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Construction to begin on long-term project to prevent storm surge and help coastal parishes

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Hurricane season starts next week and several long-term projects to protect against storm surge are just getting started. Washington recently signed off on the money to provide some peace of mind for those in Ascension, Assumption, and St. James parishes.

The bill will deliver better flood control, coastal restoration, and hurricane protection, as well as direct investments in our ports and waterways.

"It's a long drawn out process when you recover from a hurricane," said Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre. "The swath of damage is extensive."

Year after year, Louisiana residents are left in recovery mode from devastating storms. Strong winds causing major damage to homes and above all, flooding, a main concern in our southern parishes.

"I would love to have an Ascension Parish where the concern of flooding is no longer an issue," Webre said. 

In December 2022, the Water Resources Development Act was passed to help prioritize coastal ecosystem restoration. It's a vital $1.8 billion project that would benefit coastal parishes and includes Ascension, Assumption, and St. James.

"It is going to effectively put a barrier down at the bottom of that 'Achilles heel,' or vulnerability, and prevent storm surge from going all the way up into the parishes like Assumption, St. James, and even all the way up into Ascension Parish during a tidal surge or hurricane type event," said Congressman Garret Graves.

A surge like what we saw in 2012 when Hurricane Isaac brought major flooding into St. James Parish. Isaac made landfall in Plaquemines Parish as a category one. The project would prevent that surge from reaching the three parishes, something Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre agrees is a project that's also needed in their area.

"They all matter and they all will make a difference," Webre said of the projects. "And that is good for the parish of Ascension and good for our residents here to be able to say 'you know what, we are at least heading in the right direction' to mitigate the flooding that we have because none of us want to go through the things that we went through."

But as for a completion date, that's going to take some time.

"We need about another four to five years to get some of these key projects in place or at least some of the base of these key projects in place," Congressman Graves said. "So what I'm praying for this hurricane season, and the next several is that we don't get it, that really is it, that we need a little bit more time to make progress to actually get these dollars invested in the ground."

Construction on the project, which would be seen around the Barataria basin, is expected to be completed in about 10 years.

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