St. Charles Herald-Guide

Council will decide fate of Sunset Drainage levee improvement projects

By Jonathan Menard - June 27, 2013

The St. Charles Parish Council will once again tackle an ordinance introduced by Councilman Paul Hogan who says it would improve the Sunset Drainage District levee enough to lower flood rates for residents in Des Allemands, Bayou Gauche and Paradis.

The vote was delayed last meeting due to discrepancies in the price for the four projects included in the ordinance. Hogan maintains that construction can be completed for around $10 million, while the St. Charles Parish administration said the cost would be closer to $40 million.

Hogan said he will make a motion for the issue to be taken off the table and discussed at the July 1 meeting.

Current FEMA flood maps recognize the Sunset Drainage District levee, but a proposed map would not. The levee has been in place for nearly 100 years and residents in the area say they have never flooded before.

The majority of the homes built within the district were constructed at a minimum height of 12 feet above the street in accordance with parish requirements, Hogan said. New base flood elevations proposed by FEMA are well above the finish floor elevation of the majority of homes in the district. Because of that, many residents in the area are faced with premium rate increases that could have some paying nearly $30,000 per year in flood insurance.

Hoganís ordinance seeks to close the Sunset levee by construction of a replacement bulkhead in Des Allemands along Bayou Des Allemands. He also wants the parish to construct a floodwall along Badeaux Lane East with a floodgate crossing LA 306. The floodwall would then tie into the levee.

The ordinance also calls for a hump in Highway 90 near the Paradis Canal to elevate the levee and raising the crown of the Sunset Drainage District to the proposed base flood elevation.

Hogan said these projects would lower flood insurance rates for residents in his district and the money to complete them would come out of the West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee fund, which has a current balance of $27 million. However, parish officials say all of that money is currently needed to construct the Willowridge levee in Luling.

Nearly 30 residents from Des Allemands, Bayou Gauche and Paradis spoke in favor of Hoganís ordinance at the last meeting and all should return to pack the Council Chambers once again. Only two residents from Luling spoke against the ordinance, saying they have waited 20 years for a Willowridge levee and need the $10 million to construct the project.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the council chambers on the second floor of the St. Charles Parish Courthouse.

Councilman Paul Hogan
Councilman Paul Hogan