On June 21, 2023, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana signed a partnership agreement for the $6.5 billion Southwest Coastal Louisiana hurricane and storm damage risk reduction and coastal ecosystem restoration project.
“Today’s announcement is transformative for the people of Southwest Louisiana who have held strong in the face of some of the worst storms the country has ever seen,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.
“The formalization of this partnership is a testament to the continued, shared commitment of the State and the Corps to work together to implement projects to help reduce flood risk and storm damage to the people and businesses living and working in the region,” he added.
Southwest Coast Louisiana was authorized in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016.
Congress and the Administration made a national commitment by including $286 million in the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and $10 million in 2022 Community Project Funding to initiate construction of the non-structural flood risk management plan.
“Today is a monumental day for our coastal program and the people of southwest Louisiana,” said Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Chairman Chip Kline.
“With the signing of this agreement, the Corps will soon begin allocating nearly $300 million to elevate homes in Southwest Louisiana, reducing risk for the residents of Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes. This huge step forward in the Southwest Coastal Louisiana project has been decades in the making and will positively impact the region for generations,” he continued.
These funds will be used to elevate an estimated 800-1000 of the overall 3,462 residential structures identified in the feasibility report.
The project will be cost shared at 65% federal and 35% by CPRA. An additional $10 million Community Project Funding will be applied toward project’s first restoration features, including six miles of shoreline protection at Rockefeller Refuge.
“We need to look no further back than Hurricanes Laura and Delta to recall the devastation caused to these coastal communities here in Southwest Louisiana,” states Major General Diana Holland.
“To deliver the Nation’s commitment, USACE is applying a regional approach to delivery with the support of the Mississippi Valley Division and the Rock Island District,” she explained.
The purpose of the Southwest Coastal Project is to implement localized storm surge risk reduction features to reduce hurricane storm surge damage risks to structures in Cameron, Calcasieu, and Vermilion Parishes.
Colonel Cullen Jones added “This partnering agreement is a first step in implementing the combined non-structural flood risk management and coastal restoration to deliver an overal 1-percent level of risk reduction for the residents and businesses that participate in the program. We look forward to working closely with CPRA and our local governments as we move forward to deliver risk reduction to this vital part of the Nation.”
Senator Bill Cassidy said “thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, hundreds of homeowners will be protected against flooding when the next storm comes. This is one piece of the puzzle to make Louisiana more resilient.”
“Securing funding for storm mitigation and coastal restoration is critical to preserving our way of life in Southwest Louisiana,” said Congressman Clay Higgins.
“My office has long prioritized funding for waterway management and storm mitigation efforts, including the Southwest Coastal Louisiana Project. We’ve worked closely with our state and federal partners to advance this project, and the signed PPA means that the construction phase is moving forward,” he added.
Twenty-seven structures have cleared all assessments and are ready to be raised with 17 in Vermillion Parish and 10 in Calcasieu Parish.
“This is great news for Southwest Louisiana, and on behalf of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, I want to sincerely thank everyone involved for getting this across the finish line. We cannot wait to see the positive impact and benefit this will have for our community,” said Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Chris Landry.
Nearly 4,000 structures were identified as preliminarily eligible in the 2016 Final Feasibility Study.
Qualifying residential structures will be raised approximately 5 feet on average.
“The investment being made in southwest Louisiana at both the state and federal level is vital to protecting the people, businesses, ecosystem, and way of life in Cameron Parish,” said Cameron Parish Police Jury President Joe Dupont.
“We have seen more than our fair share of damage from storms, but the people of Cameron are resilient. The partnership formalized today and the promise of the work that will be done on the ground through the Southwest Coastal Louisiana project should give all Cameron Parish residents hope for a safer, better protected future,” he continued.
USACE will host public meetings in late summer 2023, where homeowners can get more information on the project and begin registering for the elevation program. Structure elevations are expected to begin in June 2024.
“I want to thank the state, CPRA, and the Corps on behalf of the people of Vermilion Parish,” said Vermilion Parish Police Jury President Jason Picard. “Today’s partnership agreement moves us one step closer to completing the Southwest Coastal Louisiana project and offering the members of our community protection from flood risk and storm surge. The people of Vermilion Parish deserve the peace of mind that completion of this project will provide.”
Additionally, 342 non-residential structures will be considered for dry-flood proofing to three feet above ground and berm construction for 157 warehouses will be considered less than or equal to 6 feet above the ground.
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