AMELIA, La. (AP) — A large floodgate is expected to be in place on the Houma Navigation Canal in time for the start of the 2013 hurricane season.

The Advocate reports ( the structure is designed protect much of Terrebonne Parish from storm surge generated by hurricanes.

The Houma Navigation Canal "Bubba Dove" Floodgate, under construction at Bollinger Shipyards in Amelia, will be part of a $49 million complex that stretches across the canal south of Dulac.

Funding comes from state and local sources, including a sales tax approved by Terrebonne voters in 2001, said Reggie Dupre, executive director of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District.

"The alternative was how long do we keep waiting," Dupre said of the decision to go ahead without federal funding. "We figured we'd be better off getting protection initially."

The floodgate is 42 feet high, including 13-foot flood walls, 273 feet long and 60 feet deep. Most of the time, this steel floodgate will remain open, but in the event of a major storm or flood, the gate will swing shut. It will take about an hour to close the gate and another five hours to sink it into place, Dupre said.

Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet said Hurricane Ike in 2008 was a turning point for how the parish approached hurricane protection.

"Up until 2008, I think the people of Terrebonne Parish were waiting for the federal government to come in and help us," Claudet said. But things changed after Ike's storm surge poured into the Houma Navigation Canal, flooding portions of Houma, he said. The canal connects the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Because funding is from state and local sources, the work is not part of the federal lock complex in the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection project. The Army Corps of Engineers is analyzing that project — a process that could take years, Dupre said. So the floodgate should provide some protection until the larger project is in place.

The structure is named for 22-year-old Bubba Dove, who died in a traffic accident several years ago. He was the son of state Rep. Gordon Dove, R-Houma.


Information from: The Advocate,