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Sunday, August 25, 2019



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Area better protected as hurricane season begins

Area better protected as hurricane season begins

It’s been 14 years since Hurricane Katrina forced thousands of residents in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes out of their homes.

It’s been 11 years since Hurricane Gustav made landfall in Cocodrie and Hurricane Ike claimed two lives in the area.

And it’s been seven years since Isaac, the area’s last hurricane.

This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is predicting a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season, which began Saturday.

According to the 2019 outlook, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms and four to eight hurricanes, with two to four of those being major hurricanes.

Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes have taken steps to improve drainage and preparation ahead of this year’s storm season.

In Terrebonne, dozens of emergency generators have been installed for the parish’s electric pump stations to prevent the flooding seen during 2008′s back-to-back storms.

Parish President Gordy Dove has said about 10 percent of the parish’s electric pumps lacked a back up generator, which likely affected flooding in 2008.

The generators were intended to be in place before the 2018 hurricane season but were not fully installed until later in the year due to purchasing delays.

Terrebonne has also finished construction on two new emergency safe rooms for first responders, one in Gray and one on the east side of Houma.

Combined, the two facilities will have more than 300 beds for emergency personnel to use during hurricanes or major storms. Both are designed to withstand Category 5 hurricanes.

In Lafourche Parish, the South Lafourche Levee District is continuing construction of a swing gate on La. 1 in Golden Meadow that will help speed up the evacuation process for those outside the flood protection system.

The project will close the biggest hole in the south Lafourche levee system. The gate will allow for a speedy road closure, bringing the 12-foot elevation of the road up to the 18-foot levee. During previous major storms, the levee district had to install Hesco baskets to close the gap, a more costly and time-consuming process. Construction is scheduled to wrap up this summer.

The parish has also refurbished or is in the process of upgrading several pump stations since the 2018 hurricane season.

Those projects include ongoing renovations at the Cyprien pump station in central Lafourche, installing a larger, automatic pump in Pointe-aux-Chenes, upgrades at the Sugar Ridge East pump station, and replacing the Coastal Pump station in Lockport and the Parr Larose pump station.

Although no storms are forming in the Atlantic right now, historic high water along the Mississippi River has many residents preparing for a wet summer.

Both parishes have established emergency notification systems for residents to receive up-to-date alerts in the event of an approaching storm.

Lafourche Parish is using the new Everbridge system in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office. Residents can sign up at www.lpso.net/news/alerts.

Terrebonne Parish also uses the Everbridge system to alert residents of both weather events and community events like boil water notices and school closures. To register, visitwww.tohsep.com/terrebonnealert.

 

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JuliaArenstam.