BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One of the first steps in finding out when it will be safe for people living near the massive sinkhole in southeast Louisiana to return home was taken Friday morning.
"These residents have been doing this for nine months. We're coming on nine months, and the big significant part is, with no particular end in sight, said Assumption Parish Police Jury president Marty Triche.
But Triche says the blue ribbon commission starting their research on the sinkhole is a step in the right direction.
"We think we have the right people on board now to give us the answers and give us the recommendations that we need from a parish level to protect the safety of our citizens," said Triche.
Gov.. Bobby Jindal called for this team to be created after he visited the sinkhole last month. The 13 experts, that come from all over the world, will review the stability of the salt dome, the activity under the sinkhole--- as well as natural gas problems. So far, their research shows that part of the salt dome is still collapsing.
"We're caught between that sense of urgency to get these folks back home, but these answers and the science have to be right," said Patrick Courreges with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. "We can't be wrong. We can't say, 'close enough.' It's got to be...these are the marks that say safety, unquestionably."
Bayou Corne resident and committee member J.C. Chamberlain believes it could take years for the team to figure out just when things will be safe again----years he says some people in his community may not have.
"I've got, for instance, a neighbor that's 80 plus years old. And they're having to start their lives all over again. They just didn't want to stay in an environment that wasn't safe," said Chamberlain.
The team will get together in Bayou Corne, later this month or early may, to see the sinkhole up-close and analyze data together before they come up with recommendations to ensure the long term safety for the people in the community.
For information about the commission's research and/or meeting times, email Blueribbon@la.gov.
There will be several conferences among the group before its three-day workshop in which the entire committee will meet to take a closer look at the sinkhole.