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US Army Corps of Engineers spearheading Port Arthur Project to reduce risk of storm surges, flood damage

The Port Arthur Project has been underway since 2017. The plan is to raise existing levees and build new ones. Some would be as tall as 19 feet.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Port Arthur Project leaders met with residents Thursday to discuss the impact of these new flood protection measures on their properties. 

The $863 million project is being worked on by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Drainage District 7.  

Their objective is to reduce risk from coastal storm surge and flood damage for residents and businesses within coastal hazard zones in Jefferson County, according to their website.  

Ellen Clark and her husband Clayton are lifelong Port Arthur residents. Their home is next to the seawall.

Clark says when you live in Southeast Texas, you learn how to be flexible. She keeps telling people they are “battle worn.”

“We came to this meeting, mostly for fact finding, we want to know how the construction of the wall is going to impact our property as to whether or not we're going to be able to see over the sea wall or whether or not we're going to be able to see the water or all we're going to see is a wall,” she said. 

They came looking for answers from people like Rob Thomas, the chief engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Galveston.

“We want to talk to people that live here and get their feedback on how to make the project better. Like if there's where it's impacting someone if we can modify the project in some way. You know, we try to do that,” Thomas said. 

The Port Arthur project has been underway since 2017. The plan is to raise existing levees and build new ones.

Some would be as tall as 19 feet.

“It's going to change the way that the structure looks so you might see basically kind of a vertical wall and now you'll have a bigger concrete vertical steel before, but it just means that you're going to be safe or you're going to be better protected than you were before,” Thomas said. 

Even now, some things are still up in the air.

"They've been very nice to tell me they don't know what the impact is going to be to our property but they will find out and they will contact us,” Clark said. 

The Clarks say they understand the importance of the project.

“It's not that we're frustrated from the standpoint that it's going to be done, or that we're going to have to live with construction, because that's just one of the sacrifices you have to make as a citizen is just that you want to have knowledge in advance,” Clark said. 

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