CPRA waiting to assess damage to projects along coast

Elmers Island, Louisiana in 2016. (File photo)

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, headquartered at the Water Campus in Baton Rouge, has spent years reconstructing barrier islands and improving levees on Louisiana’s coast. However, Hurricane Ida may have put a damper on some of those projects.

The most vulnerable projects are the ones under construction, like West Grand Terre, a small barrier island near Grand Isle that CPRA has been working to build with pumped sand, CPRA says. 

Checking on other completed structures in Grand Isle, like some extended beaches, is not of immediate urgency for the company, though they want to survey the damage and see what they can learn to better prepare for the next storm.

The contractors CPRA hires to bring in sand and machinery are the ones who should get back to the projects under construction with their equipment to decide whether they need to pump more sand, according to CPRA officials. 

But many areas that need to be surveyed are still unreachable due to damage, and other systems in the Gulf are making contractors wary. With one system off of the coast this week and a possible second projected for the next, contractors cannot put their equipment back on the vulnerable barrier islands under construction. 

In the meantime, CPRA has third-party contractors with standby pumps helping to alleviate flooding in parishes including Plaquemines and St. Bernard. As one area gets pumped out, CPRA redeploys the pumps to another area in need, although transport to some remote areas is still difficult.

The authority is connecting parishes, levee systems and municipalities across south Louisiana with these pumping companies.