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Independent engineers must guide rebuild say civils

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AN INDEPENDENT federally funded advisory panel of experts should oversee the long term reconstruction of New Orleans, American civil engineers have said.

It would ensure higher flood defence standards are enforced and reconcile the demands of federal and state governments with those of local people.

'The panel would be made up of engineers, architects, planners, environmentalists and other design and construction related fields, ' said American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) engineering programme managing director John Durrant.

'The objective is to make sure the reconstruction results in a more sustainable, more durable environment that will be better able to cope with future extreme events.' Durrant said the sort of measures that would be put forward by the proposed reconstruction advisory panel would include raising the levels of protection to Dutch standards 'At the very least, any new defences should be designed for a 500 year storm, ' he added. Dutch flood defences are currently built to withstand one in 10,000 year events.

Hurricane debris should be recycled as building material as much as possible, and new buildings should be energy efficient and sustainable, he said.

The very devolved US federal system means bodies from government down to local parishes will have a say in the redevelopment.

This will make any attempts to co-ordinate the reconstruction effort 'an enormous task', Durrant said.

'But much of the necessary funding will come from the federal government, which gives it considerable influence, ' he added.

Proposals for an advisory panel were developed after a meeting in Washington, which involved a number of non-governmental organisations.

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