Coastal communities cheer Senate approval of money for flood protection

LAFITTE, LA (WVUE) - A lot of coastal Louisiana communities are celebrating tonight after the state Senate gave final approval to more than $500 million worth of coastal protection projects. Some communities are getting more than others.

The town of Jean Lafitte and Rosethorne have been plagued with as many if not more floods than any other place on the coast over the past 40 years, and word of the cash infusion for flood protection comes as welcome news.

"We know conditions are worsening all the time," said Dan Coulon of Barataria.

The state Senate on Friday approved spending $566 million on coastal protection projects, with $29 million coming to flood-prone Laffitte.

Ever since 1985 and Hurricane Juan the area seems to flood more and more with some residents being hit multiple times.

"Katrina, Rita, Ike and Juan showed us the trouble we were in," said Coulon.

The Lafitte area consists of 10 different ring levees, and the money approved today will complete two of them, protecting more than 1,000 acres. One protects the main part of town called the Fisher Basin; the other will protect Rosethorne.

"When I ran for office 27 years ago, my main goal was levees. It took a long time to see progress, but I'm feeling good now," said Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner.

The money will provide levee  protection to a height of 7.5 feet. They are not up to Army Corps of Engineers standards, but residents believe they'll be sufficient for now

"It gives you 7 1/2 feet of protection. For Juan we would've never had a drop of water," said Kerner.

But with floods appearing to get worse each year, many think the levees will eventually have to be built higher.

"I'd say that's sufficient for now but not for long," said Coulon.

Mayor Kerner isn't finished fighting for flood money. But he's confident that with investments made so far, the work will continue for years to come.

Jean Lafitte also got $820,000 to repair some of the existing levees in the measure approved by the Senate.The money comes from a variety of sources, including BP oil settlement funds.

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