MANDEVILLE, La. (WVUE) - There was standing room only in Mandeville’s council chambers Wednesday (Sept. 18), as residents spoke for and against the city’s proposal to raise the lakefront seawall by a foot.
“I’m not opposed to a one foot. I think it’s a great idea,” Cathy Hood said.
But not everyone shared her optimism.
“I find it hard to believe with the data that I’ve seen,” Dennis Pillotte said. “FEMA insurance in Louisiana and living close to the lake, they don’t bend much with that.”
The proposal aims to reduce high water in the flood-prone area around Lakeshore Drive, where Cathy Hood lives.
“It’s a hardship, when we had this last storm come in,” Hood said. “It’s a big hardship when you have a large acre of land.”
According to Mayor Donald Villere, the addition to the seawall will lower flood insurance rates for many homes and businesses. Early renderings by city engineers show raising the seawall will change the special flood hazard areas from V zones to A zones.
“For those that live in the velocity zone, their insurance premium is three, four times those that do not live in the velocity zone,” Villere explained.
He said the proposal is not about preventing flooding because raising the seawall won’t stop it.
"We're still going to have nuisance flooding,” Villere said. “We're still going to have that opportunity where people are going to evacuate and get out of harm's way. It's not going to give any additional flood protection. What it's going to do is lower the insurance premiums."
Engineers say raising the seawall will reduce wave energy across the wall, in turn, reducing the amount of water that gets over the wall.
Still, Pillotte said he thinks the estimated $2 million that would go to the project could be used elsewhere.
"I've looked at the budget just out of curiosity,” Pillotte said. “I think there's a lot of other projects that would serve a lot more of the general public."
Villere said the money for the project comes from reserved funding the city has saved, so if the project moves forward it will not raise taxes and he plans to have more meetings moving forward.