LA SAFE community meetings set; online activity available

Lousiana’s

Small group meetings next step towards development of coastal community adaptation plans

LA SAFE — Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments — announced today the dates and locations for a series of community meetings in six coastal parishes beginning May 30 through June 8.

To gather resident input, an online engagement activity has also been launched and is available on the LA SAFE website, LASAFE.la.gov/engagement.

LA SAFE is a planning initiative coordinated by the Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit, in partnership with Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund.

The smaller community meetings follow six parishwide meetings held in March and April that engaged nearly 500 residents in Plaquemines, Terrebonne, Jefferson, St. John the Baptist, Lafourche and St. Tammany parishes. The parishwide meetings included presentations about past, present and projected land loss, and economic and population changes in each parish. Participants had the opportunity to share how these changes had impacted them, and their vision for how their parish should adapt in the face of land loss and increased flood risks.

The community meetings will allow residents to begin the process of designing specific parishwide adaptation strategies with at least one project, program or policy that would be funded through LA SAFE.

“Often, when people think of coastal land loss and flooding, they tend to focus on structural protections, coastal restoration and individual property enhancements. These are obviously important, but are only part of the conversation communities need to begin having,” said Mathew Sanders, Resilience Program and Policy Administrator with the Louisiana Office of Community Development. “For a challenge as complex as our changing coast, successful adaptation relies on parishes and residents expanding the conversation beyond just physical alterations.”

By using an open, transparent and community-driven process, LA SAFE provides coastal residents with the opportunity to learn in more detail the exact risks their community faces, to hear from their neighbors what their concerns are, and together, to develop a common vision for the varied strategies local communities can create to ensure impacted parishes continue to thrive. For residents who were unable to attend the parishwide meetings, LA SAFE has launched a virtual meeting activity at LASAFE.la.gov. On the site, residents can view a brief video about LA SAFE’s goals, review the presentations from the previous parishwide meetings and participate in a short engagement activity to share their input.

Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Community Resilience Program Officer Liz Williams said the success of the LA SAFE planning initiative relies on engaging everyone and ensuring residents have the information they need to help plan the future of their community.

“LA SAFE is providing residents with the best information that exists about the various scenarios around possible coastal changes in coming decades and then providing the opportunity for residents to plan together how they believe their own community should respond,” Williams said. “With the reality of coastal land loss and increased flooding, no single approach offers the best hope for coastal Louisiana. Physical protection, coastal restoration, property improvements combined with local, community-driven adaptation plans provide the best hope for coastal communities to thrive now and in the future.”

The community meetings will be followed by two additional rounds of parishwide meetings before the end of the year.

Residents can follow the planning process and receive updates on the LA SAFE initiative at LASAFE.la.gov, on the LA SAFE Facebook page as well as on Twitter and Instagram (all @livelasafe).

A full list of the upcoming community meetings is below. All meetings are from 6 – 7:45 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Food will be provided. Anyone requiring special assistance due to a disability to participate in a meeting, or who requires childcare or transportation to attend, should contact Foundation for Louisiana at 225.772.1372 at least five working days prior to the meeting.

JEFFERSON PARISH
May 30 — East Bank at East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie
May 31 — West Bank at West Jefferson Medical Center, 1101 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero
June 1 — Jean Lafitte/Lafitte at Lafitte Civic Center, 4917 City Park Drive, Lafitte

LAFOURCHE PARISH
May 30 — Vietnamese community meeting at St. Peter Catholic Church, 13040 La. Hwy. 308, Larose
May 31 – South Lafourche at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 17980 W. Main St., Galliano
June 1 — Central Lafourche at Lockport Fire Station, 806 Crescent Ave., Lockport
June 5 – North Lafourche at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 204 Madewood Drive, Thibodaux

PLAQUEMINES PARISH
June 5 (4 – 6 p.m.) — Vietnamese community meeting at Buras Community Center/YMCA, 36342 Hwy. 11, Buras
June 5 (6 – 8 p.m.) — Cambodian community meeting at Buras Community Center/YMCA, 36342 Hwy. 11, Buras
June 6 — North Plaquemines at Belle Chasse Auditorium, 8398 La. Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse
June 7 — East Bank at Percy Griffin Community Center, 15577 Hwy. 15, Davant
June 8 — Lower Plaquemines at Buras Community Center/YMCA, 36342 Hwy. 11, Buras

ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST
June 6 — Reserve/Garyville/LaPlace at Regala Gym, 200 Regala Park Road, Reserve
June 7 — Pleasure Bend at Pleasure Bend Fire Station, 1200 La. Hwy. 643, Vacherie
June 8 — Wallace/Edgard at West St. John Elementary School (cafeteria), 2555 La. Hwy. 18, Edgard

ST. TAMMANY PARISH
June 6 — Slidell at Towers Building, 520 Old Spanish Trail (fifth floor), Slidell
June 7 — Covington at Covington City Council Chambers, 222 E Kirkland St., Covington
June 8 — Mandeville at Spitzfaden Community Center, 3090 E. Causeway Approach, Mandeville

TERREBONNE PARISH
May 31 — Gibson/Gray/Schriever at North Branch Library, 4130 W. Park Ave., Gray
June 1 — Montegut/Pointe Aux Chenes at Montegut Recreation Center, 107 Recreation Drive, Montegut
June 3 (2 – 3:45 p.m.) — Dulac/Cocodrie/Chauvin at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, 8124 La. Hwy. 56, Chauvin

About LA SAFE
LA SAFE is a planning process to develop a common vision with coastal residents intended to guide parish-specific decision-making in coming decades relative to projected flood risks. The Louisiana Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit, in partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana’s Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund and the elected leadership of the parish, is coordinating the LA SAFE planning initiative. The planning process is a key step in the implementation of LA SAFE, a $40 million initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Once plans are developed, the LA SAFE team will use the balance of funds to invest in proposed programs and projects. LA SAFE is a community-focused resilience and adaptation policy framework complementing the state’s Coastal Master Plan.