Nikki Buskey / The Associated Press
HOUMA, La. — Work is underway to tie Terrebonne and south Lafourche’s levee systems together.
The action will close a gap in the Morganza to the Gulf hurricane protection system and offer some protection from storm surge for residents in parts of both parishes.
The preliminary design has been completed for a portion of the Morganza segments K and L. The levee sections will stretch from Morganza’s current endpoint in Pointe-aux-Chenes to connect into south Lafourche’s ring levee system at Cut Off.
Morganza is a system of levees and floodgates meant to protect Terrebonne and parts of Lafourche from storm flooding.
Linking the systems has required a lot of cooperation. While the project is a part of the Terrebonne Levee District’s Morganza project and also provides protection to north Lafourche, the levee crosses land and protects some Pointe-aux-Chenes residents in the South Lafourche Levee District’s jurisdiction. Because so many agencies are involved, the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority stepped in to help design the levee, and Lafourche Parish government has put up money to assist the project.
“We’re all working together, the communities of south Lafourche, north Lafourche and Terrebonne,” said Windell Curole, director of the South Lafourche Levee District. “The bottom line is what’s best for people.”
Terrebonne Levee Director Reggie Dupre said $7.5 million in hurricane recovery grants has been put aside for design and construction of portions of the levee but is not enough to complete the project.
Dupre said that the Levee District hopes to secure up to $6.3 million in state infrastructure dollars to help build the levee.
The plan is to build up two miles of private levee extending from Cut Off west that will eventually become part of the system. Construction of that section will likely be done by the South Lafourche Levee District.
On the Pointe-aux-Chenes side, there’s another 1,600-1,800 feet of levee that follow an existing mitigation levee.
Connecting the levees in the middle will be the most expensive part of the project, Dupre said, because there’s no existing levee to build on, and it must include a floodgate in Grand Bayou and another gate for water flow. Officials hope to finish preliminary design on that segment this year in hopes that the full connection can be finished in the next three years.
“It would provide a tremendous level of protection,” he said.