As bulldozers pushed tons of dirt for a levee at Ellington Reach in Luling, Congressman Garret Graves told parish officials seeing work underway is the best part of the project for him.
“To see this project move to turning dirt this quick is impressive,” said Graves as worked continued behind him on the levee. “The help didn’t have to do with politics, this is the right thing to do.”
The congressman had just toured an estimated $27 million of flood protection projects under construction in St. Charles Parish, an effort Graves emphasized is needed to be more proactive in shielding residents and businesses from costly catastrophic flooding.
The parish is building a 33-mile West Bank levee and pump system to protect communities and industry from Luling to Lafourche Parish.
“Years ago, we were out here and literally, some of the areas that we’ve driven on today, some of the areas where we stood today, were under water,” Graves said.
In Washington, D.C., he said he’s working on convincing Congress that it’s substantially more cost effective to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to addressing disasters.
“We have to focus on making these communities more resilient,” he added.
Graves said making this happen requires multiple funding sources. The parish’s levees fit Graves’ proactive stance.
Parish President Larry Cochran strongly agreed with the need to be prepared for flooding.
Cochran praised Graves’ assistance with helping fund protection projects, which also helped make it possible to get these projects off the ground in less than two years.
Additionally, he said the parish tightened its belt by rolling back millage tax collections to route more money to flood protection, which he called the parish’s top priority.
Councilwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier also thanked parish residents for passing the levee tax and praised the council’s unified effort that made way for these projects.
Parish voters approved a 4-mil property tax to help pay for new flood control structures. Initially, the levee will be built 7 feet above elevation. The parish would like to see 12-and-a-half feet, but needs to raise more money to achieve 100-year storm protection.
At Friday’s tour, Graves visited the pump station at Willowridge Reach including the recently completed levee and retention pond under construction and completed T-wall tying in the Davis Diversion into the West Bank Hurricane Protection.
At Willowdale Reach, Cochran said the parish invested in a control panel that allowed running the station by cell phone.
The tour also included Ellington Reach with the levee under construction and a pump station planned for the site.
In a recent parish update on the projects, it was announced:
– Willowridge Levee Phase 1 earthen levee is complete.
– The Willowridge Pump Station pumps have been installed and final adjustments being done. Willowridge Phase III is substantially complete.
– Ellington Levee Phase I project should be done by December.
– Ellington Levee Phase 2 is nearing is in final design. The parish will advertise for bids after completion of Phase I.
– On the Magnolia Ridge levee, analysis is being done to verify the existing levee meets latest criteria. It should be complete by next month.
– At Magnolia Ridge Pump Station, funding has been awarded and currently awaiting FEMA approval to start construction.
– For Sunset Reach, the parish has acquired 21 of 30 levee servitude parcels from 27 impacted landowners.