Vastly Improved Levee System Credited for Saving Terrebonne Parish from Hurricane Barry Floodwaters
Louisiana residents returning to Terrebonne Parish on Sunday were pleasantly surprised to find that their homes hadn't been flooded by Hurricane Barry's higher-than-expected storm surge.
The National Hurricane Center predicted a surge of three to six feet, though Terrebonne Parish President Gordy Dove told 4WWL that the parish recorded 9.08 feet of storm surge, a height he typically associates with a Category 4 hurricane.
Barry's waters overtopped the Montegut and Dularge levees, though none of them were breached. Dove explained that both are older, eight-foot levees that haven't yet been refurbished to the Morganza to the Gulf project's standards of 12 feet. Both are currently under construction.
"By next hurricane season, all your levees between Pointe-aux-Chenes and the Falgout Canal should be within the criteria of the Morganza," Dove told the station.
In Montegut, officials were able to stop the water that topped the levee by building up another small levee.
Dove told 4WWL that around 10 to 15 flooded homes had been reported in Terrebonne Parish as of Sunday night. All the flooded homes were located in Pointe-aux-Chenes, a community at the mercy of the only remaining gap in the Morganza levee system.
The state government approved the $18.5 million required to complete the Grand Bayou Floodgate in April, and construction is expected to be complete by the 2021 hurricane season. That would close the system and reportedly prevent the kinds of flooding caused by Barry in the future.
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Even with plenty of work still remaining, the effects of the improved levee system are undeniable. The seven-foot storm surge caused by Hurricane Rita in 2005 flooded an estimated 10,500 homes, compared to the 10-15 impacted by Barry's much larger surge.
"Without Morganza, the parish would've been devastated," Dove told 4WWL. "The water damage would've been astronomical with just this event."