Bill to address Central flooding moves forward
BATON ROUGE - Central residents prone to flooding are hopeful things will get better in the near future. A bill that would allow the Comite River to be dredged has made it to the senate floor.
Every time it rains, the river backs up into people's backyards, but correcting this has a catch. The Comite River is part of the Louisiana Scenic Rivers Act, which preserves the river's ecosystem, prohibiting any clearing or snagging. So in order to dredge the water, Comite River would have to be suspended from the Rivers Act for three years.
"You might hear some people say we may lose a fish or lose a bird, I don't care,” said Central Mayor Junior Shelton.
During the Senate Committee of Natural Resources meeting Thursday, the Mayor made it clear how he feels about the bill.
“I care about those constituents and those homes that lost everything,” he said.
The Mayor says ever since the 2016 flood, water in his city has been backing up into area canals and bayous, making its way to people’s homes.
“Last year it's come close three times to my house,” said Bruce Prestridge, who lives in Central. “The anxiety just sitting to get that call, or seeing the water come up thinking, okay do I have to go through this again. It’s hard to explain.”
Senator Bodi White wrote the waterway bill, asking to suspend the Comite River from the Louisiana Rivers Act so it can be dredged.
“We have not been able to clean it. I do not want to destroy that river,” he said.
But the Executive Director for Louisiana Wildlife Federation says this bill could mess with the river's ecosystem.
“The act was put into place so you have the right amount of the food cycle and the food chain for fish and birds and other wildlife for the system."
She says the waters were staying organic for a reason.
“Citizens like living, tubing, boating on a natural system."
The senate bill was unanimously passed despite the Wildlife Federation's concerns. It will now go to the Senate floor, and then the House.