LAFITTE, LA (WVUE) - A South Louisiana community with a chronic flooding problem stands to get a little extra protection, thanks to a long-distance delivery.
A $66.1 million state and federal project under construction south of Lafitte aims to build or sustain 415 acres of wetlands and begin restoration of the Barataria Landbridge.
Sediment from the Mississippi River is being pumped 12 miles through Plaquemines Parish and into Jefferson Parish.
"This is another speed bump that takes pressure off our levees," said Chip Kline, chairman of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Kline noted the project will provide an additional layer of defense for the levee system that now surrounds populated areas of the west bank to the north of Lafitte.
The marsh creation is the latest in a string of projects employing a dredge on the Mississippi near the Alliance Refinery south of Belle Chasse.
During a tour of the site by coastal and parish officials, Jefferson Parish President John Young and Councilman Ricky Templet symbolically planted an American flag.
"We're just staking ground," Young joked.
Funding for the program came partly from the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act, through the state and federal task force that manages many of Louisiana's coastal projects.
Mel Landry of NOAA Fisheries, the federal sponsor, noted it is also the first CWPPRA project to include a few feet of extra height - enough to rebuild a ridge. The extra height begins to reassemble a natural ridge that once ran north of Barataria Bay, separating salt water marsh from fresh water areas.
"Anything above that is a different type of habitat," said Landry, who plans to build a forested area on the new ridge.
Some locals believe this relatively small amount of land is already making a difference in the amount of water piling into the Lafitte area. Ray Champagne, who lives in the southern portion of Lafitte, surveys the dock in his backyard after four days of strong south winds.
In the past, Champagne said, "it would be over the wharf. We would basically be standing in water."
While no one expects the project to knock down surge from a serious hurricane, the aim is to provide some relieve from the frequent flooding that plagues Jean Lafitte, Crown Point and Barataria.
Decades ago, high tides and surf had to push north through myriad islands, bayous and small channels in Barataria Bay.
Today, with the land gone, water rolls in like a sheet during storm surges and even over periods of strong southerly winds.
Lafitte resident Ed Perrin believes the project cuts down the number of avenues water has to reach Lafitte.
"That's going to reduce the volume," Perrin said.