PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. — When you look at a map of Louisiana, Plaquemines Parish is the tip of the boot.
It is surrounded by water and always one of the parishes in the state most prone to hurricanes and flooding.
“We’ve been preparing for 7 storms that came our way this year,” Plaquemines Parish President Kirk Lepine said. “One hit us; Zeta hit us. Didn’t do a lot of damage to our levees, but our levees are vulnerable.”
Lepine added despite its vulnerability to storms, Plaquemines is the only coastal parish without a dedicated tax for levees and flood control.
Saturday, parish voters will decide whether to approve a new 5-mil property tax to pay for hurricane protection and the maintenance and operation of nearly 500 miles of local and federal levees.
Lepine maintains it’s important to protect the levee system not only for families in Plaquemines, but for those living across the greater New Orleans area as well.
“We think of ourselves as the first line of defense,” Lepine said. “It’s important because we have levees to the back of us and we have river levees.”
The new millage would raise about $5 million a year and add about $200 to the average homeowner’s tax bill.
Yvette Hilton’s home backs up to a levee in belle chasse.
“We’re always afraid of the water which is obvious,” Hilton said. “We just don’t know what going to happen.”
Hilton says the parish needs a dedicated fund to keep her and her neighbors safe from storms and potential flooding.
“There’s some things that I find money is spent on that we really don’t need as a parish,” Hilton said. “We definitely need levee protection.”
If approved by the voters, Plaquemines Parish leaders hope to use some of the new tax money as matching funds to win both state and federal flood protection grants.
Also on the ballot in Plaquemines there are tax propositions to help pay for emergency services, parks and recreation, mosquito control and senior centers.
There is also a hotly contested District Attorney’s race between incumbent Charles Ballay and local attorney Leo Palazzo.