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Levee Repairs Begin in New Orleans

At least one critical breach in the New Orleans (search) levee system will be repaired by the end of the day Thursday, but a second section will take longer because workers are having trouble getting equipment and material to that part of the swamped city, according to the Army Corps of Engineers (search).

Lt. Gen. Carl Strock, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, told reporters that a large breach in the 17th Street Canal (search) levee in New Orleans should be filled in Thursday, the first in what will be a long and costly effort to repair the city's levee system.

"Once we seal those two places, that should stop the water from going in," said Strock. "Our real focus right now is getting the flow stopped so we can get in and drain the city."

Walter Baumy, chief of the Corps' engineering division for the New Orleans district, said contractors were using sheet pile walls to try to close the front of the canal. "We're pretty confident that's going to get finished today," he said Thursday. "The sheet pile will close the canal to the lake."

However, he said, engineers were still unable to get to the levee break at Industrial Canal.

Baumy said they were trying to get pumping stations working so they could move material and workers to the breaches.