Protecting People, Property and Our Way of Life

Parishes join forces on levee project

July 24, 2019
By: Julia Arenstam, HoumaToday.com

Lafourche Parish is preparing to take emergency steps to address levee problems in Pointe-aux-Chenes along with Terrebonne Parish and area levee districts. 

The council will likely hold a special meeting Thursday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the North Lafourche, South Lafourche and Terrebonne levee districts to build up the levees on the Lafourche side of Pointe-aux-Chenes.

The council did vote on a unanimous agenda item Tuesday night that will allow the parish and levee districts to proceed with permitting for the project. However, a required agreement and money for Lafourche Parish’s commitment were delayed until a later meeting.

The council was scheduled to introduce an ordinance allocating $400,000 to the project during a special meeting. However, the special meeting couldn’t be held because not enough council members were present as the meeting opened, just 15 minutes before the regular meeting.

Councilman Craig Jaccuzzo, who represents the Lafourche side of Pointe-aux-Chenes, said the project is an immediate need for the parish.

Council members who were absent for the special meeting but appeared for the regular meeting were Luci Sposito, Jerry Jones and Jerry LaFont.

Councilmen Bo Melvin and Corey Perrillioux were absent from both meetings.

Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, the attorney for and member of the Pointe-au-Chien tribe, also appealed to the council to act quickly to protect the residents.

“We are part of Lafourche Parish too,” she said. “We felt the brunt of the flooding. You have an opportunity here to help us.”

Ferguson-Bohnee asked the council to make a commitment to the people by approving the permitting and intergovernmental agreement and pay for at least $100,000.

Jones said he opposed the spending plan because it would take money from a project in his area that has been on the books for three years.

Interim Parish Administrator Tommy Lasseigne said he would work with the council to find a new money source before the special meeting is called.

The parish recently received reports of increased royalty revenue, which could be used for this project, Lasseigne said.

Terrebonne Parish Levee District Director Reggie Dupre appealed to the council to act quickly. Without the permits, the project cannot move forward, he said.

Terrebonne Parish has already set aside emergency money and has staged equipment in preparation for this project. The levee will protect residents of Terrebonne, as well as those in central and parts of north Lafourche, Dupre said.

The area needing immediate attention is a small portion of levee that was overtopped during Barry. The combined plan is to build a forced drainage, redundant levee in that area to help prevent any future flooding.

A larger project with the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system, Reaches K and L between Pointe-aux-Chenes and Cut Off, is about three years away from final completion.

Terrebonne has also enlisted the state’s help, which has delivered 15,000 linear feet of Hesco baskets to shore up other parts of the levees in that area, Dupre said.

The parish agencies are hoping FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of the costs.