Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish OKs St. Bernard Levee Plan

January 20, 2010

Resolving what could have been a four-month delay to a crucial piece of the levee system around St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, the Plaquemines Parish Council has approved a plan for a small stretch of the project to cross into Plaquemines.

The issued revolved around a mile-long sliver of the Chalmette Loop Levee system, a 20-mile ring of concrete walls meant to reduce flood risks in St. Bernard Parish from a so-called 100-year hurricane.

The end result is an improved levee system for St. Bernard Parish but one that leaves out the east bank of Plaquemines.

St. Bernard Councilmen Wayne Landry and Fred Everhardt attended the Plaquemines meeting last week, assuring them that they would lobby for Plaquemines to also receive 100-year levee protection.

Several St. Bernard officials were concerned that the Plaquemines council might not sign off on the plan, but ultimately members said they did not want to harm their neighbors in St. Bernard.

The 100-year levee alignment approved by Congress has ignited controversy on both the east and west banks of Plaquemines Parish. Although St. Bernard, Orleans, Jefferson and St. Charles parishes are included in the 100-year improvements, the vast majority of Plaquemines is left out.

At the Plaquemines meeting, Landry pointed out that even without the council’s approval, the corps would eventually get the land rights secured in Plaquemines. But the delay could put the project behind schedule by as much as three to four months, potentially putting St. Bernard at risk for another hurricane season in 2011.

“It was overwhelmingly obvious that they were extremely passionate and sincere about protecting Plaquemines Parish,” Landry said. “I realize this is kind of bittersweet, that they’re not getting the flood protection system and we are, but at the end of the day they did the right thing.”

Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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