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Jefferson Parish (French: Paroisse de Jefferson) is a parish in Louisianamarker, United Statesmarker that includes most of the suburbs of New Orleansmarker. The seat of parish government is Gretnamarker.

According to the 2000 census, Jefferson had a population of 455,466. Metropolitan New Orleans, a seven-parish area which includes Jefferson, is the largest metropolitan area in the state. It is sometimes referred to as "Greater New Orleans". Jefferson Parish was less affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has rebounded at a more rapid pace than neighboring Orleans Parishmarker. A population estimate conducted in July 2007 by the Louisiana Recovery Authority put Jefferson at 440,339 residents, or 98% of its 2000 total, making it the most populous parish in the state.

History

Jefferson Parish was named in honor of U. S. President Thomas Jefferson of Virginia when the parish was established by the Louisiana Legislature on February 11, 1825, a year before Jefferson died. A bronze statue of Jefferson stands at the entrance of the General Government Complex on Derbigny Street at the parish seat in Gretnamarker.

From the 1940s to the 1970s, Jefferson's population swelled with an influx of middle-class white families from Orleans Parishmarker. The parish's population doubled in size from 1940 to 1950 and again from 1950 to 1960 as the parents behind the post-World War II baby boom, profiting from rising living standards and dissatisfied with their old neighborhoods, chose relocation to new neighborhoods of detached single-family housing. By the 1960s, rising racial tensions in New Orleans complicated the impetus behind the migration, as many new arrivals sought not only more living space but also residence in a political jurisdiction independent from New Orleansmarker proper.

The earliest postwar subdivisions were developed on the Eastbank of Jefferson Parish ("East Jefferson") along the pre-existing Jefferson Highway and Airline Highway routes, often relatively far-removed from the New Orleans city line, as land prices were lower further away from New Orleansmarker and land assembly was easier. The completion of Veterans Highway in the late 1950s, following a route parallel to Airline but further north, stimulated more development. The arrival of I-10 in the early 1960s resulted in the demolition of some homes in the Old Metairiemarker neighborhood, where development began in the 1920s, but resulted in even easier access to suburban East Jefferson.

In the portion of Jefferson Parish on the Westbank of the Mississippi River ("West Jefferson"), large-scale suburban development commenced with the completion, in 1958, of the Greater New Orleans Bridgemarker crossing the Mississippi River at downtown New Orleansmarker. Terrytownmarker, within the city limits of Gretnamarker, was the first large subdivision to be developed. Subsequent development has been extensive, taking place within Harveymarker, Marreromarker, Westwegomarker and Avondalemarker.

Similar to the development trajectory observed by other U.S. suburban areas, Jefferson began to enjoy a significant employment base by the 1970s and 1980s, shedding its earlier role as a simple bedroom community. In East Jefferson, the Causeway Boulevard corridor grew into a commercial office node, while the Elmwoodmarker neighborhood developed as a center for light manufacturing and distribution. By the mid-1990s, Jefferson Parish was exhibiting some of the symptoms presented by inner-ring suburbs throughout the United States. Median household income growth slowed, even trailing income growth rates in New Orleans propermarker, such that the inner city began to narrow the gap in median household income, a gap at its widest at the time of the 1980 Census. St. Tammany Parishmarker and, to a lesser extent, St. Charles Parishmarker began to attract migrants from the inner city, and increasingly even from Jefferson Parish itself. These trends were catalyzed by Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed much of New Orleans' low-income housing and propelled further numbers of lower-income individuals into Jefferson Parish.

Despite these challenges, Jefferson Parish still contains the largest number of middle class residents in metropolitan New Orleans and acts as the retail hub for the entire metro area.

Hurricane Katrina

Even though Jefferson Parish was affected by Hurricane Katrina, it has rebounded more quickly than Orleans Parishmarker, since the devastation was not as severe. The parish has a current population of 440,000, which is 15,000 fewer people than was recorded by the 2000 U.S. Census. New Orleans' Katrina-provoked population loss has resulted in Jefferson Parish becoming the most populous in the state of Louisiana, just ahead of East Baton Rouge Parishmarker, center of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area.

