Workers stop breach in Sorrel, Pigeon area

Staff Report

Nearly 100 parish workers and volunteers worked nearly six hours Friday to repair the breach of an AquaDam that forced the mandatory evacuation of more than 1,000 residents in the Bayou Sorrel/Bayou Pigeon area.

The combination of sandbags and cement barriers capped off a potential deluge of floodwater along La. 75 between Bayou Sorrel and Bayou Pigeon.

The breach on the AquaDam, which occurred about 10 a.m. along La. 75, left crews in a scramble to install concrete barriers and place sandbags along the breach, which extended nearly 500 feet.

“It got us on both sides of the parish this time – usually if it’s bad on one area, it’s not as bad on the other end,” Iberville Parish President Mitchell Ourso said. “If it wouldn’t have been for the workers and volunteers, both from inside and outside the area, this could’ve been a whole lot worse.”

In a scenario that played out like a movie coming to life, workers managed to stop the breach and prevent a larger deluge of water to the already flood-prone area.

“Personally, I didn’t think it could be fixed, but everybody came together from Bayou Pigeon and Bayou Sorrel and put it back together again,” said Parish Councilman Pete Kelley, who represents the area. “Five or six people said it could be stopped, and we all did it.

“It took a combination of workers and volunteers, along with help from the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “It was the first time we ever had anything like this. I’ve been on the Parish Council for 21 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

The Aqua Dam was 36 inches in diameter, but 32 inches of water was behind it.

“When you put water to water, it tends to float,” Kelley said.

The mandatory evacuation from the Iberville Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness affected all Bayou Sorrel residents south of J.R. Drive, and all Bayou Pigeon residents. They were advised to evacuate to the Carl F. Grant Civic Center Red Cross Shelter, while the C.M. “Mike” Zito Multipurpose Center served as an evacuation shelter for large animals.

By 4 p.m., the workers capped the deluge and stopped three feet of water from coming across La. 75.

The flooding impacted about 500 homes in the area, which has traditionally been prone to flooding.

Extensive work on the waterway is long overdue, Kelley said.

“The Intracoastal Waterway needs some attention.,” he said. “We haven’t done any work on it in a long time. We need a levee system on the intracoastal, or we need to raise the roads.”

It’s an issue that not only impacts residents, but a large chunk of the national economy.

“At seven feet, tugboats can’t run down this canal, and the boats have been shut down 27 of the last 30 days,” Kelley said. “It’s very hard for this industry to operated when they can’t use the Intracoastal Waterway.

“The Mississippi River doesn’t pass in Houston, and you’ve got to go through the Intracoastal to get to Houston,” he said. “What’s going to have to happen is that the tugboat industry is going to have to be involved to get this fixed. That’s the only way it will happen.”