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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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$41M to pay for flood control projects in Louisiana parishes

$41M to pay for flood control projects in Louisiana parishes

BATON ROUGE, La. — Six of Louisiana's coastal parishes will split more than $41 million to pay for projects aimed at fortifying communities against coastal land loss and rising seas.

Ten projects in Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany and Terrebonne parishes will receive a slice of the money for the flood-resilience projects.

Nearly $17 million will go toward projects in Terrebonne and Lafourche.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the full list Tuesday.

La. Safe’s projects, funded by a competitive federal grant, are seen as a complement to the state’s 50-year, $50 billion master plan to deal with the increasing threats from coastal erosion, sinking land, rising seas and hurricanes.

“These award-winning La Safe projects represent the cutting-edge in our efforts to proactively plan for the reality of our state’s increasing vulnerability to weather events and coastal erosion,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “In an era of escalating risks, now is the time to help our communities develop future sustainability and resilience.”

In Lafourche Parish, some of the money will:

- Build a community of elevated homes designed for resiliency just south of Lockport. Roughly half of the homes will be sold at market rate and the rest will be affordable to residents earning 20 percent, 30 percent and 50 percent of the area’s median household income. “This project will serve as a model for resilient construction practices as Lafourche adapts to its changing future,” a project fact sheet says. Grant total: $7 million.

- Build and operate an “emerging industry business incubator” in Lockport that would offer shared office space and training for entrepreneurs in eco-tourism, alternative energy, hospitality and coastal restoration. Grant total: $3.5 million.

In Terrebonne Parish, some of the money will:

- Pay for voluntary buyouts that will be offered to an estimated seven residents outside the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane-protection system to move to higher ground elsewhere in Terrebonne. Grant total: $2.85 million.

- Create about 300 acres of wetlands on the northern banks of Lake Boudreaux, a rapidly eroding area that starts just south of Houma. The project would help buffer Houma from storm surges, part of a “multiple lines of defense” strategy that works in concert with Morganza. Grant total: $3.6 million.

The federal dollars were given to Louisiana after Hurricane Isaac, which struck the state in 2012. They are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's National Disaster Resilience Competition.

Edwards' office says Louisiana's projects were chosen after dozens of community outreach events were held to discuss proposals over a nine-month period.

During the first round of meetings many Lafourche attendees expressed concerns about population chang­es in the parish, declining home values and flood risk, noting an opportunity to plan and build for future conditions that included elevated flood risk throughout the parish.

In the second round of meetings, residents continued to express interest in projects that included mixed-use development and responsible storm water management.

Additionally, nearly 80% of residents polled in the third round of meetings indicated that they would like to see affordable housing in their parish.

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