With the landfall of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005, Jefferson Parish took a hard hit. On the East Bank, widespread flooding occurred, especially in the eastern part of the parish, as well as much wind damage. Schools also were reported to have been severely damaged. On the West Bank, there was little to no flooding, though there was still much wind damage. As a result, the Jefferson Parish Council temporarily moved the parish government to Baton Rougemarker. Evacuees of Jefferson Parish were told that they could expect to be able to go back to their homes starting Monday, September 5, 2005 between the hours of 6 a.m. CDT and 6 p.m. CDT, but would have to return to their places of evacuation because life in the area was not sustainable. There were no open grocery stores or gas stations, and almost the entire parish had no electric, water, or sewerage services. Moreover, evacuations out of New Orleans were continuing to be staged from the heart of Metairie at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Causeway Boulevard, and traffic throughout the area was primarily restricted to emergency and utility vehicles.

Aaron Broussard, the parish president, issued the following statement, which was posted on the parish's website:
Jefferson Parish is not a safe place to return to at this time.
Therefore, I am exercising my authority under the Louisiana Disaster Act and issuing a 'lock out' order for all Jefferson Parish citizens until 6 a.m. on Monday, September 5th.


I have asked the Governor to utilize the State Police and National Guard for assistance in this mandatory lockout. This time will be needed to clear debris from streets so people can enter Jefferson Parish at their own risk.

We are at a catastrophic, disastrous impasse. There are a tremendous amount of trees down, gas leaks, low water pressure, and downed electrical lines which could start a fire that we have no way of putting out. There are no traffic controls. Many places are still flooded and this standing water will become toxic.

Jefferson Parish emergency managers will need this time to at least clear major East/West thoroughfares so that you can enter Jefferson Parish. However, I strongly suggest that you just come here to gather more belongings and leave, as it will still be a dangerous place. I cannot stress strongly enough that there will be no stores to purchase food or supplies so please do so prior to coming back to Jefferson Parish.

Try to stay with friends and relatives out of the hurricane affected area during the weeks to come. We cannot sustain any viable quality of life in Jefferson Parish at this time or for some time to come.

On September 3, as thousands of New Orleans residents were being evacuated into the parish, and as looting increased on both banks of the river, Parish President Aaron Broussard declared on local radio that Jefferson Parish was a "dictatorship" to be called "Jeffertania," and that he was the "dictator." He announced that Parish police officers would be authorized to stop looting by any means.

On September 4, Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard broke down on "Meet The Press"


RUSSERT: You just heard the director of homeland security’s explanation of what has happened this last week. What is your reaction?

BROUSSARD: We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now....

Three quick examples. We had Wal-Martmarker deliver three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA, we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. When we got there with our trucks, FEMA says don’t give you the fuel. Yesterday — yesterday — FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards and said no one is getting near these lines…

I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, "Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?" and he said, "Yeah, Mama, somebody's coming to get you." Somebody's coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody's coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody's coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody's coming to get us. Nobody's coming to get us… (Video: WMV MOV)

By the following weekend, the local electrical utility, Entergy, had restored power to large swaths of Jefferson Parish, and the parish public works department had restored water and sewer service to most of the areas with power. East Jefferson General Hospital never ceased operation, even through the storm. Nevertheless, Mr. Broussard continued to discourage residents from returning until all major streets were clear of downed trees, powerlines and major debris. The parish's initial focus was on helping businesses through the "Jumpstart Jefferson" program that allowed business operators into the parish before residents. Nevertheless, some independent-minded residents began moving back into the parish even before Broussard issued a formal "all-clear", and some gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and a Home Depot were in operation during this time.

