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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Slow permit process continues to delay Larose floodwall project

Slow permit process continues to delay Larose floodwall project

As local government groups gear up for the heart of hurricane season, the South Lafourche Levee District is warning citizens that a critical effort to improve levee protection is still on hold.

The Larose Floodwall Project, shut down by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in January, is the only area of flood protection in the 10th Ward that is substantially lower than the rest of the system.

While elevations throughout the levee district have been vastly improved from a height of 18-19-ft. on the Golden Meadow end to 13-ft. in the Larose area, the Larose Floodwall is only 8-ft. above sea level in one area along the Intracoastal Waterway.

In 2008, Hurricane Ike put 5-ft. of water against the wall, threatening the safety of residents inside the levee protection system.

SLLD wants to increase the height to 13-ft. to match the nearby levee systems and the locks in Larose.

Those plans were put on hold by a “cease and desist” order from the USACE for what they called lack of proper permits.

Despite not securing the permit, SLLD had gone ahead with the Floodwall project and was about halfway to completion when the order was received.

Curole noted that investigation has proven that water actually seeped under the wall during Hurricane Ike because the CORPS’ sheet piles are only down to a minus 12-ft.

“That’s what happened in the 17th Street Canal failure,” he said. That failure caused extensive flooding in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

SLLD’s plans call for sheet piles to be driven to a depth of 46-ft.

“If we were allowed, we would have the wall in place in one month,” said Curole. “I just want y’all to be aware we know we have a bad spot there. We know the problem and know how to stop it, but don’t have permission. It’s not a good situation,” he said.

At a recent levee district meeting, Curole said SLLD is exploring several options to resolve the issue.

Senator David Vitter and other members of our congressional delegation have had meetings with the Corps in Washington to expedite the permit.

Also, SLLD has enlisted the aid of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to push the permit issue.

Curole said his board is even looking into using the court system to help resolve the issue.