St. John the Baptist Parish First to Adopt State Developed Climate Resilience Strategy
Friday, October 4, 2019
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, the St. John the Baptist Parish Council approved an ordinance introduced by President Natalie Robottom to adopt the St. John the Baptist Parish Adaptation Strategy, a climate resilience plan developed through Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptation for Future Environments (LA SAFE) Program. The strategy, which is the product of a year-long community driven planning process, proposes solutions to physical, social, and economic vulnerabilities associated with a changing coast and increasing flood risk. Adoption of the plan aims to build the LA SAFE strategy into the local framework for policy and project development as a long-term vision for growth and resilience.
While St. John is the first parish to formally adopt such a plan, the Louisiana Office of Community Development’s LA SAFE Program released similar strategies for 5 other parishes earlier this year. Collectively, the plans form part of an initial push to promote regional solutions and comprehensive resilient change to Louisiana’s coastal communities.
OCD Executive Director Pat Forbes said, “We commend St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom and the Parish Council for adopting LA SAFE resilience-building strategies in anticipation of increasing coastal land loss and flood risk.”
“St. John the Baptist Parish has taken the next step in preparing its communities to address housing, economic, social and transportation needs to weather future disasters and adapt to environmental changes over time. Facing increasing risks, now is the time to start addressing the future needs of our communities,” Forbes said.
Several key recommendations of the plan include:
· Manage flooding and subsidence through updated water management programs and policies;
· Create safe and vibrant communities that attract and retain residents of all ages;
· Improve mobility throughout the Parish by promoting multiple modes of transportation;
· Strengthen and diversify local economies by enhancing coordination among schools and local industry; and
· Protect and promote historic and cultural assets of the Parish.
In addition to a streetscape project funded by the LA SAFE Program to retrofit Airline Highway and Main Streets in LaPlace with transportation improvements and green infrastructure, the Parish currently has several projects underway which further meet the goals of the plan, including:
· West Shore Lake Pontchartrain Risk Reduction System – $760 million levee structure constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bringing structural protection from storm surge and hurricanes for the first time in Parish history.
· Lake Pontchartrain Shoreline Protection – Funded by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), this project consists of a rock jetty breakwater system to enhance and protect the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain from erosion.
· Belle Terre Streetscape and Stormwater Enhancements – Funded through the RESTORE Act, this project extends the Airline Highway improvements along Belle Terre Boulevard to Interstate 10.
“As my time as Parish President nears completion, I am proud to bring this plan to the Council for adoption. Following Hurricane Isaac, my Administration worked with residents to implement a recovery strategy covering a wide range of projects to expand Parish infrastructure and improve the quality of life in St. John Parish. With so much work still to be completed, the LA SAFE Strategy will serve as a road map for the next administration to continue making our community safer, stronger and more resilient,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom.
The LA SAFE program is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition and managed by Louisiana OCD. For more information on the LA SAFE strategies, please visit www.lasafe.la.gov. For more information on Parish resilience projects and initiatives, please contact the Planning and Zoning Department at 985-651-5565.