Landrieu visits LaPlace to talk on flood protection

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 27, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu visited the River Parishes for a town hall meeting Wednesday to speak on her experiences during her trip to the Netherlands to come up with a levee system solution for Southeast Louisiana.

The meeting was held in the Joel S. McTopy Chambers in LaPlace. Many residents from all three parishes came out to hear Landrieu speak, as well as share comments of their own.

As Landrieu spoke about what she and more than 40 Louisiana leaders learned from the trip to the Netherlands, she mentioned how 50 percent of their population is below sea level, and yet they came up with a plan that worked.

She said in 1953, a North Sea storm dismantled the Netherlands, which destroyed around 50,000 homes and killed nearly 1,900 people. Even though it took their government around 40 years to complete a project to protect their people and their country, they did indeed do it.

According to Landrieu, the Netherlands increased their storm and flood protections through an elaborate network of dikes, man-made islands and a mile and a half stretch of 62 floodgates designed to protect the country from storms like the one in 1953.

&#8220They have a much more integrated plan,” she said. &#8220They figured out how to keep their people safe, keep their economy and commerce alive and protect their environment. We need to do the same thing. It is our goal to build alliances strong enough to keep the federal level interested.”

Landrieu noted that it will take some time to come up with an integrated plan and execute it, and that it would take a large amount of money as well, but that there is money available that she is looking to get.

&#8220The money that from our oil and gas industry goes into the general fund for the federal government,” she said. &#8220They need to give us some of our money we produce back, so that we can build stronger levee systems.”

One of the audience members questions how much money the government is spending in Iraq, and why some of that money is not being used here.

&#8220Are you sitting down for this,” she said. &#8220Good, because the government is spending $4.5 billion dollars a month in Iraq. Yes, you heard correctly, $4.5 billion a month, and yet we they have a problem with giving us $2 billion a year for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.”

Landrieu said she will continue her efforts in getting Louisiana the help it needs to build stronger, more efficient levee systems, and made it clear that people can live safely near the water.