Public meeting held on West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee

The area that would be impacted by the study.
The area that would be impacted by the study.

LUTCHER, LA (WAFB) - Residents from St. James and surrounding parishes came had pointed questions on Tuesday night for project planners with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Around 50 people packed the Knights of Columbus Hall in Lutcher to hear what planners had to say about a five-year study on the West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Levee. Project Manager, Jeffrey Varisco laid out the details in a Power Point presentation.

The project includes four different options for construction, each plan affecting St. Charles, St. James and St. John parishes differently. That has residents from those parishes and others concerned the new levee alignments could make matters worse.

"Here comes the rain. Here comes the hurricane again. We're stacking water. We're getting water inside with another hurricane. Where are you going to pump the water? You can't pump it to the lake. It's topping the levees already. Where's that extra water going to go," one resident asked.

"We've got to do something to get this water away from us. If we do something, pump it into the river. That's the only way you're going to do it. Because we'll never see this in our lifetime," Bernie Cashio, another resident said.

Planners said they are pleased with the feedback. The information they gather at public meetings will be included in a report that will help engineers determine which route to take on the project.

"Certainly the Corps is going to be required to look over any impacts we might induce by any sort of action we take and it has to be a comprehensive review. It goes to outside agencies that have to review us to make sure we're technically accurate," Varisco said.

But some residents said they are still uneasy with the plan. They want to see projected results before engineers going to the drawing board on a final draft.

"I think we're going to have a new set of problems. We're going to have houses that didn't have water that's going to flood and we're just going to be chasing our tails," a volunteer fireman said.

"It's mind boggling. Something's got to be done," Steven Brignac, a resident said.

A team of engineers will pick a plan sometime this summer. It will be submitted to Congress for approval and funding.

The Corps said the project could carry a price tag of between $700 million to one billion dollars.

Construction could begin in 2014.

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