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Mississippi River Mayors Advocate Resilient Infrastructure Spending

Butterbean/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
The Mississippi River as seen from downtown Baton Rouge. Mayors from up and down the river were in Washington this week lobbying for infrastructure spending.

Several Louisiana mayors are part of a group lobbying lawmakers in Washington D.C. this week to support infrastructure spending -- and with a particular focus on projects and programs aimed at addressing extreme weather events.


Representatives from the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI)  went to Washington to meet with congressional members and White House staff. They want lawmakers to prioritize infrastructure, and to focus on helping cities prepare for and adapt to climate change.

MRCTI Executive Director Colin Wellenkamp says many cities along the Mississippi have seen more frequent floods and droughts in recent years.

“These are new impacts that we’ve not really had to deal with at this scale before, with so much repetitiveness and escalation,” he says.

The group of mayors want the federal government to create a new pot of money specifically for “resilience” projects to prepare for extreme weather, such as buyout programs that would move people out of vulnerable areas and the construction of parks that are designed to flood.

Wellenkamp says the federal government has several programs that address resilience issues, but thinks they’re too narrowly focused or come with too many strings attached.

The group includes several mayors from Louisiana: Paxton Branch (Tallulah), Elvadus Fields (St. Joseph), Buz Craft (Vidalia), Robert Myer (New Roads), William D'Aquilla (St. Francisville), Richard Lee (Port Allen), Sharon Weston Broome (Baton Rouge),  Edwin Reeves Jr. (Plaquemine), Lionel Johnson Jr. (St. Gabriel), Leroy Sullivan Sr. (Donaldsonville), Belinda Constant (Gretna), and LaToya Cantrell (New Orleans).

Lionel Johnson is the co-chair of the group, and was on this week's Washington D.C. trip.


Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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