LAPLACE, La.-- One month after Hurricane Isaac flooded his LaPlace neighborhood, Paul Cutnow's house remains uninhabitable.
'[We] had about 16 inches of water in the house,' Cutnow said, where a portion of the interior walls of his house are gutted. 'We're not there yet, but we're getting there.'
His subdivision sits in the northeast quadrant of LaPlace, in an area not far from Lake Pontchartrain. A place where Cutnow thinks a form of storm protection is needed.
'A levee definitely would have helped, I think,' he said.
It is a levee concept that goes back to 1971, and if built, would stretch from St. Charles through St. John and St. James, all the way to Ascension Parish.
'This started 40 years ago,' said St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom. 'We need the Corps advocating for this as a project. And if never before it wasn't realized, this is a significant project.'
The Army Corps of Engineers then began the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Feasibility Study, but didn't finish because of funding. The Corps said the project's study hasn't received any federal funding since 2010 and it's not included in the President's fiscal year 2013 budget, either.
'Work beyond the preliminary selection of the tentatively selected plan will cease unless additional funding is received,' said Rene Poche, spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District.
Studying the St. John portion of the project requires an additional $500,000. Robottom said, though, Hurricane Isaac may have been the ultimate study.
'To have water flowing over the interstate system and having it shut down for four days is unacceptable,' she said. 'It's unacceptable for our residents to have water in their homes.'
Those residents include Paul Cutnow, who like others, is looking to regain his peace of mind.
'Everybody is stressed,' he said.
While the cost of the entire West Shore Levee Project is estimated to be around $540 million, Robottom said the first phase, which includes St. John, would cost $280 million.