Town hall meeting on damaged levee set for Thursday

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Residents will have the chance to ask questions and find out more information about a damaged levee at a town hall meeting 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the gymnasium in the Carl Parker Center at Lamar State College-Port Arthur.

The topic of discussion will be the damaged floodwall near Taylor Bayou.

Jefferson County Drainage District 7 (DD7) is organizing the meeting with support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the City of Port Arthur.

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USACE public affairs officer Randy Cephus said representatives from the Corps would be there to engage with the public and to update them on the levee system.

“We’re going to be providing an overall update on what happened, the extent of the damage and what are our possible courses of action,” Cephus said.

He said they would also discuss long-term repairs for the wall while more immediate measures are taken in the present.

“And we’ll be able to answer any questions that the public have,” Cephus said.

Port Arthur public information officer Risa Carpenter said the mayor would be speaking at the event.

“The project is between us and Drainage District 7, but of course the city wants to speak with the residents of Port Arthur and open the lines of communication,” Carpenter said.

Cephus counseled vigilance as well for area residents since the peak of hurricane season is coming up.

“The chain is only as strong as its weakest link — and this is basically a weak link that took place in the system,” he said.

Cephus said Thursday’s meeting would also include tips on how to prepare for an evacuation and what sort of supplies are needed in an emergency kit.

“The peak of hurricane season is coming. … We need to get the system back up to speed,” Cephus said.

DD7 notified the USACE Tuesday morning regarding the damage in the wall. The floodwall is part of the Port Arthur Vicinity Hurricane Flood Protection system, part of a joint venture between DD7 and USACE.

Currently, there are 281 miles of concrete and earthen outfall ditches, 36 miles of levee and seawalls and 20 pump stations in the district.