Nikki Buskey / The Houma Courier
HOUMA, La. -- A second-hand floodgate from Westwego could get Pointe-aux-Chenes residents fast flood protection for a little money, according to Terrebonne Levee District officials.
The 11-foot-tall barge floodgate, installed as stop-gap flood protection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 while it finished a larger floodgate in Bayou Segnette, is set to be removed in August.
Knowing the floodgate would soon be surplus equipment for their levee district, west Jefferson officials approached the Terrebonne Parish Levee District about the possibility of using it.
Local levee officials and state lawmakers are working with Cajun Constructors, the Baton Rouge company tasked with getting rid of the floodgate, to donate it to Terrebonne, said Stevie Smith, vice president of All South Engineers, who has been overseeing the technical aspects.
"If we get this done, it will have been a group effort," Smith said, adding state Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma, and state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, have been negotiating with Cajun Constructors. "It will be a great deal, if we can work it out, to acquire this floodgate at low-to-no cost. This barge is worth up to $750,000."
Smith added that while officials with Cajun Constructors seem inclined to donate the floodgate, the details are still being worked out and it isn't a done deal.
Building a new floodgate on Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes would cost as much as $10 million, said Terrebonne Levee Director Reggie Dupre. Building the floodwalls and receiving structures needed to install the donated floodgate would cost about $3 million.
"That's about 30 percent of what it would cost," Dupre said. "This will save us a lot of money."
Levee officials are applying for a statewide flood control grant from the Department of Transportation and Development to install the floodgate, and that will pay for 90 percent of construction costs.
Smith said officials are working with the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority to help facilitate the donation.
The economic agency helped Weatherford donate its former headquarters to the Port of Terrebonne in 2011 using its nonprofit arm, the Terrebonne Economic Development Foundation. Because the foundation is a registered nonprofit, Cajun Contractors could reap the tax benefits of the donation, Smith said.
"We're working on a way for that barge to be donated so that Cajun gets the appropriate tax credits for a sizable donation," Smith said.
Since the barge was built in 2007, Dupre said he doesn't have any qualms about accepting the floodgate. But because the structure was meant to be temporary, it will need to be coated and painted to protect it from the elements and make it last over time, Dupre said.
"Due to lack for resources, we're finding creative ways to get flood protection done in Terrebonne," Dupre said.