As Louisiana’s southernmost extending parish, Plaquemines Parish is unique in both its geographic proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and its division by the Mississippi River. This location gives Plaquemines economic advantages, provides for beautiful natural surroundings and allows for many recreational opportunities. The parish serves as an operational center for the offshore oil and gas industry and is an active hub for the commercial seafood industry. Due to its warm climate, Plaquemines is the top citrus-producing parish in Louisiana. Its location, however, also leaves Plaquemines and its residents open to many hazards that threaten the future vitality of the community, including land loss and flood risk. Nearly all of Plaquemines is vulnerable to frequent flooding of some sort: stormwater, river flooding, storm surge, and/or backwater flooding.
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We returned to each parish with a broad vision for our coast, including more specific visions for communities according to low, moderate and high flood risk. Residents evaluated these visions and prioritized more detailed strategies in table discussions.
In the Round 3 meetings, the project team presented an overall vision based on the combination of three criteria: The vision residents described at previous community meetings, current and future environmental conditions and the best planning practices.
At the meetings, residents engaged in a series of instant polling questions using a real-time polling tool, and then evaluated the overall vision presented by the project team. Then, they reviewed and gave preference feedback on a wide range of strategies that the project team is considering for inclusion in the final plan. Residents used stickers to indicate which strategies are the best fit for their parish and added more ideas and comments.
The majority of Plaquemines residents selected improving transportation, followed by jobs and job training as the best strategy to retain youth in the parish. Residents would also like to expand established communities that are located on higher ground.
Activity two focused on the range of projects, programs and policies that residents had proposed according to low, moderate and high flood risk in previous meetings. Residents discussed the strategies shown and used green and red stickers to indicate which strategies they liked or disliked for each of those flood risk levels.
Residents ranked the following strategies in each category as the most important for the future of Plaquemines Parish.
Stormwater Management & Greenspace
- Plant trees to break up storm surge
- Dredge canals, drains and culverts
- Green levees
- Improved drainage system
- Culvert/ditch maintenance
- Cross-parish stormwater management strategy
Housing & Development
- Expand boat harbors
- Incentivize essential service providers
- Raised and protected neighborhoods
- Drainage requirements for new developments
- Homeowner tax credit for elevating homes
- Public boat docks
- Improve street lights on major corridors
- Emergency boats for disasters
- Shuttle service for seniors and/or specific programs
- Improved evacuation routes
Education, Economy & Jobs
- Local financial assistance and loans for fisherman
- Commercial fishing
- Job training programs
- Support aquaculture
- Provide incentives to retain and attract good teachers
- Coastal restoration construction jobs and training
Culture & Recreation
- Public boat launches
- Community gathering and market spaces
- Community gardens and planting programs
- Family friendly recreation in town centers
- Healthy living programs and activities
We held 21 meetings at 19 locations within the six pilot parishes. Residents recommended short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies according to projected low, moderate and high flood risk across LA SAFE parishes.
551 participants | 3,300 ideas
The LA SAFE Round 2 meetings focused on conversations in smaller communities. These meetings occurred in 19 specific towns and places suggested by residents in the first round of meetings. Three of the meetings were for non-English speaking communities. These smaller meetings allowed the team to present a more in-depth view of the social, environmental and economic trends in each community, and to conduct a more focused conversation about adaptation strategies to address increased flood risk.
The LA SAFE team identified the most discussed topics from the first round of meetings, and created nine question card topics sorted into three categories: Economy & Jobs, Environment & Sustainability and Community & Culture. At the meeting, residents discussed one topic from each category, and placed ideas on the map provided. For each card, residents described short-term (within 10 years), medium-term (within 25 years) and long-term (within 50 years) solutions for adapting to future land change and increased flood risk. Looking 50 years back and 50 years forward, residents discussed the challenges and opportunities for themselves, for their children and grandchildren as well as generations to come.
