False River homeowner blames elected leaders for 2016 flooding, builds concrete wall

False River homeowner blames elected leaders for 2016 flooding, builds concrete wall

FALSE RIVER, LA (WAFB) - A homeowner in False River, who says he flooded last summer for the first time in 42 years, blames the Pointe Coupee Police Jury for the damage to his property.

Now, he has taken matters into his own hands to prevent it from happening again. Rick Falgout is just getting back to enjoying his piece of paradise along the river.

The August 2016 flood pushed two feet of water into his house. To make matters worse, he says a man-made drawdown of False River busted his seawall.  He says he had to take out a $70,000 SBA loan to fix it and bring in a couple of re-enforcements.

One of them came in the form of a 3-foot concrete wall he had built around his property.

"It just slides into sections. There's a seal that goes underneath it all the way through, and it goes into sections and locks the water out," said Falgout.

Falgout believes his property is safe now, but he holds the Pointe Coupee Police Jury responsible for the hit it took last year. The former engineer says leaders refused to open the flood gates before the rain moved in despite repeated warnings from him and his neighbors.

"Days later, they were going to draw down the river six foot, but they refused to draw down the river two feet [before then], which would have saved many people on this river from flooding. I can't trust their protection, so I have to protect myself," said Falgout.

Pointe Coupee Police Juror Kyle Olinde is the man responsible for deciding when to open and close the flood gates. "Every morning when the gates are open or in a rain event, when I see the lake rising, we open up. It's behind the scenes," said Olinde.

He insists the gates at False River were open days before the heavy rains arrived last August. "We had them open. There's no misconception. I have a record with the police jury office of when we open and close," said Olinde.

The 9News Investigators asked for those records. Pointe Coupee Parish showed us the calendar for last August, which reveals the False River lake levels for that month. According to those records, the gates were closed on August 1. The water level was just under 16 feet. On August 9, just days before the predicted heavy rainfall, it shows the gates were opened. The water level rose on August 15 to just under 22 feet. The gates remained open the rest of the month.

Olinde says the rain was more than the river could handle. "It's a low-lying area. They will suffer. They never flooded before because they didn't have 16.5 feet of rain in that period of time," said Olinde.

Falgout insists it was poor planning. He says if he believed otherwise, he would not have resorted to building a concrete wall around his property. "I'm not leaving here and I am protecting myself because I can't trust them," said Falgout.

Another drawdown of False River began on Tuesday. The gates are expected to remain open until January 15, 2018.

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