Behind evacuation lines in St. Martin Parish

POSTED: Friday, May 27, 2011 - 3:57pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 27, 2011 - 6:09pm

In St. Martin Parish, residents were given until last Tuesday to pack up and move out of Happy Town, Sherburne and Butte LaRose. They haven’t been allowed back since. Today, NBC33 News takes you behind the evacuation lines to see where the water is.

Terry Guidry with the St. Martin Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Deputies guide media down the levee road Friday afternoon.

"It is constant and it is on the rise," says Guidry. He points out spots that were dry during his patrols Thursday. Today, some of those areas are completely submerged, including the only road to Happy Town. A strong current spills over the road and parts of the dirt road have already been washed away. Guidry says the repair will be quick, but can’t begin until the water goes away. Camps in Happy Town are faring better, for now.

Guidry says, "There’s no water inside those structures yet but it's just a matter of time at this point."

Down the levee road in Butte LaRose, the backwater flood is already creeping in. Canals and bayous are slowly equalizing with the Atchafalaya. The water topped a low spot in Herman Dupree Road just two days ago. In ten more days, the water will be five feet higher there.

"And it's flowing north, it wants to flow south. Anytime to see the water flowing against the current that's a big problem," says Guidry.

Over at Carter’s Cut, the water gauge reads 18 feet. It normally sits on dry ground. There are about 900 people who live along the canal. They are all evacuated and won’t be coming home anytime soon.

Guidry warns, "This didn't come overnight and it's not going to go away quickly."

Deputies say the area is not safe for residents. It’s not just the flood that worries officials; what is in the water is dangerous too.

"You are not going to have any way of getting your wastewater out of your residence,’ says Guidry. “It's not going to be pleasant to hold that for six to eight weeks possibly."

Sheriff’s Deputies say only 18 people decided to stick it out here. More than a thousand residents have evacuated.

"We can assure the people that we won't keep them out of their residence a day longer than need be or that it's safe for them,” says Guidry. “But right now it's just not safe and it’s too much to predict right now.”

The Atchafalaya River is forecast to crest in St. Martin Parish Saturday. It will hold that peak of over 23 feet for at least ten days, forcing more backwater to flood the area.

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