Commission blames Army Corps of Engineers for diversion canal delay
BATON ROUGE – In a letter released Sunday, the Amite River Basin blames US Army Corps of Engineers for not completing the Comite River Diversion Canal on time.
“We have feared that sooner or later another historic flooding event will strike again with the Amite River and Comite River basins,” the release said. “It happened sooner.”
In the statement, the Amite River Basin Commission said that if the diversion canal had been completed, floodwaters would have been diverted safely into the Mississippi River and away from homes and businesses.
The Commission says that the US Army Corps of Engineers is charged with building the project, but no construction has happened within the last 10 years.
Jim Jobes lives near the proposed project. He recently finished renovating his home, including new appliances. He says his home has flooded 11 times, including during this week’s historic flooding as well as in March.
"The house is a total loss," Jobes said.
Jobes' entire neighborhood saw devastating flooding, with water rising halfway up the roof on many homes.
Jobes says he's been holding on to hope for over a decade, waiting for the completion of the Comite River Diversion Canal.
"Oh, I was elated," he said, referring to when the project was first announced. "Here we go, baby this is going to solve our problem."
Jobes says since the 1980's he, and nearly 100,000 others, have paid a tax to build the canal, which could prevent such severe flooding. But the canal has not been built.
The Amite River Basin Commission also said that the organization and the DOTD have already fulfilled their pre-construction obligations. The commission says they are waiting for federal funds to start construction of bridges and a section of the channel in the western part of the project.
“We have done our job and waiting,” the letter says. “We hope that the federal government will finally get serious about this project.”