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Proposed levee would protect Montz

By Kyle Barnett -   Sep 19, 2013

The Corps of Engineers has released a recommendation on the construction of a levee covering the west shore of Lake Pontchartrain running from Montz through St. John Parish and part of St. James Parish.

St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said he was pleased that Montz would be receiving flood protection from the nearly $900 million levee.

“This is welcome news for the residents of Montz and another piece of the puzzle in providing comprehensive storm protection for all our residents,” he said.

The flood risk of the Montz area was notable when Hurricane Isaac struck last year and local roadways were flooded for days, preventing Entergy crews from reconnecting power. That left some residents in the dark for over two weeks. Of the homes damaged in St. Charles Parish during Hurricane Isaac, Montz had the highest concentration of flooded residences.During Hurricane Isaac, St. Charles Parish government sent out a warning that Montz was the most likely area to flood, which is still true should another hurricane come through the area before the levee is constructed.

“The areas in Montz are going to have issues, but it is strictly an unblocked storm surge that is coming through,” Earl Matherne, St. Charles Parish’s coastal zone manager, said.

In addition, a levee covering the area will go a long way towards reducing potential flood insurance hikes in the community. Montz is currently the only community on the East Bank of the parish that is expected to see huge increases in flood insurance rates under the Biggert-Waters Act should newly proposed FEMA maps be accepted.

Matherne said insurance prices that are currently set to increase in the area will be kept at the lower rates they are currently at now.

“If it’s anything like the levee they have constructed on the rest of the parish, then the little bit of Montz that is going to lose X zone in the new mapping will be restored,” he said.

The study looked at three possible alignments for a proposed levee, all of which would have the same effect on the Montz area.

After looking at three alternatives, the Corps settled on alternative C for their recommendation. According to the Corps’ study, that alignment, at a cost of $881 million, would reduce the potential impact on wetlands, but does not provide as much protection to residents and structures in St. James Parish.

Despite the positive steps taken by the Corps in attempting to provide flood protection, St. Pierre said he would like to have seen a recommendation for an alternative alignment because it would provide more regional protection for residents and structures.

“I am disappointed that alignment D was not chosen as it would have offered structural protection to all three river parishes, including St. James,” St. Pierre said.  

The Corps of Engineers introduced its plan over the past few weeks at town hall meetings in St. John and St. James parishes.

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