Dulac, La. - With a shower of champagne, it became official.
The Bubba Dove flood control structure is complete.
"This is the single most significant infrastructure investment since I've been in Terrebonne since 1981," says Parish President Michel Claudet. "This will guarantee, we believe, the sustainability, the long-term survivability of Terrebonne Parish."
The Bubba Dove sits in the Houma Navigation Canal, a vital passageway to the Gulf of Mexico.
But that open passage allowed Gulf water to push up at a rapid rate during storms.
"Take Ike, the USGS reported in Dulac, Louisiana 364,000 gallons per second traveling up the navigation canal and traveling up the navigational canal into the inter costal which is towards Houma," says State Representative Gordy Dove of Houma.
"And remember, Ike was 100 miles away from us."
So Dove worked with levee, parish and state officials to get the floodgate built.
Then his son died in a car crash in March of 2009.
"Little did we know that when you named it the Bubba Dove barge, there wasn't anybody gonna stop this thing from being built," says Tony Alford of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District. "Because Gordy was at every meeting, he was calling me every morning, he was wanting to know who was trying to stop it and why, when and where and so I think that's a big reason we got this thing built as soon as we did."
The floodgate is just the beginning. Crews are right now building levees on both sides of it to better protect the communities of Dulac and Dularge.
All of the work is being funded without federal help.
Terrebonne voters twice approved a sales tax that generates money for storm protection.
"By four or five years from now, I predict we will have a half a billion dollars of flood protection in this parish with all state and local funds," says Reggie Dupre of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District.
The biggest project serves as a giant tribute to this community and a beloved son.
"My whole life was turned over," says Dove. "To have this barge named after him was just an honor to keep his name going on."