By: Sean Ellis, HoumaToday.com
September 13, 2016
The Morganza Action Coalition is expanding its grassroots advocacy work to include promoting flood protection into Lafourche Parish.
The move, the coalition said, provides the entire region with a stronger voice for levee projects to protect the coastal communities. Representatives from the North Lafourche and South Lafourche levee districts, as well as Lafourche residents, are now included on the coalition’s board.
The coalition was created in 2006 when a group of Terrebonne residents and business owners came together to promote federal authorization and funding of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane-protection system. The 95-mile system of locks, levees and floodgates buffers most of Terrebonne and parts of Lafourche from Gulf of Mexico storm surges.
The coalition’s efforts with elected officials and policymakers have helped the Terrebonne Levee District secure federal authorization and permit approvals for the system after decades of studies and federal delays.
Permitting for reaches K and L in the Lafourche stretch of Morganza, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mitigation policy and federal flood mapping are all issues the coalition and area levee districts have resolved together in recent years, officials said.
“For the past 10 years, MAC has aggressively promoted Morganza-to-the-Gulf as critical protection for not just Terrebonne, but our neighboring parish of Lafourche as well. Likewise, we have worked very well with our neighboring levee districts to resolve issues that impact our region’s ability to protect ourselves,” Jay Walker of Houma, the group’s 2016 president, said.
Now, that it has expanded to Lafourche, the group will focus its efforts on more than just the Morganza project but all levee work in the two parishes, said Mitch Marmande, project manager for the Morganza project.
“It’s more of a regional approach, and the reason we’ve done that is because we all have the same basic issues in trying to implement our own levee projects,” he said.
“As a region, we’re in a better position if there were to be any state or federal money, we’re speaking with a unified voice,” said Lori LeBlanc, the coalition’s managing director.
The three are the only levee districts in the state that receive sales tax money approved by local voters. The state’s other levee districts are funded through property taxes established in the state constitution, Marmande said. Local residents taxing themselves is a testament to their commitment to the projects, he said, and not waiting on the federal government to pay for the work.
The coalition’s 2016 board of directors includes Walker, Jack Moore, Daniel Walker, Cory Kief, Ronald Callais, Marguerite Knight, Roland Guidry, Jean Marmande and Jane Arnette.