Levee System

Many floods have caused quite a bit of damage in Louisiana over the past few years, however the South Lafourche area has stayed dry. This community spans 18 miles from Larose to Golden Meadow, and it has had a strong Levee Board since 1968. Levee Board General Manager Windell Curole said the organization has always known the importance of having strong levees.

“Our levee board is made up of hardworking business men that understood the need for flood protection,” said Curole. “If we don’t have flood protection, we don’t have a community.” Curole said that the board works hand in hand with the Core of Engineers to make sure that the levees are up to par. “Even though it’s a core project, we’ve never treated it like the core is in charge,” said Curole. “It’s our levee, we’re responsible for it, and we want to make sure it works.”

But due to the fact that Bayou Lafourche flows through the community, flooding can occur from the inside as well. Therefore, the Levee Board built two floodgates on each end of the community. “When we close both floodgates, we have a siphon system that we can actually reduce the water in the bayou by siphoning it into our drainage system and then draining it out,” said Curole. This water is then pumped from the canal, over the levee, and out of the community.

Before Hurricane Katrina, former Core of Engineers member Bruce Baird said New Orleans used a flooding system called parallel protection. “The Core fought not to have parallel protection, but Sewage and Water Board and our congressional delegation insisted that we had to do it,” said Baird. Baird said that this system couldn’t pump water into Lake Pontchartrain directly, because the pumping stations weren’t by the lakefront. This meant that the city could not pump water out after it flooded, and the canal floodwalls essentially had to be hurricane proof.

New Orleans has since changed their protection strategy and has built pump stations by the Lake Pontchartrain levee. “The floodwalls are now out of the picture; they’re behind the pump station and behind levees,” said Baird. “That’s the way it should be, and the city is a lot safer just because of that.”

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