Sen. Vitter tours LaPlace, talks protection

Published 12:40 pm Friday, August 31, 2012



LAPLACE – Saying that the devastation was reminiscent of portions of post-Katrina New Orleans, Sen. David Vitter said Friday that the flooding in LaPlace should serve as a wakeup call that the region needs levee protection from Lake Pontchartrain.

“It’s tragic,” said Vitter, who took a tour of the flooded areas with parish leaders Friday morning. “All we keep hearing from folks is that this sort of flooding has never been seen before. We need to make sure now that it doesn’t happen again.”

Vitter said the state’s federal delegation will work in “lock-step,” with local, state and other federal leaders to continue to push for levee protection along the west shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Vitter said he had not yet spoken with Sen. Mary Landrieu, but said he is confident the state’s Washington, D.C. representation would all be on the same page.

“We always are when it comes to issues such as this,” Vitter said. “Progress typically happens in direct response to disasters like this.”

Throughout his tour of the flooded areas, Vitter said residents he spoke to kept coming back to the same question of whether the vast improvements in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina might have caused the excess of water that pushed into homes and neighborhoods in LaPlace. He said he and other state leaders would have some questions for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We need a true scientific assessment to determine if the improvements elsewhere produced a funnel effect that ravaged St. John Parish.”

Vitter also added that FEMA is in St. John and has a local presence with food, water and other supplies. He said many residents also asked about tarps, which are also on the way.

“We will be getting the blue tarps we have had in the past, but we are also looking toward temporary housing for the more than 3,000 displaced residents of the parish,” Vitter said. “We are currently gathering information about rental properties that are already in the region before we determine how much temporary housing FEMA needs to provide.”