Twenty years ago, Broussard saw there was a need to repair an old levee that separates the freshwater marshes and the saltwater marshes along Schooner Bayou, near White Lake.
Over time, Mother Nature had created 17 different breaches in the levee, allowing salt water to flow into the freshwater Mermentau Basin. Saltwater in a freshwater basin is not good, because many rice farmers in Vermilion Parish pump water from the Mermentau Basin to flood their rice fields.
Broussard, a past farmer himself, realized the harm being caused by having the breaches in the levee, especially during hurricane season. He tried to get help from Louisiana governors but it fell on deaf ears. Right before Hurricane Rita, according to Broussard, Rep. Charles Boustany made Broussard a promise that he would seek funds to help seal off the holes in the levee.
Then came Hurricane Rita and its storm surge helped widen the 17 breaches and pushed more saltwater into the freshwater basin.
Suddenly,what Broussard had been yelling about for 20 years, others finally took greater notice because of the storm surge that pushed saltwater into the freshwater marsh.
Boustany came through as promised with $1.6 million in federal funds dedicated to help redo the levee along Schooner Bayou. The project to repair five miles of levee began three years ago and as of this week, it is 99 percent complete.
Broussard, along with a handful of police jurors, took a ride in the Sheriff’s boat to visit the rebuilt dirt levee that is six feet above sea levee.
“We finally got it done, thank God,” said Broussard as he stood on top of the new levee. “This levee is for the future and protection of the Mermentau Basin. A lot of thanks goes to Rep. Boustany. He deserves the praise because he took the time and effort to get the money for the project.”
The project was done by Southern Delta Construction out of Mississippi. Sellers and Associates out Abbeville was the engineering firm on the project.
Gene Sellers, the engineer, said the only thing left to do is plant marsh grass on the dirt levee.