Strain looks at flood-damaged N. La. farmland
LAKE PROVIDENCE, La.- Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain visited the Bunches Bend area of East Carroll Parish to see the 10,000 acres of prime farm land that flooded when a century old levee failed during the recent battles against a high-running Mississippi River.
Bunches Bend had been protected on three sides by the farm levee, which had been the original mainline levee. The fourth side is protected by the new mainline levee built in 1932
"Now the question is, `What can we do to help?"' said Strain, who was joined by state lawmakers Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, Reps. Bubba Chaney, R-Rayville, and Sam Little, R-Bastrop, and the producers who farm the land.
Most of the water has drained, but it will cost millions to repair the levee. Strain said help will likely have to come from federal sources.
Fifth Louisiana Levee District Reynold Minsky said a Federal Emergency Management Agency official told him Friday morning that FEMA may provide significant funding since the levee breaches also destroyed a public parish road.
"The (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) is sending a crew later this month to make an accurate analysis and determine the cost," Minsky told The News-Star.
Producer Ed Patrick said there wasn't as much scouring of the land or sand deposited as the farmers had feared.
"I'd say anywhere from 300 to 500 acres are badly damaged," Patrick said.
Some of the producers were planting a late crop of grain sorghum on the land this week.
"It's too late, but I'm trying," Ted Schneider said. "Hopefully I'll make some kind of crop."
Even if the levee isn't repaired, the farmers said they will continue to plant in the spring.
"Yeah, we'll roll the dice," Patrick said.