[StBernard] 40-Arpent levee boost planned

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Mon Dec 19 08:17:58 EST 2005

40-Arpent levee boost planned
Chalmette-to-Verrett stretch is targeted
Monday, December 19, 2005
By Karen Turni Bazile
St. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau
The back levee along the 40-Arpent Canal that abuts some neighborhoods in
St. Bernard Parish is getting a 2- to 3-foot boost.

Bob Turner, executive director of the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District, said
his agency is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to elevate the back
levee to a consistent height of 10 feet. Although a stretch in Violet has
been raised using Levee District equipment and labor from the Louisiana
National Guard, the corps is waiting to receive bids for the remainder of
the work.

The levee runs along the 40-Arpent Canal from Arabi through Chalmette,
Meraux and Violet to Verrett. The 40-Arpent Canal levee -- sometimes called
the inner levee or back levee -- is maintained by the Levee District and is
not meant to protect the parish from hurricanes. But Turner said he is glad
to get the chance to have the federal government pay to raise it while
repairs are done to the federally-financed levee that runs along the
Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

It isn't known how much the work in the inner levee will cost.

"This work has to be completed before the MR-GO levee is completed," Turner
said. "The justification for this work is basically we are providing some
interim protection by raising the back levees because you can do that a lot
faster than you can repair the hurricane levees. The corps agreed to improve
back levees using the same footprint so there would be some protection
because for Hurricane Rita the water almost came over the (inner) levees."

The inner levee is just outside residential neighborhoods. The hurricane
levee along the MR-GO, authorized by Congress after Hurricane Betsy flooded
much of the parish in 1965, is supposed to be built to about 17 ½ feet. It
is designed to protect the populated areas from a 10- to 12-foot storm

Both levees -- the MR-GO hurricane levee and the inner levee -- were swamped
by Hurricane Katrina.

Raising the inner levee will help protect property while repair work is done
on the MR-GO levee, and will provide additional protection once that levee
is completed.

The inner levee is already at 10 feet or higher on the western side of Paris
Road in Arabi and Chalmette, but drops to an average of 8 feet to the east
from Paris Road to Violet. The levee averages only 7 feet from Violet to

There were no major breaks in 40-Arpent levee during Katrina, but there are
four areas where the hurricane's powerful surge washed away the top 1 to 2
feet of the levee.

Working with engineering support from the corps and Lake Borgne equipment,
the Louisiana National Guard already raised a stretch of the levee to 10
feet high from the Violet Canal to the E.J. Gore Pumping Station in Violet.

Turner said he made a pitch for even more federal help. When congressional
staffers visited the parish last month, Turner said he requested that the
inner levee be built to the same level as the MR-GO levee in the future to
offer even further protection.

"My thinking was, 'Let's try to get a double barrier in place -- one on the
outside and one on the inside -- for more protection from storm surges,' "
Turner said.

. . . . . . .

Karen Turni Bazile can be reached at kturni at timespicayune.com or (504)

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