Looking back: Bayou Corne then and now
POSTED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 11:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 11:04pm
BAYOU CORNE,LA (NBC33) — Bayou Corne resident Dennis Landry first spotted bubbles in Bayou Corne on May 30, 2012.
"At first I just passed it then I turned around and said no this doesn't look right," Landry said. "...Turned around and went back. I noticed by one of the big pipelines there was some pretty heavy consistent bubbling I had never seen before."
Turns out it wasn't an issue with a pipeline. Landry's neighbors wanted to see the bubbles for themselves.
"It was just a lot. It was just all over the place," Nick Romero, Bayou Corne resident, said.
Residents say it was the first sign trouble was brewing on the bayou.
"It really put a concern in my mind that there was really something, something bad going on," Romero said.
Something that would change their lives forever.
August 3,2012 news of a sinkhole forming sent a wave of fear through the community.
"What do we know about a sinkhole. We knew nothing. We didn't know what had caused it," Alleman said.
"I saw the sinkhole myself you know. It was a sight I will never forget," Landry described. "I thought I saw a little glimpse of hell, because you had the area the size of about two football fields mud the swamp was basically upside down. Cypress trees floating around and some sinking. A sight you never saw."
Assumption parish officials issued a mandatory evacuation. Carla Alleman and her family left immediatly.
"When we left I remember very clearly on August 3, we packed an over night bag," Alleman described. "We just went to stay at my brother's house because we thought we would be back in a month. "
Nick Romero stayed in Bayou Corne.
a"At first there was the hope that this was a short term thing," Romero said.
The situation wasn't. Almost two years have passed, and the sinkhole has grown. Right now, it's around 29 acres in size.
"The mandatory evacuation is still under affect. It is still unsafe to be right were we are right now," Alleman said.
Things look a lot different at the Alleman's now weeds cover what used to be their home.
"It is not home anymore. It is not home anymore. How can you be home and feel unsafe. Home is supposed to mean security and safety and it doesn't mean that any more to us," Alleman explained.
Alleman said the gas under her community, and the uncertainty of living near a sinkhole was enough to make her family feel unsafe.
"You can not continue living in Limbo wondering where you are going to go. So, probably about six months ago, we just made the decision we are going to have to take a settlement and move on," Alleman described.
Her family is currently living in a home in Pierre Part, and have no plans on ever living in their home in Bayou Corne again. They are currently part of a class action lawsuit against Texas Brine.
The Romero's have stayed at their home in Bayou Corne for now.
"I made a decision to stay, and so my fear is that if I don't get all of the information I can get about what's going on here that I could make a wrong decision. I could stay too long. Then I would put her in jeopardy," Romero said.
The Romero's are also part of the class action lawsuit and have plans to leave the quiet community eventually. Romero said the decision was simple.
"When my wife told me that she would stay with me until we got a settlement, but once we got a settlement we had to leave," Romero said. "We had to go find another place. "
Some people in Bayou Corne have already moved on. Last summer Texas Brine made buyout offers to the many in the community. 66 offers were accepted.
Now the empty homes are a sad reminder of the pain caused by the sinkhole.
"Very depressing and discouraging, because this was once a beautiful area," Alleman said.
Many property owners in Bayou Corne are still fighting with Texas Brine.
"We are still out of our homes. Our lives are still in turmoil," Alleman said. "...No one is giving us any attention. They hope we just go away."
In April, a preliminary settlement was ok'd by a judge for $48 million. About 90 properties are included in the settlement, including the Alleman's and Romero's.
"I just didn't think that there was enough money there," Romero said.
"No one will be rich after this no one will be millionaires no one hit the lottery. We will come out with enough money to replace hopefully replace our homes," Alleman stated. "We can never replace the area."
The fight is far from over.
"It's not just snap your fingers. We're still looking at another six months before we even get a penny, and then we have to find property and start building," Alleman said.
Meanwhile on the bayou, Landry and his wife are working with their own lawyer to settle directly with Texas Brine. They are not part of the class action. They want to stay.
"Leave here? Leave and go where? It would almost be impossible to find a setting like this almost anywhere," Landry said.
He will stay despite the sinkhole, and the bubbles.
"I am willing to take my chances and see if this thing doesn't pass. I do really believe that this too shall pass," Landry said.
While Bayou Corne families wait to be able to move on. Many have grown tired. Tired of missing out on priceless memories.
"Now we are coming upon two years that our life plan, Grady and I's life plan, has been altered. Because, our grandchildren have grown two years and we are not living next door to them. That was our plan so that's been the hardest part," Alleman said.
The Romero's received more devastating news. Nick's wife Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer, again.
"I blame texas brine and I will always blame them," Romero said. "...I blame them for putting us in this position. I blame them for her having to go through this while we are still here. "
He hopes one day he and his wife can go back to a life of peace... a life without thoughts of a sinkhole or bubbles on the bayou.
"You know I don't want to worry about that anymore," He said. "That's it. I just want to live a comfortable life again."