Belle Chasse, La. - Hurricane Isaac barely reached Category 1 status but it caused catastrophic damage in parts of Plaquemines Parish where the storm surge overtopped levees.
Now, as the parish goes through another hurricane season without federal money for protection, Parish President Billy Nungesser says Plaquemines needs to move forward on its own.
"We tried to get the east bank levee in the federal system and failed many times so we designed a levee to the federal standards," says Nungesser.
Nungesser and Coastal Zone Management Director PJ Hahn attended the dedication of the Bubba Dove Flood Control Structure in Terrebonne Parish.
Nungesser says it's is an example of what can be done with state and local money in just a few short years.
"I think it's great," he says. "I think you're going to see more of that along coastal Louisiana. We can't wait for the federal government to come in here and protect us. It's going to be a lot of initiatives on our own."
Terrebonne residents help pay for their protection with a sales tax but Nungesser thinks Plaquemines could do it using money it already has.
Plaquemines had a budget surplus the last few years and recently bonded out $50 million to build a berm on the west bank.
That should lower storm surge by at least five feet.
"Without that storm surge protection, nothing else matters," says Nungesser. "The roads, the infrastructure improvements, you've gotta protect those first so I think you're going to see more initiatives like you saw down at those locks by local government taking control and saying if the federal government's not going to do it, we're going to do it ourselves."
With the Bubba Dove in operation for the first time this hurricane season, leaders call it a bold statement of what all coastal parishes can do to protect themselves.
"We're in the fight for our survival," says Senator David Vitter. "We're not going anywhere, we're going to win that fight, pure and simple."
From Belle Chasse to Venice, there is so much to fight for in Plaquemines Parish.