Residents near giant Louisiana sinkhole not happy with buyout offers

Giant Louisiana sinkhole in Bayou Corne before and after (Source: Derrick Hopwood)
Giant Louisiana sinkhole in Bayou Corne before and after (Source: Derrick Hopwood)
Aerial image of giant Louisiana sinkhole April 23, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP)
Aerial image of giant Louisiana sinkhole April 23, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP)

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Nine months after the sinkhole first appeared in Bayou Corne, Texas Brine has started making offers to buy out the residents living there. Some residents say the offers are not what they expected.

For residents of Bayou Corne, serene waterways are their backyards. People like Dennis Landry never imagined their piece of paradise would be interrupted by a bubbling in the bayou, followed by a now more than 15-acre sinkhole.

"Back then, we all thought surely that the bubbling was coming from a leak in a pipeline. Oh, we wish it would have been something so simple that could've been fixed," said Landry.

While scientists try to figure out the cause and the fix for the problem, residents have been under a mandatory evacuation, many urging Texas Brine to buy out their homes and property.

Just last week, Texas Brine started making buyout offers to the residents of Bayou Corne. While Dennis Landry did not get his offer yet, some of his neighbors have and they tell him the amount on the table is not what they expected.

"All this time has passed. You would think those appraisals... if the appraisal itself is going to be off, make it off. Err on the side of caution. Make it high," said Landry.

Texas Brine spokesperson Sonny Cranch says the company based appraisals on property values on the first quarter of 2012, before the bubbling and the sinkhole appeared.

"Again, we feel they are what we feel are fair and reasonable offers, but as I said before, we will entertain a counteroffer. And if it's reasonable, we will hopefully move forward," said Cranch.

Cranch says if Texas Brine and the homeowner cannot agree on a counteroffer, the company will pay for a third party mediator to help the two sides come to an agreement.

Landry hopes he won't have to sell at all.

"As long as we can find out that it's going to be safe for us to continue living here, and after we never have left, if it's safe, the last thing I want to do is leave Bayou Corne," said Landry.

Sonny Cranch says so far the company has made offers to 23 homeowners.

It's been almost a year since a massive sinkhole near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou began causing problems. Bubbling in the bayou led to the now 15-acre sinkhole. About 350 people have been forced out of their homes since August.

A New Orleans attorney is handling the class-action suit. There has not been a response from Texas Brine about the lawsuit.

The sinkhole grew by three acres last month, bringing its total size to about 15 acres.

It has been nine months since hundreds living near the giant sinkhole were forced from their homes.

Bubbles were spotted in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou in June 2012. Two months later, the ground opened up and left a nine-acre sinkhole. Residents were evacuated and have been for the past seven months. Most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week.

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