POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - On a mobile device? Click the link for additional features - http://bit.ly/2ckznGo
The process of drawing down the water in False River has begun. The Point Coupee Parish leaders believe lowering it by six feet will help improve vegetation and revitalize the river.
The step was delayed by two weeks following the historic August flood.
Property owners who were against the idea when the measure was approved earlier this year said they are now living in fear while they struggle to rebuild.
The views from most any spot along False River are undeniably breathtaking. It is why Angel Bain said she decided to go in on a $1 million investment to create Sun Perch Villa, a series of unique rental cabins on the banks of the river. It opened for business on July 4. A newly renovated cabin flooded the very next month.
"The rain water caused the river to rise that much, that fast," Bain said.
Debris piles there and at the curb of her neighbors' houses are nasty reminders of the rain event that turned so many lives upside down. However, the people who live there believe Point Coupee Parish leaders could have done something to spare them, draw down the river, which is what they had already planned to do in September.
Rick Falgout's house flooded in August for the first time in 40 years.
"They didn't heed the warnings of the national and local weather bureaus. Period," Falgout said.
"If things would have been done correctly this lake would have been drawn down before that and a lot of people who flooded wouldn't have flooded,"
The parish, instead, delayed the process by two weeks. At 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the gates were opened to begin drawing down the river. Now, as residents rebuild, they are once again losing sleep over what might happen next.
"I fear from an engineering point of view, not just the structures of our properties along the banks of False River, but the structures that are concrete structures or steel structures, like Light House Canal. How do we know that those structures are not going to have an effect of this water draw down," Falgout said.
Kyle Oline, vice president of the parish's police jury, said the river is being drawn down an inch and a half per day as approved by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. He said leaders are proceeding with caution, but that has done little to calm residents who are watching the water d rop just steps from their back doors.
"Now you're telling me you can raise the gates and you're going to be able to draw this river down six feet. You couldn't draw it down two feet to save us from the flood," Bain said.
"It's too late now. The damage is done," Falgout said.
Oline said the parish opened the flood gates four days before the torrential rains hit, but it was just too much for the river and bayous to handle.