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Texas Brine begins cutting checks, state says it's not enough

3 years ago August 17, 2012 Aug 17, 2012 Friday, August 17 2012 Friday, August 17, 2012 3:48:46 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Adrian Pittman

PIERRE PART- Today contractors for Texas Brine handed out checks to families evacuated from Bayou Corne after a massive sinkhole appeared on the company's property.  However, state officials said the company's not doing enough.

Candy Blanchard and her family were among those who fled the area after the evacuation was ordered.

"It's really, really inconvenient. And now we feel like we have to look into another living arrangement long-term," said Blanchard.

More than 110 families are eligible for a weekly assistance check worth $875 given by Texas Brine. Blanchard admits the $875 is helpful, but it can't erase what's been done.

"It's not going to make it better. It will not, because our life will have to change because of this," she said.

This evening the state Department of Natural Resources ordered Texas Brine to also pay families for the entire portion of the evacuation period, including the weeks prior to this one.  They said that was spelled out in the company's original permit to operate the cavern.

"Unfortunately, Texas Brine doesn't seem to understand that our citizens' problems started long before their disaster contractor showed up today," said Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin Triche. "To not pay the affected residents retroactively would be a slap in the face."

Alicia Heilig lives down the road on Bayou Corne but won't get an assistance check, because she lives just four mailboxes away from the evacuation zone's boundry.

"I actually left for a few days when all this first happened, and I had to come back because I ran out of money," Heilig said.

Texas Brine is assembling a 140-foot tall drilling rig to expore a salt cavern in the area that could be connected to the sinkhole, and said they expect the drill to be operational this evening. That leaves Heilig and others concerned what could happen, but she says she'll have to take her chances.

"What can I do? There's nothing that I can do. I have no money to leave, basically stuck where I am. I can't go anywhere," she said.

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