St. Charles Herald-Guide

West bank of parish needs quick attention

Our View - March 15, 2006

Residents of the west bank of St. Charles Parish can take solace in the fact that there is still some acreage left between its southernmost subdivisions and the Gulf of Mexico. But this stretch of deteriorating wetlands is all that stands between their inundation when a hurricane comes.

If a category 3 to 5 hurricane hits in the right spot, it could turn the area into another St. Bernard Parish. That has made Parish President Albert Laque very concerned about the lack of attention to our potential predicament by the powers that be in the federal government.

Present timetable calls for two or more years before a levee is in place that would protect the west bank against a category three hurricane. And, right now, most of that would be paid for by local taxation.

Yet the U. S. Army Corps of Engineeers has stymied local efforts to build it. Many years ago, it turned down a parish effort to build a straight-line levee on donated land that could have been completed by now. Objection was that it embraced some wetlands even though most wetlands in Louisiana need some protection themselves in order to survive from becoming open waters.

Where would the wetlands of the Barataria Basin be today if we did not have levees along the coast at Grand Isle and Grand Terre? In fact, leveeing our entire coast would be the greatest safeguard our wetlands could have.

But, at this point, the quickest way to get a levee in place is to put it where the Corps wants it, which is right up against the subdivisions. And hopefully we will not have to withstand the ferociousness of a category 3 to 5 hurricane before that time arrives.