Town hall scheduled to discuss breached levee in Port Arthur

A failed levee near Taylor Bayou could compromise a portion of Jefferson County south of Beaumont - mainly Port Arthur and its surrounding refineries - if a tropical storm or hurricane hit the area, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (KFDM/KBTV photo)

NOTE: This story has been updated.

A contractor has been hired to repair the breached levee in Port Arthur.

The damaged section is about 250 feet by the Valero docks off Highway 87 at Taylor Bayou.

There will be town hall held at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Drainage District No. 7 and the Corps of Engineers will be fielding questions from the public about the breach and informing their plans going forward

Drainage District 7 is in charge of the repair with guidance from the U.S. Corps of Engineers.

Both agencies say there's no need to panic.

The levee could be fortified with sand if a storm headed this way. The U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard would likely put the sand in place.

Phil Kelley, who manages the drainage district, said Wednesday at a news conference the fix could cost millions of dollars. If the drainage district does not have enough money to cover the cost, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick would issue a disaster declaration seeking state and federal funding.

Branick said at the news conference a drafted declaration is already on his desk. It would go to the Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, who would then send it to Gov. Greg Abbott, then to the federal government to see if there is additional funding.

The breach was discovered last week by someone fishing in the area.

Kelley said the the levee system is checked frequently and that it'd been about a month since it was last looked at.

He suspects the levee was breached two weeks ago.

PREVIOUS: Commissioners for the Drainage District 7 in Port Arthur declared an emergency Monday to speed up the process of repairing a breached levee near Taylor Bayou and the Valero refinery.

Phil Kelley, who manages the drainage district, says contractor Mason Construction was hired Wednesday after an attorney for the drainage district reviewed the contract.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can offer the drainage district different scenarios on fixing the breach, but the district is ultimately responsible for maintenance and operation.

Kelley says the county could pitch in if the district does not have enough money to cover the repairs.

The state and federal governments could also assist in funding,.

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