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Iberville to EBR: 'Leave the bull alone, and you won't get the horn'

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PLAQUEMINE- Hurricane season is less than two months away, and a squabble continues over plans to keep both parishes safe during a flood.

Following the August of 2016 flood, Iberville Parish purchased aqua dams that would be deployed over Manchac Road. The hope is to prevent flooding from Bayou Manchac from flooding the Spanish Lake Basin which ultimately affects homes in St. Gabriel, Geismar and Prairieville.

This year, the East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney's Office sent in a public records request to Iberville Parish requesting all documents tied to the aqua dams and any permits that were obtained to deploy them.

"They want to know where my permit is," Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso said as he held up his hand. "Every four years when I get sworn in to protect my people...that's my permit. I want you to tell them over there."

Ourso likened the public records request to a game that is being played.

"I'm not playing no games with them," he said. "Leave the bull alone and you won't get the horn."

After the flood of August 2016, residents in St. Gabriel dealt with problems for a long time trying to rebuild. Phil Breaux knows all about it.

"Once the water came in, it couldn't get out," Breaux said. "The water stayed in some people's homes three to four weeks."

Tonight, residents in both parishes are concerned. Like East Baton Rouge Parish Officials, residents near Bayou Manchac believe if the dams are deployed in another high water event, homes that came close to flooding before might actually flood.

Parish Attorney Lea Ann Batson declined to do an interview but said over the phone all options are on the table.

Fred Raiford with EBR's Transportation and Drainage also declined to do an interview. However, he said a meeting is scheduled this week to go over the issue and what the next steps are.

"I'm sure, if we have a named storm and I declare a state of emergency, I'm sure they have something in their bag of tricks that they are going to assign something to somebody to prevent me from protecting our people," Ourso said. "But, that's my permit. I swore to uphold and protect the life and property of my people. That's my permit."

Ourso said with all of this controversy, he's still waiting for East Baton Rouge Parish to reimburse Iberville more than $2,500 for the documents they requested and received. But, he's not holding his breath.

"It will look like they need the money more than I need it," Ourso said. "Let them keep it. I'm not worried about 2,500. They got a lot more problems in East Baton Rouge Parish than to worry about these aqua dams in Iberville."

The aqua dams cost a quarter of a million dollars to deploy during an emergency.

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