Gulf Coast, Mississippi River Cities Eager for Flood Funding

By Michael Phillis.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — When Hurricane Ida hit last summer, a storm surge overwhelmed a levee and gushed into Ted Falgout’s coastal Louisiana home, destroying his furniture and the beloved framed photos of his twin sons kissing him on their first day of school, then again when they graduated high school.

“That water was probably 60% mud,” said Falgout, who’s hoping relief is on the way for his community in Larose, about 30 miles southwest of New Orleans.

As climate change makes hurricanes stronger and wetter and increases storm surges, cities on the Louisiana coast and Mississippi River are hoping President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will provide badly needed funding to fortify locks, levees and other flood protections. But community groups and advocates fear smaller cities will struggle to navigate the maze of government programs and miss out on the rare chance to protect against rising waters and heavy rains.

“I think the agencies are still figuring a lot of this out,” said Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, which advocates for communities along the river.