POINTE-AUX-CHENES, La. (BRPROUD) – In southern Terrebonne Parish, the Pointe-au-Chien tribe lives close to where Hurricane Ida made landfall. As they clean up after the storm, they are making a push for more coastal protections to keep their community safe from future storms.
The tribe has lived in southern Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes for hundreds of years. They said if the marshes aren’t better protected, big storms like Hurricane Ida could further put their community in danger.
“The Gulf is almost against the levee already,” said Donald Dardar, Second Chairman for the Pointe-au-Chien Tribe.
The Morganza on the Gulf project runs along the western side of the tribe’s community. There is work being done currently to make the levee several feet higher.
The tribe is no stranger to flooding with major storms. Being generations of fishermen, they can handle some water, but as the marshland disappears, it welcomes more dangers with each storm.
“What makes it hard over here, we’re kind of in-between the Atchafalaya and the Mississippi River, so it makes it a little bit harder for them to pump sediment here to rebuild our marshes and to try and save the marshes that we do have left,” said Chairman Charles Verdin.
The levee system in place was funded through the parish and it held up against Ida. Verdin said he would like to see the barrier islands restored since they are the first wall of defense in a hurricane. It can slow down the water before it reaches the levee.
Tribe members’ homes took a beating in Ida. Many are built on high stilts to escape the water. Ida was a wind heavy storm that made those houses more susceptible to damage.
“To rebuild and rebuild stronger because prediction is all storms are going to get stronger and stronger,” Dardar said.
After Ida, some members of the tribe regretfully said they couldn’t come back and rebuild and that more needs to be done to protect the shrinking estuaries where the fishing community makes their living.
“It’s heartbreaking just to see our community… What’s happening with it,” Verdin said. “You know, we just basically disappear. If it wasn’t for this levee right now, you probably would have water up to the road or here a lot of times.“
If the coastal protections are not put in place, the tribe fears they will be forced to leave their homes and move farther inland. But Verdin said even if they move, the next community farther in will also be faced with the same risks in time.