New coastal plan includes floodwall across Rigolets, Chef Pass

People across North Shore praise new flooding master plan

ST. TAMMANY PARISH, LA (WVUE) - People on the North Shore are praising a new coastal plan that includes a proposal to build a floodwall across the Rigolets and Chef Pass, something that many have called for for years.

In Palm Lake subdivision south of Slidell, residents love living close to the water.

"The kids like living on the water or using the paddleboat," said Michael Bowen.

But all too often, that proximity means floodwater in their homes.

"Everybody back here knows the flooding potential. You live on the water, you're going to eventually flood," said Bowen.

Palm Lake is not the only vulnerable subdivision. With no levee protection, thousands of North Shore homes have flooded over the past 20 years when tropical storms kick up in the Gulf.

"We have been advocating for this for years," said Parish President Pat Brister.

Now residents and Parish officials praise a new plan from the state coastal protection authority that calls for a 2-foot-high floodwall to be built across the two main passes that feed waters from the Gulf into Lake Pontchartrain.

"With this amount of money, it can affect more area than any other part of the plan," said Brister.

At a proposed cost of $2.4 billion The walls would include movable gates to allow normal tides to pass through. The plan also calls for 150-foot-wide navigational gates at both passes.

While the proposed wall is welcome news, it is more of a surge diffuser than it is full flood protection against higher surges associated with big tropical storms, and some wonder if 2-foot height of the floodwalls will be enough.

"I'd rather they do nothing at all and spend the money somewhere else," said Bowen.

"Certainly I would've liked more protection than what is proposed, but we also have an issue with when you stop water in one place it goes to another," said Brister.

She said this plan may be easier for Mississippi residents worried about their coast to swallow.

"Mississippi had high concerns. Mississippi is very powerful in getting money on a federal level to do projects," said Brister.

The new plan also calls for completion of a 16-foot-tall ring levee around Slidell.

"Very excited that it's in there, also that is an area where were most vulnerable in St. Tammany Parish," said Brister.

These projects won't happen overnight. Implementation time is projected to be between one and 30 years. The new plan also calls for a mile of new levees to be built on either side of the floodwall. The price tag for the Slidell ring levee is $181 million.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.