From collapsing floodwalls in New Orleans to high-tech mechanical storm surge barriers in Europe, we’ll explore the 2,500-year history of keeping rivers and tides at bay by erecting levees. To get a lesson on how levees are built and why they fail, we’ll climb atop Sacramento, California’s crumbling river levees to see evidence of erosion that portends a New Orleans-level disaster. In stark contrast are the ingeniously engineered levees and dikes holding back tidal waters in the Netherlands. Their success inspired other mechanized flood barriers on both the River Thames outside London and one currently under construction near the sinking city of Venice, Italy. We’ll also take a look at the hard lessons learned when levees are breached. In New Orleans, we’ll see what the US Army Corps of Engineers is doing to protect the Crescent City from future hurricane seasons.