Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced 10 flood resilience projects in six parishes developed through Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments. LA SAFE is an innovative planning effort launched by the governor in March 2017 to create strategies and projects in anticipation of coastal land loss and increasing flood risk.
“We believe LA SAFE represents a crucial step forward in cementing Louisiana’s place on the cutting edge in resilience-building activities,” Edwards said. “Although our Coastal Master Plan is the country’s preeminent effort to reduce future land loss and coastal flood risk, LA SAFE has taken the next step in illuminating a path forward for how our communities develop future housing, economic, social and transportation needs to withstand future disasters and adapt to environmental changes over time. In an age of heightened risk, now is the time to start addressing the needs of our communities.”
The project is led by the state’s Office of Community Development (OCD), in partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana (FFL). Throughout the past year, residents of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany and Terrebonne parishes joined with OCD, FFL, parish officials, community-based partners, planners and policymakers to envision future outcomes based on 50-year modeling developed through the state’s Coastal Master Plan.
The LA SAFE team emphasized grassroots, community-based planning by hosting 71 individual public outreach and engagement events over a nine-month period during the past year, in which nearly 3,000 residents from the six parishes participated. As a result, the state will invest approximately $40 million in these six parishes over the next several years to demonstrate the types of catalytic interventions that comprehensively address the effects of land loss and flood risk. In addition, the state will soon follow up today’s announcement by releasing adaptation planning documents for each parish, as well as for the six parishes as a region.
The projects selected in the six parishes include:
- Jefferson – Gretna Resilience District Kickstart and the Louisiana Wetland Education Center
- St. Tammany – Safe Haven Blue-Green Campus and Trails
- St. John the Baptist- Airline and Main Complete Streets
- Terrebonne – Buyouts outside of Morganza-to-the Gulf Levee System and Lake Boudreaux Living Mitigation
- Lafourche – Emerging industry business incubator and resilient housing prototype
- Plaquemines – Harbor of Refuge and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Assistance
“Foundation for Louisiana’s role as a lead partner in the LA SAFE project speaks directly to our mission to invest in the people and practices that work to reduce vulnerability and build stronger, more sustainable communities statewide,” said FFL President and CEO Flozell Daniels, Jr. “We were excited to bring expertise, financial resources, technical support and thought partnership to this work, but as much as anything, we wanted to ensure that the project included and respected the wisdom of local residents. They had a seat at the table in making decisions that affect their future in an equitable and inclusive way.”
Since Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in 2005, every parish in Louisiana has been subject to a federal major disaster declaration as a result of a flooding event. Most recently in 2016, 56 parishes across the state were inundated by flooding at 1,000-year rainfall levels.
“We now know we have to address risk and resilience not just from hurricanes and storm-surge events, but from riverine and flash floods as well,” said OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes. “Moving forward, we will continue to lead in developing resilience plans and projects across Louisiana, applying the lessons we’ve learned from LA SAFE statewide.”