Study time is over; let’s move

Leander J. Troxler
September 23, 2008
Garnet G. White
September 25, 2008

The figures have been adjusted and it appears only 2,500 homes and businesses in south Terrebonne Parish took on water during Hurricane Ike.

ONLY 2,500. Although it’s well shy of the original guesstimate posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it’s a major number if you are among the many citizens left trying to salvage your possessions.

The last three weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for our region. We’ve stared down two hurricanes in 11 days time. After a lot of tears, shouting and finger-pointing, it’s time to figure out what’s next for Terrebonne and neighboring parishes.

For years, we’ve been told a direct hit by a hurricane could be catastrophic for this area.

On Labor Day, Gustav made a direct hit on Terrebonne. The last time the parish saw an eye of a storm pass was Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Aside from the continued loss of vital wetland protection, little has changed since then. Betsy moved ashore unhampered as did Gustav.

Days later, Hurricane Ike passed within 200 miles of the Louisiana coast in a path reminiscent of Hurricane Rita three years earlier. The 9-foot surge brought water as far inland as Houma, which is situated 35 miles from the coast.

The impact – emotionally, structurally and financially – is apparent. What is uncertain, however, is when this region will finally get the hurricane protection we rightfully deserve.

This week, state and local officials are in Washington, D.C., working with our Congressional delegates to end once and for all the bureaucracy that has stalled the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system. Congress appropriate $30 million two years ago for work to begin. And yet, in a historic month when the Tri-parishes survived two hits in 11 days, nothing has been done.

The time for studying the problem is passed. We have a plan. The money has been approved. It’s time for action.