June 19, 2019
Halle Parker, HoumaToday.com
Hundreds of people flocked to the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center on this afternoon for Terrebonne Parish’s second biannual Coastal Day.
The day gives the parish an opportunity to showcase its progress on flooding protection and coastal restoration projects, informing the public about its completed and ongoing projects.
As visitors walked into the auditorium, they were greeted by some examples of the large heavy equipment used in the projects, sitting in the middle of the room. To the right, people walked through a replica of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system.
Photos of the different levees and floodgates involved were on the wall, showing the full length of the system. Drone footage of the projects played on television screens.
Anthony Verdin, a Lafourche Parish resident, said he was drawn to the event because he wanted to make sure he was keeping up with the coastal protection effort. Verdin said he also went to the first Coastal Day in 2017.
He said the projections about flooding and the loss of wetlands does worry him at times.
“I want to learn everything that we’re doing to try to slow it because I know we won’t stop it,” said Verdin.
Various coastal groups and programs set up tables in the Civic Center, providing information about their own missions and answering questions.
Lori LeBlanc, the managing director for the Morganza Action Coalition, said the table gave her group the opportunity to inform more people as most people don’t know all the organizations involved in making the flood protection and restoration projects happen. She said that was why the Coastal Day event was great in general.
“It’s valuable to raise awareness and help residents understand where their tax dollars are going,” she said, especially since the parish residents tax themselves to generate revenue for a lot of the projects.
LeBlanc said few people in the parish have access to physically go out and see the projects themselves.
“We can’t all get out there on the levees, so we bring the levees here,” she said.
The day started with a state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board meeting followed by the dedication of the Falgout Canal “Jimmy Dagate” Floodgate before the Coastal Day event opened at 3 p.m.
Around 5:30 p.m., local and state officials gave remarks and spoke on panels, including Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Edwards commended the willingness of the parish residents to work to protect themselves as well as the actions taken by the CPRA, noting that the agency will have more hurricane protection and restoration projects underway by the end of this year than at any other time in history.
He said he’s also proud that coastal protection and restoration haven’t become political issues and remain based in science.