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Hurricane Ida piled massive amounts of debris onto South Lafourche levees

Levee district juggles with ways to remove marsh grass while avoiding a cash crunch
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 7:46 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Hurricane Ida’s storm surge plowed through the marsh in Lafourche Parish and piled large amounts of debris onto levees.

“This is marsh grass and we’ve got this all over the place,” said Windell Curole, General Manager of the South Lafourche Levee District, pointing to the material that blankets the levee near Golden Meadow.

On both the east and west sides of the levees, Ida seems to have caused significant damage to the wetlands.

“We didn’t have all this open water that you see.”

Curole said he has received estimates that one million cubic yards of debris has been pushed onto the levees, with a depth of up to two-and-a-half feet of mostly dead marsh.

If workers were to haul off every bit of it, Curole said, the low bid was $25 per cubic yard, or $25 million.

While FEMA could compensate the district for most of that expense, Curole said it would cause a cash flow crunch in the short term.”

“Number one, it’s a lot of money,” Curole said. “It might be a month, it might be two months, it might be three months.”

In the interim, contractors would expect to be paid.

“To get this done, in the amount of time we need to get it done, we don’t have the cash flow to do that, to wait for that payment.”

To cut costs, the district will consider moving the material around and burning off some it when possible.

Taxpayers in South Lafourche have invested in significant levee improvements in recent years.

While there was minor overtopping during the storm, Curole said no water from surge got into homes or businesses within the South Lafouche Levee District.

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