TS Isaac puts spotlight on lack of flood protection in Lafitte

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 25, 2012 at 11:42 PM

Updated Sunday, Aug 26 at 12:01 AM

JEAN LAFITTE, La. - One hundred thousand sandbags were on standby in the town of Jean Lafitte Saturday. The vulnerable area lies outside the levee protection system, and with Tropical Storm Isaac expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, neighbors like Jan Johnson are nervous.

"If you're not concerned than you haven't been living in Lafitte for a while because these hurricanes can bring in a lot of water," said Johnson. "They keep saying they're going to put a levee back here but the question is, where are they going to get the funding and is it really going to happen?"

While it's too early to tell exactly where the storm will hit, it once again puts the spotlight on the lack of flood protection in Lower Jefferson Parish.

For years, Mayor Tim Kerner has worked to get flood protection for Lafitte. But plans have continued to fall through.

"You get sick to the stomach. You get very nervous because there's so many things that could happen," said Kerner.

The most recent levee built in Lafitte is behind the city park multipurpose complex. It's an eight foot tidal protection levee designed to help protect the government buildings, schools, and churches in the immediate area.

Kerner hopes to eventually double the height of the levee and make it part of a system that would surround Crown Point, Lafitte, and Barataria. Also known as a "ring levee," it could give residents the 100 year protection they've been waiting for.

"I think it's happening, I really do," said Kerner. "It's going to be a discussion as the Restore Act money comes in."

The Restore Act dedicates 80 percent of BP's fines to Gulf states impacted by the oil spill. In it, the ring levee system is named as a top priority, but isn't a guarantee.

"It's all tied to funding, Monica, and that's the big 'if,' but we did get it put in the state master plan," said Jefferson Parish President John Young. "We're going to push for it. It's not a done deal, but it's our priority to get it done."

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