Sinkhole forces St. Amant condo owners from their homes

ST. AMANT, LA (WAFB) - Some condo owners in St. Amant are worried their properties are getting sucked into the Diversion Canal.

A sinkhole opened up between The River Highlands Condominiums and the Diversion Canal on Wednesday evening, just steps from some homeowners' back doors. Larry Gussman could hardly believe his eyes when he stepped out of his condo.

"I'd like to have had a heart attack. I could not believe it," Gussman said.

His piece of paradise is filled with craters. Residents said late Wednesday evening, the ground began crumbling beneath them, the sidewalk along the bulkhead buckled, and the boat slips suddenly collapsed.

"The only thing holding the boat slip up are the tops of those boats," Gussman said.

He owns one of the boats, and resident Barbara Jenkins owns another boat that appears to be supporting the other end of the awning.

"You hear it. It's pumping the water out," Jenkins said.

The vessel has already cracked under pressure. Jenkins is worried it will eventually sink. She and her neighbors said they have seen enough. They are not sticking around to watch. A lot of them have gathered their valuables and moved out.

"I was scared my home was going to cave in. So I packed my bags to get out," Jenkins said.

Residents said they complained to the homeowner's association when they noticed the sidewalk started shifting a couple of years ago, but they said permanent repairs were never made.

"They said they were going to contact someone to get it done well over two and a half years ago, and they still haven't gotten anything done," Jenkins said.

The company that manages the property, Lewis Companies, roped off the compromised land and posted a letter on residents' doors warning them of what they referred to as "a dangerous situation." They also noted that they are working on "plans to stabilize the area, evacuate the boats and covers, and get repairs made."

"I wish they'd do something so I can come back here and live, because I actually like living here," Jenkins said.

Until then, homeowners said they are moving to solid ground.

"If this caved in again, all at one time, I'm afraid this building is going to topple. I don't want to be in it when that happens," Gussman said.

Property managers were not available for comment on Thursday, but said they are looking into the problem.

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