Chalmette environmental activist Charles Savoye dies

Chalmette environmental activist Charles Savoye dies

Sat, 04 Jan 2014

Charles “Pete” Savoye, a self-taught environmental activist from Chalmette who campaigned for decades against the unrecognized flood hazard that was the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, only to be vindicated in the flood that wiped him out, died Sunday at his home in Covington.

He was 83.

“He didn’t take any satisfaction in being right, because being right meant that people lost everything, including him,” said Chris Holmes, an ally and chairman of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

Savoye, a carpenter who worked 29 years for Kaiser Aluminum, was an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish. His experience and observations in the marshes of St. Bernard Parish in the 1960s convinced him an environmental disaster was gathering itself there.

Holmes said Savoye was of a generation that knew the marshland landscape before arrival of the man-made waterway and could see its accelerating destruction.

“He kept saying, ‘We’ve got to do something about this monster in our backyard, because it’s going to get us if we don’t do something,’ ” Holmes said.

For almost 20 years, Savoye used the presidency of a local club, the St. Bernard Sportsmen’s League, as a platform to campaign against the so-called “Mr. GO.” He wrote letters, attended meetings and badgered port officials and elected officials about the danger of the waterway. With Holmes and others, Savoye built a model he used to demonstrate the channel’s hazards in countless public presentations. It is now part of the Katrina exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum.

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