Work delayed on Larose floodwall

The flood wall in Larose after Hurricane Isaac
The flood wall in Larose after Hurricane Isaac

Larose, La. - Everything seemed to be moving forward just fine. The South Lafourche Levee District bought the right of ways around a flood wall in Larose and was preparing to move some power lines.

Then, District Director Windell Curole says he got notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"To hold back, because there was a question from their attorneys as to whether they could even do the work. So now everything's on standstill until the attorneys give an answer one way or the other," says Curole.

Now, nothing is going on to elevate the flood wall that spans Highway 657.

The $5 million project would raise the wall from about 8 feet to 13 feet, strengthening a critical stretch of the Larose-to-Golden Meadow system.

"Let's say a 10-foot storm surge comes in and we've stopped the water from getting in the system, the whole 48 miles," says Curole. "Here we have this half a mile of wall that's at 8 feet and the whole system floods because of that."

The area did flood when Hurricane Juan barreled ashore in 1985 before the flood wall existed. Octavia Breaux remembers it well.

"I had about a foot I guess and then on the outside," she says. "I measured by the fence, it was about 4 feet."

Hurricane Isaac last year brought a 6-foot storm surge to the flood wall, but everything inside it stayed dry.

Curole says he's determined to move forward with the project, even if that means going on without help from the Corps.

A spokesperson for the Corps says it still intends to be part of the project. But construction has been delayed because water is seeping in through the wall and engineers can't figure out why.

With no progress being made, Curole worries about what the next hurricane season could bring. And the current one isn't over yet.

"They consider a win is building the project," he says. "We consider a win is not flooding, and sometimes that's two different things."