Iberville Parish declares a state of emergency, aquadams ready
PLAQUEMINE - Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso declared a state of emergency Wednesday with the threat of heavy rains and bad weather as a result of a tropical system brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.
The state of emergency allows decisions to be made immediately and opens the door for federal assistance if needed.
In St. Gabriel, residents spent the day picking up sandbags in an attempt to fight possible flooding that may result from the tropical system. Kirstynn Bettencourtt said her home flooded last month after a heavy rain.
"I think everyone is just nervous that it's going to happen again, and the people who have rebuilt don't want to do that all again," Bettencourtt said.
Ourso said he got in touch with the contractors to unroll miles of aquadams if they are needed. A decision will be made later to inflate them depending on how high Bayou Manchac is projected to rise. The dams were purchased after the 2016 flood and will protect parts of St. Gabriel, Praireville and Geismar. The dams have become controversial for people in East Baton Rouge Parish who are concerned it could cause them to flood.
"My hands on the trigger," Ourso said. "No fun when the rabbit's got the gun. I don't want no war with East Baton Rouge, but they know I gotta protect my people. I'm in the middle of an election. What do they expect me to do, fall down?"
Ourso said he hopes the dams won't be needed, but said they'll be inflated before Manchac rises to a level that it would threaten homes in Iberville Parish.
Residents echo his sentiments.
"I don't want anyone else's house to flood, but if it will protect my house and my neighbor's houses it will be a good thing," Bettencourtt said.
Ourso said he's getting regular updates from the National Weather Service. During a conference call Wednesday, he was told there's a possibility that parts of his parish could get up to 18 inches of rain.