New Orleans is 6 feet below sea level, on average. The highest elevation that New Orleans reaches is only around 20 feet above sea level.
New Orleans is located between the levees of the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. This position makes the city very vulnerable to flooding during storms, and it is also difficult to get water out of the area after heavy rainfall. New Orleans' position also contributes to its susceptibility to severe damage during power surges. The best natural defenses against storms are wetlands and barrier islands. However, New Orleans is not surrounded by either, worsening the effects that strong storms have on the city.