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including plans for armoring to prevent future levee failures.
In an effort to evaluate constructability, vegetative characteristics and potential maintenance issues associated with various products considered for use on future levee armoring projects, the Corps of Engineers chose the mat casting yard in St. Francisville, LA, as the site for a product demonstration project.
Multiple products were installed on the crest and protected side slope of the containment levee, protecting the mat casting yard and facilities from Mississippi River floodwaters. Because the ArmorFlex tapered block has - through extensive full scale testing at Colorado State University - proven to have superior performance characteristics in extreme hydraulic conditions, the ArmorFlex Class 40T articulating concrete block (ACB) mats were selected as one of the tested products. In addition to its superior hydraulic performance, the open cell Class 40T provides for vegetation without compromising maintainability – three primary considerations for the planned levee armoring applications.
Subsequent to the establishment of vegetation and execution of planned maintenance investigative activities, the Mississippi River achieved above normal flood stages that overtopped the containment levee at the demonstration site, unexpectedly exposing the ArmorFlex mats to substantial overtopping flow. “We are very satisfied with how well the matting has held up under the extreme weather conditions and flooding that have since occurred on the levee,” stated Bruce Harrell of B & P Enterprises.