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Army Corps recommends 30-mile levee improvement project in River Parishes

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 10:37 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2022 at 5:34 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A multi-year levee project promises to protect thousands of people’s properties from storm surge across six parishes, but residents are interested in what that might mean for their wallets.

A significant part of St. Charles parish evaded any flooding problems, but more than five months after Hurricane Ida, affected families are still rebuilding.

“No flooding, but the rain came in and damaged,” said Curtis Tapp. However, with the right storm, Tapp knows flooding and storm surges could become an issue.

“It’s gonna be outrageous but we’ll have to deal with it,” said Tapp.

“This will be a 100-year flood protection levee for the west bank of St. Charles Parish. And it will actually decrease our chances for storm surge from a 100-year hurricane by 98%” said Parish President Matthew Jewell.

The Upper Barataria Basin Study and project has been years in the making, initially authorized in the 90s, with funding only made available in 2018.

With the Army Corps of Engineers approving the chief’s report in January, crews can now begin engineering and designing elevated levees stretching for more than 30 miles all the way to Lafourche Parish.

“Not only did the chief report get signed, but we also received $8 million in a congressional authorization to do the engineering and design for the levee. This is the first time in history that a project has received money before the chief report was signed. So, we think that’s a big win,” said Jewell.

“It’s going to be built to the post-Katrina standard. So, construction is going to be a 1% level of risk reduction given to defend against a storm that has a 1% chance in any given year. And so it’s going to be a system on par with the system built around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” said Matt Roe with the Army Corps of Engineers.

It’s not a done deal. Jewell anticipates lots of work with Congress for final approval and funding. With federal funding, he says the project could also bring relief to residents’ rising flood insurance.

“If we get a congressionally authorized core levy that is recognized by the corps and recognized by FEMA, it will have a reduction on flood insurance rates for our residents. Not just in St. Charles parish, but in all the other parishes,” said Jewell.

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