For Immediate Release: January 15, 2009
Contact: Chris Macaluso
***PLEASE NOTE: The following press release was originally posted on Governor Bobby Jindal's website www.gov.louisiana.gov January 14***
Governor Bobby Jindal Announces Groundbreaking For Three-Mile Stretch Of Morganza Hurricane Protection System
HOUMA - Wednesday, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the state and parish are breaking ground on a three-mile, $6.9 million stretch of the Morganza to-the-Gulf Hurricane Protection System in Chauvin. This project is designed to provide a storm surge barrier for the towns of Chauvin, Grand Caillou and parts of east Houma, all of which experienced their worst flooding ever during Hurricane Ike last September.
Marking one year Wednesday since he was inaugurated, Governor Jindal said, "For too long, the federal government has been sitting on their hands while our coasts remain vulnerable. I told you last year, and I will repeat again today: the time for studies and waiting is over. Building the Morganza-to-the-Gulf to protect the citizens of Terrebonne and Lafourche from flooding is a critical step for the protection of our people and our state's economic expansion."
Fully funded by the state and Terrebonne Parish, the three-mile stretch, identified as Reach H-3, will include ten-foot dirt levees and is expected to take 18 months to build. When completed the Morganza to-the-Gulf Hurricane Protection System will include a 66-mile series of levees, floodgates and locks that will provide storm surge protection to Terrebonne and Lafourche residents.
Morganza-to-the-Gulf was given approval by Congress in 2000, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers missed the authorization deadline for the project. It was re-approved in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act but has been delayed again by the Corps of Engineers because of escalating costs.
In order to speed up work on the Morganza project, Governor Jindal also announced a commitment of $195 million, in state and local funding, to help build the hurricane protection system. Of the $195 million, the state is allocating $101 million from state surplus money, capital outlay and Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) funds. The balance is funded by parish revenue and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
This is the largest commitment of funds to a hurricane protection system outside the New Orleans area and will result in the implementation of the first lift of 75 percent of the proposed Morganza project, including:
* Over 7 miles of levee in the Dulac Area to tie into the proposed structure on the Houma Navigation Canal,
* Over 7 miles of levee in lower Chauvin to reduce flooding in the Boudreaux basin to protect Dulac, Grand Cailliou, Chauvin and lower Houma,
* Over 6 miles in Upper Chauvin to protect, Chauvin, Montegut and Upper little Cailliou,
* And over 5 miles in Montegut to tie into the completed levee section in Point-aux-Chenes, protecting that community and Montegut.
"The Houma area has felt the impact of seven tropical storms and hurricanes in the last ten years all while engineers and policy makers were thinking about building Morganza to the Gulf," said Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves. "A storm protection system built to the elevation of the levees the state and parish are working together to build right now would have stopped even Hurricane Ike's nine-foot storm surge from inundating homes and businesses. We can't afford any more delays in providing the protection the people of this area deserve. The longer we wait, the more it will cost in terms of dollars, property and possibly lives."
Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet added, "Thanks to the financial assistance of the state and the citizens of Terrebonne Parish we have now been empowered to begin levee work on the Morganza to the Gulf project. The persistence and energy generated by the governor, state officials and the Terrebonne Levee Board has made Morganza to the Gulf a reality. This is an important step in our on-going effort to protect the citizens of Terrebonne Parish."
Historically, Louisiana allocated approximately $25-30 million per year for hurricane protection and coastal restoration. Louisiana has dedicated more than $1.1 billion from multiple funds to coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts since Governor Jindal's administration began in January 2008.
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.