For Immediate Release: October 29, 2008
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA Adopts Flood Gate Resolution, Discusses Wetland and Barrier Island Damage and Levee Requirements for Flood Insurance
BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration evaluated current federal policy regarding flood gates and discussed damage to coastal wetland and island restoration and flood control projects at a meeting Wednesday in the State Capitol.
It was the first meeting of the Authority since Hurricanes Gustav and Ike impacted coastal Louisiana in September.
The Authority adopted a motion put forth by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities East and West that the CPRA lead an effort to request that Congress enact legislation requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to bear cost and responsibility for the operations and maintenance of all flood gates and other flood control structures located on and within federally maintained navigable waterways.
Flood gates and other control devices on federally maintained waterways, like the one planned for construction by the Corps of Engineers on the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway in eastern Orleans Parish, are built at a full federal expense but the operations and maintenance of those structures is currently passed to the local levee districts.
"The local levee districts don't have the expertise to operate and maintain these large structures nor do they have the money in their budgets to do so," said CPRA Chairman Garret Graves. "The federal government making local levee districts assume the costs for maintaining structures on federal waterways vital to national navigation interests is unfair and unprecedented."
In other business, Garret Broussard, Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration project manager, detailed the continuing damage assessment efforts to wetlands, barrier islands and beaches and flood control structures being conducted by OCPR personnel in the wake of Gustav and Ike.
According to Broussard, 115 of the 151 restoration and protection projects, built with both state and federal resources, have been evaluated with damage documented at almost all. OCPR personnel will continue to examine the various projects coast wide with damage assessment reports expected in the coming months. Those reports will be made available to the public through the CPRA website upon completion.
"Repairing, rebuilding and restoring projects is a priority for the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration," said OCPR Director of Implementation David Miller. "The state is investing millions of dollars into barrier island and beach headland maintenance programs. The repair of these barrier islands and beaches is an extremely important objective of the OCPR."
Broussard described extensive damage to barrier islands from Raccoon Island in western Terrebonne Parish eastward through Timbalier and East Timbalier Islands in Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle in Jefferson Parish.
Miller and Authority member Tina Horn, who represents Southwest Louisiana, also presented a list of coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects in western Louisiana that have been completed and others that are scheduled for construction over the next few years.
Since 2005, six projects have been built west of the Atchafalaya Delta at a cost of more than $22 million. Twelve additional projects are either under construction or in the pre-construction design phase including a $45 million project to restore the Cameron Parish shoreline.
Miller and Jerome Zeringue, of the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities, began the meeting by giving the Authority an overview of the coordination and work performed by the newly-formed Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. OCPR personnel worked with local levee districts, parish-level emergency preparedness officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate efforts and resources before, during and after the storms.
"The sharing of resources among the state, levee boards and the Corps of Engineers saved millions of dollars of tax payer money during the storms," said CPRA Chairman Garret Graves. "But, more importantly, the proactive flood fighting across the coast prevented additional flooding and destruction. The efforts of those involved from the OCPR and the levee districts went well beyond their normal responsibilities."
Zeringue and Windell Curole, the interim director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District also discussed the steps the CPRA is undertaking to coordinate efforts with FEMA and the Corps of Engineers to provide 100-year levee protection to areas throughout coastal Louisiana. In many areas, new levee standards established by FEMA have made levee projects prohibitively expensive. Residents of many South Louisiana communities may not be able to obtain federal flood insurance without the new levees.
"We need to be honest with the people who live in these areas about the risks they face and make sure they understand how vitally important it is for them to evacuate these areas when they are threatened by flooding," Graves said.
The CPRA and OCPR will continue to work with FEMA, levee boards and coastal communities to improve levees and provide the best possible information, Graves said. The state will continue to request that FEMA provide flood insurance on an interim basis while levee systems are raised to the new standards, he added.
For more information about the CPRA's ongoing coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts, please contact Chris Macaluso at
(225) 342-3968 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.