LAPLACE (WVUE) - Interstate 10 ramps in LaPlace are now passable, however water remains on the roadway from coastal flooding, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development said.
They continued to closely monitor the area on Thursday (Sept. 24).
Flooding caused headaches at the major interstate exchange, shutting down access ramps.
St. John The Baptist Parish President Jaclyn Hotard said protection from the lake is coming, it’s just not a fast process.
Parts of Highway 51 in LaPlace became an extension of Lake Pontchartrain. Dorian Thompson is from Arkansas.
“It’s a little crazy. It happened pretty fast. Going to work one morning it was just in the ditches and coming back it was to the gas station," he said.
“I talked to the manager and he says they had never seen anything like this in over 7 years," Kenneth Riggs also in town for work said.
These hotel guests are shocked.
“The guys at work are like it’s just a little water. It’s scary to me," Shauna Wright said.
The east wind sparked by Beta made travel a challenge. Rob Renda manages a convenience store near the flooded exit.
“I usually come down 55, but that entrance is closed," Renda said.
The Beta flood appears to be mostly a nuisance, but a bigger surge from 2012′s Hurricane Isaac shut down the I-10.
“We saw Hurricane Isaac which devastated over 7000 homes, so it really got the Corps' attention that this was a needed project," Hotard said.
According to Hotard, the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane and Storm Protection Project took decades.
“This project had been ongoing since the 70s,” she said.
The attention from Isaac helped get the money to make it happen.
Hotard said there is progress.
“The levee project has begun. The project was fully funded in 2018. It’s a $760 million project,” she said.
The money is coming from federal funds and state partners, but even with the plans and money in hand Hotard says it takes time.
“It’s a very lengthy process with acquiring property from individuals, obtaining all of these right of ways and all of that is handled on the federal level through and also in conjunction with CPRA and Pontchartrain Levee District who are the two non-federal sponsors of this huge, huge levee project.”
While most of the land is cleared, the current completion date isn’t set until spring 2024.
“We know if we get a storm surge, a 3 to 5-foot storm surge we are still vulnerable. We are not protected and there really isn’t anything that we can do to beat mother nature without a flood protection system," Hotard said.
In meantime, the parish hopes the levee comes before the next big surge.
Hotard says the parish is working to eliminate other drainage problems as well. Tuesday, September 22, 2020 the parish council awarded two bids to clean outflow canals.
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