Jeff Masters Weather Blog

She was a teen when Katrina hit. Now she helps manage New Orleans’ water » Yale Climate Connections

New Orleans native Meagan Williams was 16 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

She recalls seeing the damage to her aunt’s house, even a few months after the storm.

“Every single window had blown out of the house,” she says. “And the water line is maybe an inch from the top of the ceiling. Every single thing is caked in mud and mold. … And that’s kind of when the wheels started turning … I pretty distinctly remember telling my mom that day some version of, ‘I want to help,’ — no idea what that meant.”

Ever since then, she’s been learning about the power of water and how to help her city deal with it.

She became a civil engineer. And today she works for New Orleans’ office of resilience and sustainability as the urban water program manager.

She helps design and implement a range of strategies for managing excess water in the city — including green infrastructure solutions such as rain gardens and detention ponds.

Williams says as the climate warms, intense rain storms are growing increasingly common in New Orleans.

“It’s like somebody just poured a bucket from the sky on top of us all at one time,” she says. “These are our everyday summer storms, and they’re becoming more and more frequent.”

So she’s committed to helping protect New Orleans residents from dangerous flooding.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media

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