The message is simple: We need to do a lot of work to make our homes and businesses safer from flooding, and that work is getting done – even if progress is slower than locals would prefer.

That was the central theme of Terrebonne Levee Director Reggie Dupre addressed the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

“Morganza was developed in 2008 when we shifted gears and decided we had to do it ourselves (and not wait on the federal government),” Dupre said. “We’ve never gotten a dime out of Congress. If we had waited for the federal government, we’d have a lot of studies, but the seven or eight floodgates or the 30 or so miles of levees we’ve built wouldn’t have been built.”

Dupre brings up an excellent point.

While there is a lot of work remaining in a task that likely will never be truly complete, local taxpayers and agencies such as his own have achieved a tremendous amount of success. The secret, as he pointed out, is that we wouldn’t simply sit idly by and wait for the federal government.

It is still amazing to think about what local people have accomplished with primarily local resources. And Dupre deserves a lot of the credit. He and the Levee District have worked tirelessly to do as much as possible with the limited resources they have and simultaneously to work on getting more help from the state and federal governments.

Perhaps the help we need and deserve will arrive one day, but we couldn’t afford to simply wait for it when so much could be done at the local level.

The down side to this approach, of course, is that the work isn’t as quick or as comprehensive as it could be with an adequate stream of federal money. But it is absolutely the best we could do with what we had.

And it sets up an excellent argument we can use looking ahead to the future. We can convincingly say that our local people and businesses have voluntarily invested in their own futures and that we deserve the assistance we should have had all along.

It may not ever get here. And that is the strong motivator in taking action on our own. If we never get any appreciable federal assistance, at least we will have some flood protection. On the other hand, if we ever do get the help we need, it will augment the protection we have already been able to achieve.

Much work is left to do. But there has already been an incredible amount accomplished. We just have to keep up the good work.


Editorials represent the opinions of the newspaper, not of any individual.