St. John residents get up-close look at Corps' levee plans

Published: Sep. 18, 2013 at 2:11 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2013 at 2:37 AM CDT
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On Tuesday, residents of St. John the Baptist Parish got an up-close look at preliminary storm protection plans that call for a new levee and the raising of hundreds of homes.

At a public hearing, Army Corps officials explained details of the proposed 18-mile levee, which would start at the Bonnet Carre Spillway and extend to the Hope Canal.

Officials chose the tentative plan over several others, but some are concerned the current proposal doesn't protect a sufficiently wide area. Known as Alternate C, it would protect more than 7,000 structures in a 100-year-storm, but there are concerns it doesn't extend levee barriers for other river parishes.

The plan does, however, call for elevating or raising more than 1,500 buildings in St. James Parish.

"There certainly are economic reasons why the selection is what it is right now, but that can change, and that's why we're asking people to come out and to give us feedback and to give us input that we may or may not have gotten," said USACE Project Manager Jeff Varisco.

"I wanna find out exactly where they're gonna stop this levee, and how it's gonna impact the town of Garyville - not just my house - the town of Garyville," said Garyville resident Garland Landry.

I'm hoping to hear that the Laplace area, at least, will be covered, because I live in the area that flooded during Hurricane Isaac," said resident Gus Brown. "So I'm really concerned about whether we're gonna get protection or not."

The plan carries a price tag of more than $880 million.

Last week, more than 500 people turned out for a similar meeting in Lutcher, as residents there continue pushing for the option that would extend levee protection to St. James Parish and part of Ascension.