By: Littice Bacon-Blood, NOLA.com
June 11, 2014
For 54 years, Lou Gary Chenier has lived in the tiny fishing community of Pleasure Bend, on the southwestern tip of St. John the Baptist Parish. For much of that time, he has tried to stave off the waters of Lac des Allemands encroaching on his St. Martin Street camp.
Despite the best efforts of Chenier and his neighbors, the water is winning. It eats up almost three acres of the coastline a year, making Pleasure Bend even more vulnerable to flooding.
"I've hauled rocks, cut and planted grass," Chenier said. "We actually slowed it down but didn't stop it."
Now Pleasure Bend is getting help from a $3.8 million state grant that will pay to create a rock jetty around the western shore of Lac des Allemands. It will extend 6,000 feet from Plea
sure Bend west to Pointe aux Herbes, to protect existing shoreline from further erosion, officials said. On Wednesday St. John officials gathered at the Pleasure Bend fire station to start construction for what is estimated to be a 60-day project.
"This is part of a long-term plan to protect our coast and to reduce the risk for flooding," Parish President Natalie Robottom said. "We all know what can happen in a very short period of time. It doesn't have to happen during a hurricane."
Robottom said the shoreline loss around Pleasure Bend, population about 250, is 2.9 acres a year. "That's something we can't keep up with. We need to replace what is there and to prevent it from happening," she said."This project ... is particularly designed to do that." The money comes from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement via Louisiana's Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The project is part of the state's comprehensive, long-term plan for a sustainable coast. The same plan includes the proposed $881 million federal storm protection levee on the east bank of St. John, which also is designed to reduce the risk of flooding and prevent coastal erosion, Robottom said. "This project is very much needed," said Parish Councilman Art Smith, w hose district includes Pleasure Bend. "This shoreline protection is absolutely necessary for this community. This community is important, and it means a lot to St. John Parish."
For Raymond Veillon, who said he sold his home in Luling and moved to Pleasure Bend eight years ago, Wednesday's groundbreaking was welcome news. "I've been hearing about it, Now it's finally happening," he said. "This is going to help us out plenty."