JP Council votes to spend BP funds on flood, coastal protection

JP Council votes to spend BP funds on flood, coastal protection

ELMWOOD, LA (WVUE) - After reaching a compromise, the Jefferson Parish Council voted Wednesday to use millions of BP settlement dollars on coastal restoration and flood protection in extremely vulnerable areas of the parish.

Areas of lower Jefferson Parish know well the consequences of sitting outside of the levee protection system.

"Where we had homes flooding, and also graves popping," Jean Lafitte Township Mayor Tim Kerner said of last week's flooding linked to remnants of Hurricane Patricia in addressing the parish council.

Areas like Lafitte, Barataria, Crown Point and Grand Isle stay on edge because of ongoing coastal erosion problems that leave them vulnerable.

"Timmy's still putting sandbags, in Grand Isle we can't put sandbags because it washes off the beach, it just disappears," said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle, who followed Kerner in addressing the parish council.

The passionate pleas involved others, including residents and coastal protection advocates. Kerner said the council had a choice to make, one for communities like his, or against.

"You can go the other way, for every hurricane and disaster, always remember that you had a choice and you could have helped those people and you didn't," he said.

"They need the money, it's not about if, they need it," resident Linda Sanchez stated.In the end, council members voted unanimously to dedicate a chunk of the $35 million the parish realized as part of the BP settlement to help those communities fight what is eating away at their land.

Councilman Ricky Templet's resolution was the one that won approval.

"Fifteen million goes directly to coastal protection and flood protection in lower Jefferson Parish in Districts 1 and 3 and the remaining four districts in Jefferson Parish, council district get $5 million each to put in their discretionary funds," he said after the vote.

"A big win for the bayou," Kerner said.

Templet said they hope to multiply those dollars at the state and federal levels.

"And hopefully get three to one monies, I'm hoping to take this $15 million and turn it into $45 million dollars," he said.

"If we would have had the ring levee we're going to have installed now from Hurricane Juan to now nobody would have gotten a drop of water," said Kerner.

Clearly the money the council voted to send to the low-lying areas will be a big help, but it won't address all of the needs.

"I was hoping for a little more, but from where we started, we're happy," said Kerner.

Mayor Camardelle reminded the council that effects of the mammoth oil spill off Louisiana's coastline continue to be felt.

"Right now we can pick up tar balls all along the beach. I'll bring all of you all tomorrow morning," he said.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.