Broussard's report of the events he discussed on Meet the Press have subsequently proven to be inaccurate. The son of the drowned woman was later identified as Thomas Rodrigue, who replied, "No, no, that's not true," when told of Broussard's account. An MSNBC interview with the man revealed that Rodrigue tried to contact his mother at the St. Rita nursing home on the days before the storm - Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28, not Monday through Friday as Broussard had claimed - to encourage the home to evacuate. They did not, resulting in the deaths by drowning of more than 30 other residents.

Crucially, Jefferson's levees and floodwalls did not fail in the wake of Katrina, enabling floodwaters to be rapidly pumped out. As of October 2006, Jefferson Parish had, in effect, completely rebounded from Hurricane Katrina, while far more damaged Orleans Parishmarker continued recovering at a slower rate. Estimates of Jefferson Parish's population ranged from 420,000 to 440,000, and this figure was expected to continue to rise as evacuated residents from Orleans Parish returned to metropolitan New Orleans. [14712]

Katrina-related flooding

Flooding on the east bank has been frequently attributed to the decision by parish leadership to deactivate the stormwater pumping systems and evacuate the operators during the storm. Katrina's substantial storm surge may have swamped even operating pumping stations but Broussard's activation of the parish's "Doomsday Plan" is the most frequently cited reason for the flooding in all areas of the east bank except Old Metairie and parts of Harahanmarker. Pump operators were evacuated to areas outside the parish that were themselves severely affected by the storm and pump station personnel were consequently unable to immediately return to restart the pumps. They did not arrive until the morning of August 31. Water resulting from the backflow through the non-operating pumping stations, as well as storm-related rainwater, remained on the streets and in the homes of residents of Metairie and Kenner for a day and a half. Many homes which were not severely damaged by storm winds took heavy flood damage, especially along both sides of the West Esplanade canal, from the 17th Street Canal to Kenner. The parish has subsequently announced that it will change the way it evacuates critical personnel during an emergency, both through the construction of "safe-houses" and use of existing facilities on the west bank of Jefferson Parish. The original "safe-house" project was severely modified due to rising costs and was further delayed due to a conflict of interest revealed by the original contractors. There are also plans to add manual closures on the pumping stations due to the failure of the compressed air systems during Katrina's storm surge.

Much additional consideration has been given to the different problem of the flooding in Old Metairie that resulted from Jefferson Parish's reliance on the failed Orleans Parish drainage system at the 17th Street Canal and its Pumping Station No. 6. Flooding in this area south of Metairie Road between the Orleans Parish line and Causeway Boulevard was catastrophic and deep water destroyed much of the most expensive real estate in the parish. A temporary plan was devised to pool water at the Pontiff Playground and south of Airline Drive and to divert some into other Jefferson Parish drainage canals. A longer-term project to divert water from this vulnerable area into the Mississippi River has also been suggested, although its expense appears to be prohibitive. Jefferson Parish officials have also struggled to maximize the parish's ability to utilize the significantly reduced pumping capacity of the 17th Street Canal if the threat of storm surge again requires the Corps of Engineers to close the mouth of the canal.

Gretna controversy

The city of Gretnamarker, Louisianamarker, the parish seat of Jefferson Parish, made news after its police force participated, along with Crescent City Connectionmarker Police and Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputies, in a road block on the Crescent City Connection Bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The purpose was to stop evacuees from crossing over into the evacuated communities on the Westbank of the Mississippi River. Gretna Police had charge of Westbank-bound lanes, while Jefferson Parish deputies controlled the east bank-bound lanes and the bridge police closed the transit lanes.

Initially, as many as 6,000 evacuees were permitted to cross and were shuttled out of the area on buses; however, that operation was eventually discontinued as available fuel supplies were exhausted. Without transportation or sufficient supplies of food or water, west bank law enforcement personnel determined that they were unable to further assist the evacuees. It was also believed at that time that federal relief efforts and supplies were soon to be concentrated in the downtown area of New Orleans. The decision to stop further evacuees from crossing the river was then made after Oakwood Center was looted and burned by evacuees from the east bank of New Orleans. A unified local police decision was made to lock down all areas. Due to the lack of effective communications during the crisis, some New Orleans police officers independently continued to direct evacuees to buses across the bridge that were no longer operational. The inevitable confrontation occurred on the section of the bridge controlled by the Gretna police, and warning shots were fired over the heads of desperate evacuees who had been misdirected onto the bridge. The warning shots were fired only after the threatening crowd of evacuees actually began a sudden advance upon the police after shouting the likes of "we can take them," according to live news reports from the scene.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the Oakwood Center had been looted and set on fire.

