Crack in Bayou Corne sinkhole berm concerns residents

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - The small community of Bayou Corne has fallen quiet.  Gone are the days where folks gathered and fished from the Bayous.  Longtime resident Mike Schaff says he hardly recognizes his own home.

"Right now it's a ghost town, an empty shell of what it once was," said Schaff.

Most of Schaff's neighbors have moved.  He says his search for a new home has been somewhat depressing.

"You can find properties on the Diversion Canal or out on Lake Verret, but none of that is same atmosphere," he continued.

Those who were fighting to stay say they are losing hope.  On Saturday, Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director John Boudreaux says he found a crack across the berm on the south end of the sinkhole.  He also noticed an increase in tremors at the site.

"In the weeks before, 10 to 15 a day.  Saturday it was 326," said Boudreaux.

Boudreaux and people who live here are worried the activity might be a sign.

"What concerns me is that this sinkhole is a monster that's not going to show its teeth until many years from now," said Schaff

United Brine President Mark Cartwright claims Texas Brine has things under control.

Is this containment in jeopardy? No, we don't believe it is," said Cartwright.  "When this is finished consuming material, this will broaden out and become shallower - somewhere near 100 feet deep.  We don't expect areas this far out to be 200 feet deep."

Taxpayers say an outstanding bill Texas Brine has yet to pay to the parish has also gotten under their skin.

According to the police jury, Texas Brine has paid the parish close to $290,000 and still owes over $140,000.  That doesn't include money Texas Brine owes the sheriff's office and the state.  Texas Brine says they've paid the police jury over $680,000 and the sheriff over $744,000.

"I'm tired of hearing the potty mouth that Texas Brine is saying about how many millions of dollars they spent," said Schaff. "Well, that's too damn bad."

Schaff says as far as he's concerned, Bayou Corne as he knew it will never be the same.

"I moved down here for the outdoors and for the fishing and hunting, but I stayed here because of the community," he said.

The company is working on a contingency plan to repair the berm.  Cartwright says it might include building another one south of the site.

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