In this series of 21 community meetings, residents pinpointed challenges, proposed solutions and collectively described a future across different types of environments and different levels of risk. The project team combined their ideas and mapped proposed strategies. These community recommendations will form the basis for the projects, programs and policies that LA SAFE pursues. The project team will review these ideas, taking into consideration current and future environmental risk, as well as the best practices in planning.
During the series of five meetings held in Plaquemines Parish, residents identified quality of life, stormwater management, jobs and job training, economic development and transportation as opportunity areas to help their communities become more adaptable.
Residents in the high risk communities expressed the need for lower insurance rates and/or government grants to elevate homes and other methods to protect from flooding during storms. They also shared the challenges from the lack of investments in their communities, specifically on the east bank. Additionally, the fishing community described the need for improved or new safe harbors, more public docks and programs that help fisherman in times of disaster and/or low market prices for shrimp.
Residents across all risk zones also envisioned a future with expanded public transportation options, an improved drainage system and an education pipeline that connects students to the environment and coastal economy to provide a pathway to employment.
We brought the best land loss and flood risk modeling in the world to the table from our partners at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority alongside an exceptional team of public sector, philanthropic, non-profit and private sector partners. Residents brought their own personal experience from communities across parishes as well as their goals and vision for a Louisiana we know and love.
Residents described challenges, strengths and opportunities for the future.
505 participants | 2,000 ideas
The first round of meetings included six community meetings across the six pilot parishes. The LA SAFE team showed information on historic land loss over the last 50 years as well as expected land loss in the next 50 years even with full implementation of the Coastal Master Plan. The team also discussed projected increased flood risk that results from the loss of our wetland buffer and the migration trends taking place across the LA SAFE region. As Louisianans have made the decision to relocate, we have seen resources for everyday services such as education, infrastructure and healthcare shift accordingly.
At roundtable discussions, groups of six to eight residents talked about the ways they have seen land loss impact changes to their environment, economies and communities in their lifetimes. They also discussed what they think are the most important things to protect, and their hopes for the future of their parish.
The project team organized all of the comments into strengths, challenges and opportunities.
Plaquemines Parish is located on a long, narrow peninsula divided by the Mississippi River and levees. Therefore, the west bank and east bank are only accessible by a winding road system and two ferries that are 20 miles apart. This scenario presents several obstacles for access to goods and services throughout the parish. Residents expressed their frustrations for the lack of retail, financial and healthcare options outside of the more populated portions of the parish, such as Belle Chasse. Many residents are forced to travel to New Orleans to access a variety of retail options and supplies.
Like many coastal communities, Plaquemines’ residents are keenly aware of the ever-changing environment and the opportunities they must embrace in order to become a more resilient community. Residents want to seize the chance to create more economic opportunities through entrepreneurship, retail developments, manufacturing and tourism. A small population of residents recognizes that the parish will continue to experience land loss and therefore that there is a need for home elevations and voluntary relocations in the parish’s most vulnerable areas.
Stay tuned for more information regarding the fourth and fifth round of meetings in your parish.
Round 4: Community Meetings
In this fourth round of engagement, residents will have the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the draft strategies developed by the LA SAFE team after several rounds of collaborative meetings over the course of the year. These draft strategies will be presented in a variety of settings that could include focused discussions with participants from previous meetings, including public and elected officials; casual open-house gatherings; or table presentations at local festivals and other public spaces. The planning team will take these final suggestions into consideration as they complete the design of one adaptation strategy for each parish that addresses challenges and opportunities unique to that parish.
ROUND 5: PARISHWIDE MEETINGS
All of our work on this project brings us all together for this incredible moment, with residents invited to get an up-close and personal look at examples of parish-specific projects and policies. They’ll also get a chance to vote directly for the ones they want to see move forward in the process. This is it. This is what we’ve been building toward, so you can offer feedback on our collaboration and learn more about plans to complete your parish’s adaptation plan!
Download the latest push card or flier to help spread the word for the upcoming meeting in your parish.
We Need You! Get Involved Today.
Interested in leading a table discussion at the next meeting or hosting a community event? Let us know! We look forward to having you assist us in creating a better future environment for Louisiana.