“Laurel Ridge Levee Extension, which has been on the books for quite a number of decades now, that bid is currently out and will be closed on Thursday,” said a palpably upbeat East Ascension Drainage Board Chairman Chase Melancon to open Monday’s meeting.
The project, part of the early 1980s Follett Plan has been on the drawing board in varied forms for decades. The plan was produced to sell east bank Ascension electorate on the perpetual .5% Sales and Use Tax that was approved by voters on September 29, 1984. Two decades of Police Jury governance saw little progress toward the levee extension intended to improve drainage in the northeast corner of Ascension Parish where flood waters devastated many homes in 1983. Two decades of Home Rule beginning with the July 17, 1993 vote and, finally, at long last Laurel Ridge Levee extension seems a reality.
In the interim, another tragic flood in August of 2016.
Chairman Melancon, who represents the people of St. Amant and Lake Martin who suffered so terribly in 1983 (before he was born)…and again in 2016, was understandably enthusiastic on Monday. So, too, we suspect was Councilman Dempsey Lambert whose constituency also suffered grievous harm.
And what about those who came before, like Melancon’s predecessor in the District 6 council seat. Randy Clouatre, who chose not to seek reelection in 2019 after three terms, was a victim of 2016’s floodwaters who can vividly recall the ravages of 1983.
“I couldn’t be more proud and happy that this important project is finally coming to pass,” Clouatre said this morning. “Personally, I’ve been working toward this day since 2007 and there were others before me. It is a great day for all of us and I want to congratulate the current Board, my former colleagues and those who preceded us.”
Post-2019 Randy Clouatre was appointed to Pontchartrain Levee District, which has partnered with EA Drainage on the project over the last decade. PLD participation has been integral in seeing the project to fruition.
“It is going to benefit an awful lot of folks in St. Amant and northeast Ascension Parish,” Clouatre assured…”especially when incorporated with the Louisiana Hwy 22 Gapping Project.”
He explained one of the dire problems in 2016, inundation of the New River basin which required a cut in the existing levee to allow flood waters out of the system. The Hwy 22 Gapping Project will provide an outlet for such floodwaters to escape into McElroy Swamp.
Two of Monday’s EA Drainage agenda items were related to the levee extension:
- Elos Environmental’s contract to assist with “permitting and environmental monitoring during construction”
- Approval to use EA Drainage’s equipment/labor to clear Right-of-Way owned by PLD; relocation of Demco power lines