I read a lot of articles like this one after Gustav talking about how the levees passed their first test, but also exposed the flaws in the levees. It seems to me like Ike ended up having a much higher storm surge than Gustav. Ike forced the closure of the 17th Street and London Avenue Canals much earlier than Gustav.
I was off early Friday, so I decided to take a little trip to the Lakefront.
Sure enough, the floodgates were down.
I noticed that only 1 pump was in operation. It turned out to be one of the Moving Water Industries pumps (which were the subject of much controversy when they were purchased). Now, as an engineer, I have to point out that water coming out of the pipe doesn't let them off the hook. The pumps might not be operating to their design curve and there's still questions about the purchasing of the pumps, but they did work when the Corps needed them to.
You can visually tell the water level outside the gates is much higher than on a normal day. Here's a photo I took a while back for comparison:
Notice the water level on the discharge pipes for comparison.
I also swung by the 17th Street Canal, which is much more important for the city. Unfortunately, the site is very cramped and due to the storm surge, you can't walk around it as well as you can with the London Avenue Canal, so I can't tell what's going on as well. It was so windy, I couldn't even tell how many pumps (if any) were in operation.
Looking back towards the city, the level looked awfully high:
Here's the rest of the photo set.