MANDEVILLE, La. (WGNO) — Two years after Hurricane Ida, the two public fishing piers along Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish reman closed and both for the same reason.
“I don’t think that these storms are going to be once every 10 years, once every 5. I mean, they’re coming,” Mandeville Mayor Clay Madden told WGNO News. The fishing pier at Sunset Point in Mandeville is one of the most picturesque locations in the city. But Ida decimated it.
In the days after Hurricane Ida, Madden was one of the first elected leaders in Southeast Louisiana to begin advocating to “build back better.” 16 years prior to Ida, Hurricane Katrina also seriously damaged the Mandeville fishing pier.
But Mandeville’s pier isn’t the only one that remains closed for repairs.
“FEMA typically replaces exactly what you lost,” Saint Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper said, referring to the traditional storm repair process. In the Slidell area, the St. Tammany fishing pier was also damaged by Ida and also remains closed.
So what’s taking so long to get the piers repaired and reopened? Both Cooper and Madden say they don’t want to continue to spend taxpayer money to repair the fishing piers only to see them damaged again by future storms. So they want to build them back better to improve their chances of surviving another big hit. But that also means the repair costs will be higher, triggering new levels of red tape at both the state and federal levels.
Mandeville’s plan is still in the design phase, so no final construction estimates were available. But Madden says the city is beginning to clear some of the bigger hurdles to hopefully begin the work sometime next year.
FEMA is going to give us more money to build a more resilient product that should withstand future storms,” he said.
As for the parish’s pier near Slidell, Cooper expects it to cost about $3.5 million. The parish hopes to replace the wooden portions of the pier with concrete.
“It’s all about making is stronger, more resilient, more sustainable, so that we don’t have to take the pier out of service for our citizens who enjoy it so much,” Cooper said.
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