Workers drive sheet piles along Bayou Barataria in Jean Lafitte, the beginning of a concrete-capped floodwall aimed at reducing tidal and rainfall flooding in the Rosethorne basin.
(Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority)

The area surrounding us is getting more flood protection and Jean Lafitte is the one they are working on now.

Contractors began driving sheet piling along the edge of Bayou Barataria in the town of Jean Lafitte last week, marking the start of a project aimed at increasing flood protection for that community.  Circle Construction of Belle Chasse is building nearly two miles of concrete-capped floodwalls and floodgates along the bayou as part of the Rosethorne Tidal Protection project. The top of those walls will be 7.5 feet above sea level, and they are expected to provide protection against high tides or rainstorms that have a 10 percent chance of occurring in any year, a so-called 10-year event. The first phase of the project will cost $11 million. The second phase, which calls for an earthen levee on the southern edge of the community, will increase the project’s total cost to $34 million. “The Rosethorne Basin Levee System being underway is another huge win for our community,” said Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner Jr. in a press release announcing the project. “We will be coming out of Hurricane Ida stronger and more resilient than ever before. Our goal is to have multiple major levee projects underway at once in 2022.”

Protection on our edges improves the protection we have.

The existing levee system in the Lafitte area, some of which is already at 7.5 feet above sea level, was overtopped by more than 11 feet of storm surge during Hurricane Ida in 2021, causing devastating damage to many homes and businesses in the area. Rosethorne is the second of 10 sets of levees and floodwalls being built to the 10-year standard to reduce repeated flooding in the Lafitte area of Jefferson Parish. The first, the Fisher School Basin levee project, added 3 miles of sheet pile and concrete cap floodwall to the existing levee system in 2018. That reduced flood risk to 450 acres of Lafitte, an area that includes more than 300 residential and commercial buildings.

The work is being funded by the Coastal Protection Agency and others.

The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Lafitte Area Independent Levee District and the state Department of Transportation are overseeing the latest project. CPRA and the transportation department are partially bankrolling its cost; the rest will be paid for with state Capital Outlay funds and offshore oil money coming to the state through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. Future levee and floodwall improvements for the area, all named for small drainage basins along Bayou Barataria, include Goose Bayou, Lower Lafitte, Pailet Basin, Crown Point Basin, Lower Barataria Basin, Upper La. 45, Lower La. 45, and Jones Point Basin. “In total, more than $300 million will be spent to construct 29 miles of levees, floodwalls, and gated structures in the region,” said Chip Kline, chairman of the coastal authority. “This level of investment is a game changer for the community of Lafitte.” “With the devastation from last year from Hurricane Ida, it is exciting to see construction underway for the Rosethorne Basin Levee System,” added State Rep. Tim Kerner, former Jean Lafitte mayor and father of the present mayor.

The desire is higher levees to withstand more punishment from hurricanes.

The two Kerners and other community leaders have been urging federal and state officials to build even higher levees that would provide protection from surges caused by a storm with a 1% chance of occurring, a so-called 100-year storm. That’s the same level of protection provided to much of the highly populated west bank area and to New Orleans and other east bank areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

We are being hardened and it will be t3sted in the next hurricane season.

More flood protection for Jean Lafitte
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