September 8, 2006
By Theresa Schmidt
In response to Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the State Legislature formed the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. It's duties include coming up with plans to protect Louisiana's coast from future hurricanes. The agency is coordinating with local governments to begin the coastal protection efforts for the future.
The authority is working on ways to combine hurricane protection with coastal restoration in the short term and long range. Members of their planning team recently went before Calcasieu Police Jurors to explain their effort. Oneil Malborough is with the Shaw Group. He told jurors, "One of the primary reasons the federal government was concerned with funding some of the programs they had is they said we didn't have a plan. So, the special session directed a plan. We're working on it, but we only have a limited amount of time to complete it."
Projects they are looking at include the feasibility of a levee system throughout the coastal areas of south Louisiana. Malborough told jurors,"If you notice the red levies are the hurricane protection levies or flood levies along the Atchafalya, Mississippi River. In this area, the western part of the state, there are none. So, part of our task is to begin the planning and work required to in fact allow a coastal protection and restoration program across the whole state from the Sabine to the Pearl River."
As well Congress has directed the Corps of Engineers to work with the state to, within two years, come up with a full range of flood control, coastal restoration and hurricane protection measures for south Louisiana's. "Has to include a category five equivalent comprehensive hurricane protection. Congress wants to know, our delegation wants them to look at what will it take to protect the entire state or most of the state to a category five equivalent hurricane. They are doing that. It includes a full range of measures which will include flood control, coastal restoration and hurricane protection. Never has the corps done that and put all three things together," says Malborough.
Projects Louisiana's may recommend to congress include ecosystem restoration and storm surge buffer in southwest Louisiana's. The Corps of Engineers final report is due to Congress in December 2007.