National Park Service Tests 17th St. Levee

Tom Sherwood

- NBC Washington

The National Park Service tested a levee designed to protect the White House and downtown D.C. from flooding Tuesday.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers accelerated construction of the long planned 17th Street levee near Constitution Avenue.

“Seventeenth Street is one of the low points in the city and is prone to flooding,” said Michael Litterest of the National Park Service. “So the levee goes up, and it will keep the floodwaters of the Potomac River out of the commercial area, out of the federal triangle area -- the important downtown area.”

In 2006, Constitution Avenue and many federal buildings were flooded by just heavy rain.

Now the 17th Street levee is put up and taken down at least once a year to make sure the piece fit.

“Basically just to ensure, that if called upon in an emergency, we know exactly what to do and exactly how to get it done,” Litterest said.

The reinforced aluminum and steel levee is stored on trucks in Bladensburg, Maryland, ready to be assembled within a few hours.