Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
LAFITTE, La.-- At a dedication on Saturday in Lafitte, a plaque unveiling paid tribute to a community that is no longer there. Manila Village-- a Filipino community-- once stood near Barataria Bay, until Hurricane Betsy swept it away in 1965.
"While we celebrate the Filipino history here, we also want to make everybody aware that we are fighting hard for levees because we don't want that to happen to the rest of the area," said Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner.
With the 2012 hurricane season underway, communities outside of the levee protection zone in Jefferson Parish are looking at ways to protect themselves, should a storm arise.
"We also have to continue to focus also on those areas in Jefferson Parish that are outside the levee protection system: Lafitte, Crown Point, Barataria-- getting homes elevated," said Jefferson Parish President John Young on the first day of hurricane season. "But also, we were able to convince the State Coastal Master Plan, to build ring levees in the first phase, instead of the second phase, to protect those areas. And certainly our largest inhabited barrier island, Grand Isle, is always going to be at ground zero."
Grand Isle officials say they are continuing to lobby for money to improve the island's protection.
"We're talking about building some levees on the Chernier, Caminada side and also some levees on the north side of the island, where most of the people live at in that part of town," said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle.
Still, coastal communities in Lower Jefferson Parish remain vulnerable to events like last year's Tropical Storm Lee. Even higher than normal tides can cause problems there. Yet, that is something they will begin to remedy in Lafitte within the next year.
"We are getting ready to do a little tidal protection levee that we started with the land acquisition about two days ago," Mayor Kerner said. "So, it won't be ready for this hurricane season. But, in the future, that little tidal protection will protect the school, the businesses, the government buildings, so the community could survive a continue to provide services during a disaster."
Coastal communities in Jefferson are looking at two potential sources of money that could help get them storm protection. One is money coming to the state from offshore oil royalties beginning in 2016. The other is coastal restoration, which would be paid for through the Restore Act and oil spill fines, if the bill is passed by Congress.