Progress in effort to secure flood protection should be celebrated

Editorial by

December 11, 2013


The movement of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection project from idea to reality has seen its successes and roadblocks.

This week, the effort cleared its final administrative hurdle, moving a step toward the long sought goal of the $10 billion in federal money officials estimate it will take to build.

Morganza, a miles-long system of levees, floodgates and a lock on the Houma Navigation Canal, is intended to protect Terrebonne Parish and much of Lafourche from storms.

It got its final administrative and environmental clearance this week from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Though there's still no promise of money to build the massive project, advocates celebrated the clearance, which must happen prior to securing Congressional approval for the work and, hopefully down the line, the money to build it.

The project has secured Congressional approval three times over the past 20 years, but something always surfaced to derail progress.

Local backers grew weary of waiting and opted to build a smaller version of Morganza using local and state money — going off the theory that some protection is better than none — but they still hope to one day have the massive system that would come via the corps.

The district has spent about $250 million so far on the 10- to 12-foot levees and associated floodgates, constructing them along the same route planned by the corps. The district hopes that once federal money is approved, the corps can upgrade the levees to protect against stronger hurricanes and storm surge.

Everyone involved in the effort to secure hurricane protection for Terrebonne and Lafourche knows all too well the long history that plagues Morganza, so no one is naively thinking the federal government will simply jump on board and write a blank check.

No one would argue that it's too early to declare victory in the battle for hurricane protection, but this is a necessary milestone that's to be celebrated.

Here's hoping that this is one in a long line of victories that will end with the storm protection this area has long sought and needs to survive.

Editorials represent the opinionsof the newspaper, not of any individual.

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