October is historically a dangerous hurricane month in Louisiana. Storms including Hilda, Juan and the storm of 1893 bear witness to that fact that we must be ever vigilant.
Hilda was one of the nation’s worst disasters from a hurricane-spawned tornado event, killing 23 innocent people in Larose in 1964. Juan was the last hurricane to flood lower Lafourche, putting 4.5 feet of water in the 10th Ward area in 1985. The storm of 1893 caused the deaths of more than 2000 people in Louisiana, 700 died in Chenier Caminada, and caused the communities of Leeville and Cut Off to be born as people migrated away from their former homes nearer the coast.
Since Juan, the South Lafourche Levee District has steadfastly tried to protect our ever-sinking community in the 10th Ward, building levees higher and higher despite seeming abandonment from the federal government.
In the last nine years, SLLD has raised our levee system about four to five feet on average.
And during the same time period, since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, while guarding against rising water, SLLD has taken on another protective banner, that of trying to protect us from rising insurance rates too.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decertification of our levees after Katrina has the potential to cause south Lafourche homeowners to pay skyrocketing premiums for flood insurance.
Now fast forward to the October SLLD public meeting and General Manager Windell Curole’s comments about the latest FEMA surveys of uncertified levees.
FEMA’s process for looking at “uncertified” levees, called the Levee Analysis and Mapping Procedure (LAMP), shows the SLLD system to be within less than one-foot of being able to withstand its models for 100 year protection.
“This is the first time since Katrina that the Federal Government has given us good news about our levees,” said Windell Curole, General Manager of SLLD.
The LAMP process was designed to give certification to levees that the CORPS identified as below its 100-year model.
LAMP’s 100-year model is different from the CORPS’ model by about five feet, said Curole.
Curole called the SLLD system a poster child for uncertified levees, showing only a few places where LAMP has identified an overtopping potential.
Those identified places are on the west side going north from Bully Camp on which SLLD is now actively raising the levee by about three feet, and in Delta Farms along the Intracoastal Waterway where state money is about to pay for improvements to the floodwall.
SLLD’s goal since Katrina has been to get a 16-foot average elevation on the south end of the system and 13 feet on the north end.
According to Curole, FEMA’s models and SLLD’s results now seem to be nearly the same.
The identified low areas are “tiny and few” he said, and should be mostly eliminated by December of this year.
Even if these levees would be deemed low under LAMP models, slight overtopping potential and subsequent ponding will nonetheless support the same insurance rates we now pay.
That’s the best news—the possibility that our insurance rates may not spike.
We may only have to worry about rising water going forward.
Of course there are no guarantees.
“We can never guarantee no flooding, but we’ve taken large steps,” said Curole.
Posted on Tue, October 21, 2014
by Buster Avera, Contributing Writer