South Lafourche’s levees will be viewed through an unconventional eye in the coming months.
Levee District Director Windell Curole tells The Courier the district is in the early stages of working on an agreement to have its levees inspected by unmanned drone equipped with a camera operated by a local company.
“This will help us accurately see the whole picture of what is going on,” Curole said. “When you get out in a boat, the view is not all pieced together; it is in parts.”
The 48-mile levee, which protects southern Lafourche from Gulf of Mexico storms and tides, is 16 feet at its highest points and 13 feet at its lowest.
“I used to hitch a ride with people who were flying so we didn’t have to spend a lot of money,” Curole said. “Last few years, I haven’t been able to get up there as much. This could give us the full expanse of what is going on.”
The district’s levees are surrounded by a mixture of salt marsh, fresh marsh and open water in some spots. Curole said it’s necessary to regularly inspect the levee and its footprint to judge if wave action is eroding the levee’s toe and to look for other problem spots.
“Every inch of the levee has to work. If you have one hole in the boat, the boat will sink,” Curole said. “If the system fails I don’t want it to be from one point. It will have to be overtopping for miles, which could happen if we get the worst part of a bad storm. But I don’t want it to fail from just one or two weak points.”
Curole said he drives parts of the levee system at least once a week, but use of an unmanned aircraft will give a broader view without the expense of hiring a plane or helicopter.
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