LAFITTE, LA (WVUE) - A coastal community broke ground Friday on what it calls its first-ever levee protection system. Ultimately, 10 ring levees will encircle parts of southern Jefferson Parish.
Under the glaring sun, even brighter smiles lit the faces of those wielding shovels. A sharp contrast to the dismal, flooded conditions that many hope they won't see again.
Jeanine Guidry said, "My grandmother, son, aunts, uncles, mother-in-law - everybody had flooded once or twice."
Guidry is a life-long member of the Lafitte community. She said, "I remember for Juan my grandmother lost everything she had, and she just cried 'til she had no voice and that's been going on for the last 30 years.
Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner is ecstatic that progress is finally beginning on ring levees that promise to protect residents from a 7-foot tidal surge. Kerner said, "I always felt like I was failing this community because I ran in 1991 to provide levees for this community and 23 years later all we had was one little 6.8-foot, million dollar levee."
Jefferson Parish Councilman-at-Large Chris Roberts said all the money spent on cleanup and insurance claims over the years far exceeds the $44 million cost of the entire project. Roberts said, "When you look at the cost of this levee system, if we would have had a seven foot surge protection levee our people would have never, ever flooded not one time."
Councilman Ricky Templet said, "It's a historic, ground-breaking day, not just for Jefferson Parish, but the citizens of Lafitte and the people who live down here."
Guidry said, "This is a good start. I'm glad they started. I don't think people understand that once Lafitte's gone, then New Orleans is next and then the next city."