Surge Consortium workshops held

Breton-Borgne Surge Consortium Workshops Held.

PC established two regional “surge consortiums” to promote regional collaboration between parishes, levee boards, municipalities etc.  to address hurricane storm surge risk. As Michael Hopkins, Ph.D., stated “Hurricane surge does not know or respect political boundaries, its possible for one community to help itself but hurt another by affecting surge.” The first surge consortium was around Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas.   The latest is the Breton Borgne Surge Consortium covering St. Bernard Parish, East Plaquemines Parish and East-New Orleans.  Technical analysis and a report have been written but primary activity has been workshops in which we engage with representatives from each of the regions to discuss important topics that help us understand and address storm surge risk.

Two recent workshops were held in local communities to focus on their particular concerns. In May, a workshop was held in Phoenix which is a small rural community along the Mississippi River 50 miles south of New Orleans.  The workshop was held in partnership with the Zion Travelers Cooperative Center with the able assistance of Ms. Darilyn Turner.   This remarkable community recovered after the devastating flood of Hurricane Katrina, which was chronicled in a book published by Reverend Tyrone Edwards from Phoenix.   ”Let Us Arise and Rebuild” tells the story of great faith and community spirit leading to the rebuilding of their churches and homes.  Reverend Tyrone participated in the workshop along with others from the community, state representatives, university scientists etc.   Several prominent issues were identified. Foremost was their vulnerability to evacuate because only one road leads in and out of their community and is outside the leveed area and can be easily flooded as a storm approach, potentially “trapping” residents.  In some storms, residents perilously evacuated by driving on the Mississippi River levee with the river water on one side and storm surge on the other.  At the workshop, we also discussed planting trees for coastal restoration, and the community is interested in establish a tree nursery.

Another workshop was held in New Orleans-East and focused on the particular issues there.   Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen who represents the area attended the workshop.  This area of New Orleans is split with those inside the hurricane levee and those outside the hurricane levee.  The overall setting is the land area between Lakes Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne (aka the New Orleans East Land Bridge).  This land bridge acts as a very important speed bump to storm surge entering Lake Pontchartrain which threatens all the north and south shore communities.   The state plan to build floodgates on the two passes is not likely to happen soon but even with the gates for those outside the levee, elevating homes and evacuation are paramount.    For those inside the levee, they have some level of protection, but inside the levee subsidence rates have been very high, and are cause for concern. 

For both these surge consortium efforts, PC is conducting analysis of how surge moves through the region.   We have discovered that surge behaves differently depending on whether the storm moves to the left (east side) or to the right (west side) of the city.  The contrasting patterns of surge are discussed for Hurricanes Isaac and Katrina in PC's reports - which can be found on our technical reports webpage.