Monday, November 16, 2015
In an effort to secure funding for the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project, Parish President Natalie Robottom participated in a Congressional Roundtable before the United States Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Friday morning. At the request of Congressman Graves, the meeting was held in New Orleans at the Louisiana State Supreme Court and the discussion focused on “The Importance of Port, Waterway, Flood Control & Ecosystem Restoration Improvements to the Nation’s Economy: Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)”. Following passage of WRDA 2014, Congress made a commitment to passing a WRDA Bill every two years to fund critical infrastructure projects. By holding the Roundtable, the Committee and area leaders highlighted current issues facing Southeast Louisiana and the need to include them in the 2016 WRDA Bill.
Parish President Robottom described the devastation caused to St. John Parish by Hurricane Isaac and its impact to residents, businesses and the region. She also stressed the importance of expediting funding for the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee Project. “After 44 years in the study phase, Hurricane Isaac spurred completion of a Chief's Report for the West Shore Project in June of 2015. However, the threat of flooding remains until the project to protect St. John, St. Charles, and St. James Parishes is completed. St John recently flooded for nearly five days after heavy rain storms and tidal flooding impacted our area," said Parish President Robottom.
Both Congressman Graves and Richmond were on hand during Hurricane Isaac and acknowledged the need to construct this project. When asked by Congressman Garrett Graves about contributing factors to the flooding during Hurricane Isaac and the recent storm in October, Robottom responded, “The area that flooded was along the coast of Lake Pontchartrain which has experienced significant coastal erosion. The time and cost associated with forty-four years of studying this project has left our area vulnerable and exposed our residents, businesses, and the Port of South Louisiana to repeated flooding," said Robottom.
Following the meeting, committee members received a first-hand look at the target area through a flyover of Southeast Louisiana. Committee members expressed appreciation for the information provided and the impact it will have on their decision-making for funding.
Roundtable panelists that joined President Robottom included: Kyle Graham, Executive Director, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Bob Turner, Regional Director, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority East; on behalf of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, Amy Larson, President, National Waterways Conference, Paul Aucoin, Executive Director, Port of South Louisiana; on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities, Matt Woodruff, Director Public & Government Affairs Kirby Corporation; on behalf of Waterways Council, Inc. and Michael Hecht, President and CEO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.