ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - An estimated 1,000 homes and businesses in Ascension Parish are in line for new flood protection. The permits have been approved to build a levee along the Amite River Basin. It's a plan that's been in the making for about a decade.
John Cicet is one of hundreds of residents on the southwest side of Ascension Parish who flooded in August of 2016 when water from the Amite River Basin overtopped what's known as the Laurel Ridge Levee. He remembers it like it was yesterday.
"I had water coming through here real fast. We sandbagged and pumped until the sandbags collapsed," said Cicet.
He and his family went through great effort to try to save their 40-year-old home. "It was tough, but we had to get out. We didn't have much choice," said Cicet.
The Cicets returned to find 14 inches of water had entered their St. Amant home. Cicet says because he did not have flood insurance, rebuilding meant dipping into his savings. "I think I spent about $120,000," he said.
"They had so many devastated houses, it was unbelievable," said Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa.
Matassa explains right now, property owners in the Lake Martin and St. Amant area do not have any flood protection. Officials have been fighting to get a levee built along the southwest side of the Amite River Basin. Ten years later, they say the Army Corps of Engineers has finally approved the permits.
Assistant director of the Department of Public Works, Ron Savoy, says the four and a half mile, three foot levee would protect structures from Gold Place Road to Wall Cemetery Road. It will include seven flood control gates. "It will allow us to know when things are forecasted that will affect this area, we will be able to close off this and use it as a levee and divert that water to stay at the back side of the levee," said Savoy.
"This will protect thousands of structures that are not protected right now by any kind of flood control. This is a structure that will keep the water out," said Matassa.
While there is no guarantee history won't repeat itself, project engineers say it will lessen the impact of flooding. "It gives you a little peace of mind," said Cicet.
Leaders say that's worth the battle to build it.