Flood Mitigation and Risk: For every benefit there is a cost. Free lunches are only available in Oz

I’ve been holding onto a news story that I know will be of interest to our good friend Editilla over at the Ladder that I hope will set the tone for some thoughtful discussion on the wisdom of filling in marshes and then building levees to protect the resulting development. We’ve discussed flood mitigation in depth here on Slabbed and we’re fans of it. What we’re not fans of is filling in wetlands and building levees and the reason is simple, the water has to go someplace and in this case it is the non-marshy, once high and dry areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast that take the hit.

Predictably the Army Corps of Engineers mislead local officials, this time assuring local leaders such as Hancock County Board of Supervisor president Rocky Pullman the levee construction related to Lake Pontchartrain that is contained in the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan would not impact the Mississippi coast when their own study painted a much different picture. Let’s visit with a recent AP story run in the Clarion Ledger to get the details:

Hancock County officials have told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that a new levee system planned to protect eastern Louisiana from future hurricanes will likely increase flooding in parts of coastal Mississippi.

The Hancock County board of supervisors met with Corps officials last week to talk about the corps’ Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan, which includes two large floodgates, or weirs, and a line of levees stretching from New Orleans East up the Pearl River…….

Local officials had been assured in March (by USACE) that none of the current construction would adversely affect South Mississippi.

Pullman told the newspaper the plan the corps now proposes would mean that once water gets trapped in the levee system, “it is going to go to the path of least resistance, which is us, only 19 miles away.”

And as detailed Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan the Army Corps acknowledges land that was once high and dry in Mississippi will pay the price for allowing unwise risky development in the Louisiana marshes:

“It was determined that the LACRP ‘weir’ alignment and high/level Slidell levee alignment would impact Hancock County through increased flooding.” Continue reading “Flood Mitigation and Risk: For every benefit there is a cost. Free lunches are only available in Oz”

New Flood Maps for NOLA. Familar headaches for the slabbed

I’ve been keeping one eye on the evolution of the new flood maps for the New Orleans area since their release in February. Complicating matters are ongoiong flood control projects which make City approval of the maps anytime soon unlikely. And once again we see the tug war between wind mitigation and flood mitigation. David Hammer filed the story for the Times Picayune: (h/t Mr CLS)

Earthea Nance of the city’s Office of Homeland Security said the maps are getting more outdated each day. In the two years since the snapshot, new and rebuilt flood protection has further reduced most homeowners’ risks. And two years from now, the Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to finish building and restoring levees, floodwalls and pumps designed to protect most of the city from a so-called 100-year storm — a storm with a 1 percent chance of happening in a given year.

For some, particularly in neighborhoods such as Lakeview, the maps show their risk has abated and if the city would adopt the FEMA maps, huge savings on flood-insurance premiums would follow. But those residents will have to wait. The City Council didn’t want to adopt the maps and force others in areas where flood risk has increased, like the Lower 9th Ward and parts of Gentilly, to elevate now when adequate protection should be in place in a couple of years. Continue reading “New Flood Maps for NOLA. Familar headaches for the slabbed”

Save our Barrier Islands and Coastal Marshes

Cat and Ship Islands - Gulf Islands National Seashore
Cat and Ship Islands - Gulf Islands National Seashore

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and in these pictures are two barrier islands in the Mississippi Sound. As Nowdy would say they belong to you and me, preserved forever in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Part inspiration for artists and home to seabirds these islands protect the mainland from stormy seas. Still standing despite being hit by Camille and then Katrina 36 years later these islands are as important to the ecology of the Mississippi Coast as the marshes of Plaquemines and St Bernard Parishes are to New Orleans and the North Shore.

I’ve been holding this post since early last month beginning with the release of the revised Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program, a topic we’ve blogged on extensively here at Slabbed, most recently here and here.

While the story of the ongoing development of the Coastal Improvement Program is vital to the coast it has been one of those topics Nowdy and I simply don’t have time to cover right now due to time constraints associated with our day jobs thus it’s consignment to the dreaded drafts folder which is the slabbed equivalent of the roach motel with few ever making it back out. Thanks to a strangely out of context but well timed Op-ed in today’s Clarion Ledger this post literally has arisen from the stormy deep albeit in a differing direction.

Before we pick apart the Op-ed some helpful local context is in order. Continue reading “Save our Barrier Islands and Coastal Marshes”

Gene Taylor on the New Army Corp of Engineer’s Buyout Proposal

As I observed in my post yesterday on this topic, the experience of flooding out with Katrina, and then twice three years later with Ike and Gustav has taken the starch out of local popular opposition to allowing swamps and marshlands to remain in development. Our own Rep Gene Taylor was taking no chances however making sure the message the proposed ACE buyouts are voluntary has been heard loud and clear. The Sun Herald has the story:

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor said Wednesday that South Mississippians shouldn’t panic over a proposed federal private property buyout plan that’s moving toward Congress for funding.

In fact, Taylor, D-Bay St. Louis, said that the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Plan has some excellent aspects, such as restoration of the barrier islands. And even though the plan has shrunk somewhat in scope since its origin, it is “still a very, very ambitious project,” he added.

Taylor said he has told officials in the corps’ top echelon that any property buyouts must be voluntary on the part of the sellers, and any mandatory buyout by the government will not fly. “Given the sensitivities, there was a very high level of concern. They got the message,” he said Continue reading “Gene Taylor on the New Army Corp of Engineer’s Buyout Proposal”

The Human Side of Mitigation: Stubborn but Weary – The Long Goodbye

I have two recent news stories, one from Louisiana and one Mississippi on the impacts of Ike and Gustav on a weary post Katrina/Rita populace. We’ll begin with the chief of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians in Isle de Jean Charles located in Terrebonne Parish. The Times Picayune tells the story, here is a long excerpt:

Chief Albert Naquin is tired. Tired of seeing his community flooded. Tired of begging for help.

More than a week after Hurricane Gustav pushed water over the ring levee protecting the island in south Terrebonne Parish, where descendants of several American Indian communities still live, Naquin, chief of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, declared: “This is my last one. I’m not going to keep doing this.”

Naquin says it is time for the island’s remaining residents to move farther inland, surrendering their way of life to the twin threats of storm surge and coastal erosion. Continue reading “The Human Side of Mitigation: Stubborn but Weary – The Long Goodbye”