Coastal Day 2019 welcomed the public to join in a unique, interactive expo showcasing Terrebonne Parish’s flood risk reduction and coastal restoration projects.
On Wednesday, Terrebonne Parish Consolidated Government hosted their second Coastal Day at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center. 1,300 individuals of all ages were welcomed with a showcase of the progression our parish has made with flood protection and coastal restoration projects.
The Civic Center’s main room was filled with pieces of large machinery, tractors, dump trucks and more for the public to view. The entire length of the closed bleacher seating was filled with renderings and photographs of floodgates and levees for the public to view, with the understand that the public rarely gets to see the construction of these multi-million dollar projects that protect us from nature’s rising waters.
Along the left-hand side of the civic center, the wall partition was partially closed, and colored tape marked off the TPCG Redundant levee compared to the Morganza to the Gulf levee. As you walked next to the wall, it left you with a sense of wonder as you realized the massive structure’s size and what it takes to protect the area we call home.
Also on hand to showcase their works and answer questions were various agencies and coastal groups such as Restore or Retreat and Morganza Action Committee. At the Restore or Retreat booth, visitors were able to utilize virtual reality goggles to take a 360-degree tour of our coast and view some of the efforts coastal scientists are making when it comes to restoration along our coast.
Guests of Coastal Day were also treated to a press conference where Shell Oil Company announced the donation of 4,139 acres of wetlands to Terrebonne Parish. This massive land donation will enable Terrebonne parish to make needed improvements to its flood risk reduction and community resiliency system.
The property, located in northern Terrebonne Parish north and south of US Highway 90 and between La. highways 24 and 311, is adjacent to 200 acres already owned by TPCG and will enable the redirection of stormwater from the most highly developed residential, retail and industrial corridor in the Parish.
When fully developed as a piece of natural resiliency infrastructure, the property will have the potential to store almost 1.8 billion gallons of stormwater produced by the areas surrounding Ellendale, Bayou Cane, Gray, Schriever, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Bayou Terrebonne in the Houma area and then release it slowly into the adjacent swamp and waterways over several days after storm events. This slower release not only reduces flood risk for homes and businesses in the Houma area, but also improves water quality in the adjacent wetlands by filtering stormwater naturally before releasing it back out in to the environment.
“We want to thank Shell for this donation of 4,139 acres to act as an important stormwater retention area that will greatly assist us in our present and future works to reduce flood risks to a great many of our residents and businesses,” said Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove. “We greatly appreciate Shell’s generous donation and desire to work with us to help solve a major drainage challenge for the citizens of Terrebonne Parish and we are thankful for many years of partnerships with Shell and many more to come.”
Rick Tallant, VP of Production for the Gulf of Mexico with Shell said the donation showed the company’s investment in the area.
“This property donation is just the latest example of Shell’s commitment to the community and coast,” Tallant said. “Having over 4,000 active employees plus another 4,000+ retirees who call Louisiana home, it is important that we do things that support keeping our community and coast a vibrant and sustainable home for our people and our business and this property donation is a great way for us to make a significant contribution to resiliency and sustainability.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards was also on hand and made remarks about the determination of Terrebonne parish and our efforts to protect and restore our coastline.
“…Not only do you have coastal day here in Terrebonne Parish, people show up,” shares Gov. Edwards. “I really am amazed at the number of people who came out tonight. That makes a tremendous difference. I want to thank all the businesses, civic organizations and government officials who made this possible. And more importantly, I want to thank each and every one of you for your support of coastal protection and restoration.”
“We have a strong appreciation for our natural environment with a recreational fishing and hunting perspective, but we also recognize how important our commercial fisheries, navigation, the seafood industry and tourism are to our state and we are deeply connected to the energy resources located offshore,” the Governor continued. “However, what has set us apart is that we’ve also found the way to deal with the impacts of our changing coast in a way that maximizes science based decision making and minimize as politics.”
The Governor shared that since 2007, 111 projects have been completed across all 20 coastal parishes. He commended our local delegation for the progress we are making, stating that we more than anyone know and understand coastal protection and restoration. He also offered accolades on our parish’s continued championing of projects not just here in Terrebonne but in neighboring Lafourche parish as well.
The press conference was rounded out with a presentation for Tony Alford, Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation District board president. Alford has served in this capacity for 15 years. Gov. Edwards read a proclamation recognizing Alford’s service and Parish President Dove presented Alford with the key to the city.
Coastal Day concluded with two panel discussions and questions from the public on any matters dealing with the coast. The first panel to take the stage was state, local and federal representatives. The panel included Bren Haase, CPRA; Alexandra Caret, OCD; Mart Black, Terrebonne Parish Coastal Protection; Mark Wingate, USACE; and Mitch Marmande, Delta Coast. The second panel included individuals representing various parish partnerships including Cas Bridges, Chevron; Donnie Garrison, Shell Pipeline; Selby Bush, BHP; Tim Allen, Apache Louisiana Minerals; and John Harrington, ConocoPhillips.