A levee that would protect St. John the Baptist Parish and Montz has taken the next step toward completion and is currently awaiting an Army Corps of Engineers chief’s report.
The announcement of a pending chief’s report, which is needed before the estimated $900 million in funding can be provided by congress, comes more than a year after the Corps released a recommendation on the construction of a levee in the area.
After the completion of the report in December, the project will go into a review period. In the meantime, local and state entities will be able to begin work on the project and will be reimbursed at a later date.
The flood risk of the Montz area and St. John the Baptist Parish was notable when Hurricane Isaac struck in 2012, inundating the area and causing flooding in thousands of homes. Local roadways in St. Charles Parish were also flooded for days, which prevented Entergy crews from reconnecting power in the area and blackouts lasted for more than two weeks.
Of the homes damaged in St. Charles Parish during Hurricane Isaac, Montz had the highest concentration of flooded residences.
Following flooding in the area, President Barack Obama visited LaPlace and promised to get flood protection enacted in an expedited fashion.
Natalie Robottom, St. John the Baptist Parish president, was standing next to the Obama when he vowed to help two years ago.
“I don’t remember anything about it except that he said he wanted this project done. That is all I remember. It was amazing to be next him, but all I can recall him saying this is an important project and we have to do whatever we can to make sure this never happens again,” she said.
River Region Chamber of Commerce members saw proof of Obama’s vow when they visited Washington, D.C. in their annual fly-in last week.
“He has a picture in the White House of Natalie and them standing in the water looking up. It is in the White House, he sees it every day,” Nathan Stein, River Region Chamber of Commerce chairman, said.
Both St. John and St. Charles parishes will get a chance to jumpstart the project when the chief’s report is concluded in December. At that time they can enter into a memorandum of understanding with the federal government in order to be reimbursed for funds they expend on the project preceding the allocation of federal dollars. The local efforts could also be backed up by funds provided by levee boards and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
However, there is a slight possibility that Obama may allocate the funds himself, which Robottom said would be the best possible outcome.
In any case, it appears the soonest any flood protection can be put in place in the area will be by the 2017 hurricane season.
“Whatever pot of money [the funds] come from, that is the one we want. We are working them all,” Robottom said.