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Slidell area gets added levee protection

Published: May. 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2012 at 6:10 PM CDT
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New levee at Highway 11 and Oak Harbor Boulevard in Slidell.
New levee at Highway 11 and Oak Harbor Boulevard in Slidell.

Slidell, La.—Some residents in the Slidell area will have added protection against storm surge during the approaching hurricane season.

Today city and parish officials showed off a new levee built to hold back storm surge in an area inundated by Katrina and Rita flooding in 2005.

The earthen mound on Highway 11 which was built along the Schneider Canal stands 15 feet high. Like a piece of a puzzle it is carved out to fill a specific void.

"It's something that's going to offer an awful lot of protection to the city of Slidell," said Slidell Mayor Freddy Drennan.

Just the mention of the official start of hurricane season leaves some residents on edge. Cheryl Massey lost a lot during Katrina and Rita.

''I lost everything," she said while standing in her front yard.

"We're trying to create a set of levees that will give us protection against a storm surge that would be coming off the lake," said Saint Tammany Chief Administrative Officer Bill Oiler.

"If these levees had been in place pre-Katrina then many homes would not have flooded nearly as severe as they did,"said Drennan.

The new levee will be tied to the adjacent pumping station at the canal.

"What tying this in to the pump station will do is make the pump station work more efficiently which will get water out," said Oiler.

Across Highway 11 is another completed section of the levee.

"We're trying to get a half circle around south Slidell, so that we can prevent the water from coming in like it did under Katrina," Oiler continued.

Eventually St. Tammany Parish officials want to raise Highway 11 and then tie the levees on either side of the road together.

"We're trying to contain the number of breaks that we have, so that we don't have any way for the surge that's coming through here like it did for Katrina," Oiler further stated.

In the meantime, if there is a flood threat the parish has a contingency plan.

''We do have temporary pieces that we would put in place, they're called Hesco baskets," said Oiler.

Meanwhile, the new parish president worries about citizen complacency.

"The further we get away from Katrina and the other storms our memories fade," said Parish President Pat Brister.

On May 31st, emergency planners will conduct a full scale storm readiness exercise.