A business report released in April 2007 found Jefferson Parish lead the nation in job growth, for the quarter ending September 30, 2006,

as rebuilding continued after Hurricane Katrina.Jefferson Parish president Aaron Broussard believes that Jefferson Parish will reach pre-Katrina numbers or even exceed those numbers, as residents who are still evacuated from New Orleans return to Jefferson Parish to be closer to New Orleans as they wait for federal recovery money to repair their homes.

Geography

The parish has a total area of 642 square miles (1,664 km²), of which, 307 square miles (794 km²) of it is land and 336 square miles (870 km²) of it (52.29%) is water.

With the exception of the island Grand Islemarker, the only roads leaving Jefferson parish go to St. Charles Parishmarker on the west and both Orleans Parishmarker and Plaquemines Parishmarker on the east. Lake Pontchartrainmarker is situated to the north of Jefferson Parish. The southern half of Jefferson parish is uninhabited marshland. Regarding Grand Islemarker, the only roads connecting it to the rest of Jefferson Parish run through Lafourche Parishmarker and St. Charles Parishmarker

Major highways

East Bank





  • U.S. Highway 90 -- connects the East Bank to the West Bank on the south (via the Huey Long Bridge) and to New Orleansmarker on the east (via Jefferson Highway).




West Bank











Grand Isle



Adjacent parishes



National protected area



Demographics

As of the 2000 census , there were 455,466 people living in Jefferson Parish. There were 120,191 families residing in the parish. The population density was 1,486 people per square mile (574/km²). There were 187,907 housing units at an average density of 613 per square mile (237/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 69.82% White, 22.86% Black or African American, 0.45% Native American, 3.09% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.03% from other races, and 1.72% from two or more races. 7.12% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 176,234 households out of which 31.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.20% were married couples living together, 15.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 26.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the parish the population was spread out with 25.30% under the age of 18, 9.10% from 18 to 24, 30.20% from 25 to 44, 23.40% from 45 to 64, and 11.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.60 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $38,435, and the median income for a family was $45,834. Males had a median income of $35,081 versus $24,921 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $19,953. About 10.80% of families and 13.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.00% of those under age 18 and 9.80% of those age 65 or over.

2008 and 2004 election results

Jefferson Parish was one of the many parishes to cast the majority of its votes for Republican John McCain. He won 63% of the vote and 113,191 votes. Democrat Barack Obama won 36% of the votes and 65,096 votes. Although John McCain easily won Jefferson Parish, in the U.S Senate race that same year between Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican John Kennedy Landrieu won Jefferson Parish. She won 52% of the vote and 91,966 votes. John Kennedy won 46% of the vote and 79,965 votes. Other candidates won 2% of the vote. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush did not do as well as John McCain. Bush won 62% of the vote and 117,882 votes. Democrat John F. Kerry won 38% of the votes and 72,136 votes.

Communities

Map of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana With Municipal Labels
The communities are arranged by region and ranked by population as of the 2000 Census.

East Bank

Total Population: 257,239

West Bank

Total Population: 181,464

Bayou Barataria

Total Population: 5,046

Gulf of Mexico



Education

The parish's public schools are operated by Jefferson Parish Public Schools.

There are also numerous private schools in Jefferson Parish. The majority of school-age children living in East Jefferson attend private schools, the highest proportion of any region in the nation. This phenomenon does not apply to West Jefferson, where the majority of school-age children attend public schools.

See also



Footnotes

External links




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