Help on way for Ida-clogged waterways in lower Jefferson Parish

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 11:47 PM CDT

BARATARIA, La. (WVUE) -- Nearly two years after Hurricane Ida, many waterways around Barataria, Jean Lafitte and Grand Isle remain clogged by all types of storm debris. Some fishermen say they can’t get their boats out, but Jefferson Parish has developed a plan.

Since Hurricane Ida in August 2021, Mike Taranto said he has had difficulty negotiating the clogs that lie beneath the surface of the canal behind his Barataria home.

‘Right now, I’m not sitting on sediment,” he said. “But as you head that way, you start hitting some bumps in the road.”

A block away, Romeo Mamolo has learned to live with a large camper that washed in and nearly sank his fishing boat during the storm. The vehicle now sits abandoned in the canal.

A large shed displaced by Ida blocks the canal behind Lisa Ann Drive and is marked by white posts. Near the main Barataria channel, a large section of marsh that washed in from the storm is still a marine hazard, and reportedly has damaged several boats.

It’s not what you can see that’s the problem, it’s what lies beneath the surface. And livelihoods have been impacted by the fact that many of these waterways still are not navigable almost two years after Ida.

“There’s quite a few shrimp boats -- one right there -- that hasn’t moved since the storm,” said Barataria resident Chris Bourgeois.

But help finally appears to be on the way

“FEMA has given approval on the fingerling canals, and now we’re expecting approval for Barataria very soon,” said Jefferson Parish council member Rick Templet.

The Jefferson Parish Council has approved a resolution authorizing the state Office of Homeland Security to enter into a cost-sharing agreement with FEMA, to begin reimbursing the parish for dredging and debris removal in waterways around Lafitte.

“Yes, it’s two years after Ida and two days before hurricane season, but at least we have progress coming,” Templet said.

Bourgeois said the dredging can’t begin soon enough.

Clearing the waterways around Lafitte will cost an estimated $11 million. FEMA will pay 90 percent of that cost, with the state paying the other 10 percent. Parish officials also are seeking FEMA money to clear the waterways around Grand Isle, where 700 structures are believed to have washed into waterways there.

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