Federal government sends $2.6B to Louisiana for coastal, waterway, flood projects

By Victor Skinner, The Center Square contributor

Louisiana is set to receive a combined $2.6 billion for coastal, waterway and flood projects through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and disaster relief from Hurricane Ida.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, announced Wednesday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allocate more than $643 million to the state from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to fund 21 coastal waterway and flood projects, including $378 million for construction of the Morganza-to-the-Gulf Hurricane Protection System, $125 million for Southwest Coastal Louisiana Hurricane Protections and nearly $53 million for the Atchafalaya Basin.

“Louisiana communities have waited years, sometimes decades, to see progress on Army Corps projects,” Cassidy said. “This funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package is crucial to protect our state against future Hurricanes and floods.”

The money is on top of more than $2 billion in Hurricane Ida disaster relief approved by Congress in September. The disaster relief includes $783 million for the New Orleans to Venice Hurricane Protection System in Plaquemines Parish, $450 million for West Shore, Lake Pontchartrain for levee infrastructure, $162 million for the Atchafalaya Basin, and $125 million for the Comite Diversion Canal, among other projects.

“This disaster aid is critical in our effort to rebuild after Hurricane Ida and prevent damage from future storms,” Cassidy said. “There is more to do. I will continue to work for additional resources to help communities fully recover.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards briefly discussed the “exciting news” about the “tremendous funding” on his monthly public radio news program Wednesday.

“This is a big deal,” Edwards said.

Edwards elaborated in a prepared statement.

“I would like to thank President Biden for recognizing the urgent need for storm protection and flood control funding after touring and seeing firsthand the devastation caused by Hurricane Ida last fall,” Edwards said. “I would also like to commend the members of our Congressional Delegation who advocated for disaster relief. Additionally, I applaud Sen. Cassidy and Rep. Carter for their instrumental roles in securing funds for Louisiana’s coast through the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”

“Our unrelenting message has been that Louisiana’s coastal crisis is a national crisis,” he said. “Investments in coastal protection and restoration make life in south Louisiana possible, protect interstate commerce, and support major economic engines that supply goods and services to our entire country. Today’s federal investments show that we are being heard and rewarded for our good work.”

Edwards noted the Army Corps also dedicated a cumulative $848 million to states bordering the Lower Mississippi River to reinforce levees and improve the channel. A Cassidy news release contained a full list of funded projects, though total dollar amounts for some remain unknown pending cost estimates from the Army Corps.

Chip Kline, board chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, applauded the federal funding.

“This historic federal investment should be seen as a national endorsement of Louisiana’s coastal program,” Kline said. “We are seeing, for the first time, significant federal investment in Southwest Coastal, the Atchafalaya Basin, and Morganza to the Gulf. Residents across South Louisiana will benefit from this tremendous investment in our coast. Today is a great day for Coastal Louisiana.”

The funding unveiled Wednesday came the day after U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency will grant $5.7 million to Westlake to remove debris from Hurricane Laura.

“Hurricane Laura hit Westlake hard, and many are still rebuilding,” Kennedy said. “I am grateful for resources that will help southwest Louisiana continue to recover.”

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